This World We Live In, by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Oh, I wanted to love this book so much. I absolutely adored the other two books in this series, which were full of suspense and emotion and just win in general, and I was intrigued by the prospect of the two protagonists meeting each other. But.

Well, let’s just start with the obvious — this book is completely different from the other two. It takes place after the events of both, and the world is starting to look up. So right away the suspense of “what’s going to happen next oh no terrible things are going to happen I can’t look let me peek through my fingers” is dialed way down to something more like “what’s going to happen next it’s probably going to be okay there aren’t as many terrible things that could happen but I’ll keep reading in case one does.” Which, okay. It’s a different book. If I wanted more of the same I should just go re-read the others.

But I was hoping the book would at least speak to me in the same way. New book, new situations, but still a poignant outlook on a bleak life? Not really. The characters pretty much refuse to be developed, so even when terrible things did happen I was just like, “Oh, that happened,” unlike my barely-stifled sobs in reading the other books.

I will give Pfeffer credit for not just making the world all bright and shiny again, and for giving us a sense of what else is happening in the world outside of Miranda’s house. But now I’m going to pretend this never happened and go back to the ambiguous endings I liked so much from the previous books. And then I’ll see what other stories Pfeffer has to offer, because they’re probably pretty darn good.

Rating: 6/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2010, A to Z Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
My Friend Amy

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

The Dead and the Gone, by Susan Beth Pfeffer (24 October)

This is a companion to Life As We Knew It, a book I read a little while ago and absolutely loved. If you haven’t read that one, it’s okay, because this isn’t a sequel. If you haven’t read the first one, you won’t have the background on just exactly why the moon is closer to the earth, but as long as you know that it is (which, now you do!), you can follow along quite well.

The Dead and the Gone is the story of Alex Morales, a 17-year-old kid in New York City who, before the moon thing happens, is fighting his way to be number one in his class, though another student is staying annoyingly right ahead of him. However, after the moon thing happens, he is left with no idea what happened to his parents and two younger sisters to take care of. Things are a little easier for Alex than for Life‘s Miranda because he’s in New York City and the government’s not just going to ignore it, but he still has to worry about food and illness and keeping his faith alive in the face of tragedy. (Side note: those who were upset about the portrayal of Christians in Life will I think be much more pleased by the heavy Christian influence of the good kind in this novel.)

I thought that this book made a really interesting contrast to the first and also that it worked really well as a stand-alone novel, so I really recommend this to everyone. There’s a third one coming out in six months or so and I am really excited.

Rating: 10/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2008)

See also:
Just One More Page
Blogging for a Good Book

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer (1 September)

Wow. Just… wow. This book was excellent. Amazing. Wonderful, even. So good that when I described it to Scott, he told me to let him read it next, and this guy usually has to be begged and pleaded to read a book I like. So, yeah.

The novel is presented as a series of journal entries from our protagonist, Miranda, and starts off like the journal of a normal teenager — her dad is having a kid with his new young wife, there are tests that must be studied for, she’s growing apart from her friends, her teachers are giving all sorts of extra homework because of some asteroid that’s going to hit the moon. You know. The asteroid thing is supposed to be pretty cool to watch, so there are lots of block parties and things like that, but when the event actually happens, there is panic. See, those astronomer fellows who said that everything was going to be okay misjudged the mass of the asteroid and it ended up pushing the moon rather closer to the Earth. Uh-oh. (I don’t know if this could really happen, but that’s what speculative fiction is for, yes?)

At first, nothing seems much different except that the moon is huge in the sky. But soon reports are coming in about stronger tides taking out coastal areas everywhere, including some offshore oil rigs. Everyone panics and buys out the supermarkets; the cost of gas goes up right quick; the electricity starts to blink out. But still Miranda has to go to school… until the school, with no electricity and no food and a decreasing student population, closes early. And then things get worse.

I loved this book and devoured it in just a few hours. Pfeffer could have gone for the “people helping people” saccharine view, or the “people murdering people” depressing view, but instead she wrote this incredibly realistic account of what you and I would probably go through if suddenly something like this happened. I was sympathetic not just to Miranda but to her mother and brothers and her father’s new family and her friends who’ve gone weird but who are still her friends, and I cried a whole bunch when some bad things happened to these good people.

And apparently there’s a sequel! Oh, goody! I love it when excellent books turn into series. It’s like some excellent whipped cream on an excellent scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mmm, ice cream.

Rating: 10/10

See also:
Book Nut
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?
things mean a lot

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.