Tag Archives: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Review: This World We Live In

This World We Live In
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
April 2010

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.

The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.

The Short of It:

A solid follow-up to the first two books. Equally engaging but lacking that element of surprise.

The Rest of It:

This World We Live In is book three in the Life As We Knew It series and I must say, it has been a very enjoyable series for me. Not enjoyable in the traditional sense but there’s something to be said for a book that completely takes you away to another time and place. This place being a world, devastated by a catastrophic event where food and water are no longer a given. In this book, Alex and Julie from book two cross paths with Miranda and her family and they are all forced to live with one another while trying to figure out what do with the lives that they’ve been given. Do they stay? Do they leave? Is there a future for them somewhere else?

If I were in this situation, I’d be terrified of venturing out into the unknown. Especially if I had children that I was responsible for and this is the situation here. Laura, does not want to leave the house. She is comfortable at home with her four kids, Miranda, Jon, Matt and his new wife Syl,  but when Miranda’s dad shows up with his wife, a baby and three other strangers tension begins to rise. Some feel it would be better to move on, others feel it would be better to stay put and what about food? What little there was before now has to stretch to feed these additional people.

What I like about this series is that the characters are very resourceful and believable. There’s no getting comfortable when you have that many people trying to survive. They are constantly taking inventory and figuring out ways to get more of what they need.  I was also very glad that the story was told from Miranda’s point of view. Much of the story is shared through her journal entries which lend an authentic air to the story. What I didn’t care for, was how fast she and Alex fell in love. I know there’s the whole “end of the world” thing going on but it didn’t seem right. The two personalities didn’t mesh for me. That’s really a small quibble because even though I didn’t buy the relationship, it did symbolize hope and put a positive spin on an otherwise dire situation.

This book didn’t have the same feel as the first two books because we’ve already been introduced to what created this situation and we’ve already gotten a feel for what’s it’s like to be hungry (and cold) but I say… read it anyway. This is gripping stuff. Once you pick it up, you have to finish it. I know this is the end of the line as far as the series,  but it’s open-ended enough where there could be more books. Ms. Pfeffer? Are you listening?

Source: Jill was kind enough to send me her copy as I was like a puppy dog, pressing my nose up against the glass. Thanks Jill!

Review: The Dead and the Gone

The Dead and the Gone
By Susan Beth Pfeffer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
January 2010

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event—an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex’s parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.

With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.

The Short of It:

A harsh look at a family, struggling to survive in a city torn apart by disaster. Frightening, but not as compelling as the first book.

The Rest of It:

The main difference between the first book, Life as We Knew It, and this one, is that the first book dealt with rural, Pennsylvania whereas this one takes place in New York City. The other difference is that this family, headed up by 17-year-old Alex Morales, is much more religious.

What I love about this series is that once you start it, you really can’t put it down. The plot is simple. the situation is dire, and the characters are stretched beyond their comfort zone.  It’s good storytelling but it’s nerve-wracking! Food is a constant worry. Will there be enough? What will they do if they run out?

Since this story takes place in the city, there are additional concerns to consider. BUT, I don’t think that they were explored as much as they could have been. There wasn’t much in the way of looting or violence, which seemed sort of unrealistic to me. I realize that this is a young adult book but as a young kid, the potential for violence to occur,  would have consumed my thoughts. A bit of this did come across through Alex but his sisters did not seem to have any sense of danger and given their ages, early to mid-teens, and them being female, I would have expected them to be a bit more concerned about their safety.

One could get nit-picky with a book like this but I won’t do that. Even though parts of it were unrealistic it was still a fun read. As fun as reading about the end of the world can be! I read it in one sitting, all through the night with my little book light. If you want a book that’s just fun to read, then this would be a good one for you.

The new book in the series, The World We Live In, can be purchased online and I can’t wait to read it. Apparently the characters from book one and book two come together to form book three. I’ve already read a few reviews and so far and I’ve heard nothing but good things.

Source: Purchased.