Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: Life As We Knew It

Title: Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1)
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Pages: 337
Where I Got This Book: Library
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Goodreads Summary: Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

My Thoughts: When I first started this novel and realized it was written in diary entries, I was a little unsure how much I would actually enjoy it-I don't really like epistolary-type novels.  However, the writing didn't really come across as a teenage girl's diary.  It was very detailed and had full dialogue.  This certainly ruined the effect of reading a diary, but that proved to be a good thing for me.

It started out kind of slow, but once I got halfway through I zoomed through the rest.  The entire concept of the moon being knocked out of orbit and causing numerous natural disasters (tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions) was very realistic to me. However, it did surprise me that no one, according to Miranda, had thought of this possibility when they all first discovered that the meteor would hit.  No scientists/astronomers ever seemed to consider how it could affect the earth.  I think if I was ever told that a meteor would hit the moon, I would be a little more worried than any of the people in this book appeared to be.  Miranda actually thought the whole thing was rather boring--until the meteor actually hit and caused all the disasters of course.

This is a great apocalyptic novel. You can really feel the characters' hunger, how freezing they are in this new world with no sun, and how isolated they feel. They can't risk going out into the world, so the family sticks together and lives out the months of winter in their small house. The small setting actually seems to help bring the story to life more. It becomes very character-driven and each family member was very well-rounded.

I liked how well Miranda's relationship with her Mom was written--all of the tension, heated arguments, and bonding moments mixed in together. It all felt very true to how a teenage girl and her mother would act with one another.  And I disagree with Miranda's belief that her younger brother Jonny has the best chance of surviving.  Miranda seems like the real survivor in her family, and I'm really rooting for her (for all of them). The ending was quite a nail biter and I loved that.

The second book in the trilogy,The Dead and the Gone, sounds amazing.  I'm excited that it takes place in NYC because I've been curious about how things are in other places in the country/world.  I wish the last book went on to focus on a third person in another location so I could get an even bigger picture of what the world was like, but it will be nice to continue Miranda's story, so I won't complain that the author decided to finish out the series by going back to Miranda and her family.


  1. I don't tend to like reading books written in Diary entries either. But I'm not sure I'll like it if it comes across as inauthentic either with detailed entries not typical of journal/diary entries. I guess I'm impossible to please.

  2. I actually read This World We Live In (the third book) not knowing that it was part of a series. I enjoyed it but when I went back to read the first one the journal entry thing really started getting to me so I never finished.