Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Dead and the Gone

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 2008
Hardcover, 321 pages
ISBN-13: 9780152063115
Young Adult, science fiction
very highly recommended

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 novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.
My thoughts:

In The Dead and the Gone Pfeffer returns to the disaster that happened in Life As We Knew It. In fact, this is a strong companion novel to the story set in a different location so I'd suggest reading Life As We Knew It before The Dead and the Gone. In The Dead and the Gone we follow Alex Morales's struggles through his eyes by dated prose rather than the journal entries found in Life As We Knew It. I do appreciate the fact that the Morales' family are strong Catholics so we get to see how they rely on their faith in God as they struggle in NYC to simply live from day to day. Although I felt this was just as strong as her first novel, some of the suspense is lessened because you know it's going to get bad. Also, even though Pfeffer made sure Alex said the doors to apartments in NYC were steel, etc. to explain why they didn't break into other apartments looking for food, I kept thinking that a sledge hammer can do wonders and could they have gone through some walls if necessary. As in the first book, some details require you to suspend reality, which is acceptable because it's a YA novel. very highly recommended


At the moment when life as he had known it changed forever, Alex Morales was behind the counter at Joey’s Pizza, slicing a spinach pesto pie into eight roughly equal pieces. opening

But as Alex raced across Broadway, fire engines and ambulances screamed down the avenue with no concern for traffic lights, and he began to wonder what was going on. Turning onto Eighty-eighth Street, he saw clusters of people standing in front of their apartment buildings. There was no laughter, though, no fighting. Some of the people pointed to the sky, but when Alex looked upward, all he saw was cloud cover. One well-dressed woman stood by herself weeping. Then, as Alex walked down the short flight of outdoor steps to his family’s basement apartment, the electricity went out. pg. 3-4

"Not moonspots," Briana said. "But the moon was supposed to get hit tonight by an asteroid or something. One of my teachers mentioned it. She was going to a meteor party in Central Park to watch."
"Yeah, I heard about that at school, too," Alex said. "But I still don’t see why an asteroid would knock out the electricity. Or why Mami would be called to the hospital." pg. 5

"Some big thing hit the moon last night, a planet or a comet or something. And it knocked the moon out of whack. It's closer to Earth now. Tidal waves. Flooding, blackouts, panic." pg. 9

"Things'll work out," Alex said. "Give the scientists some time and they'll figure out what to do."
"This is too big for the scientists," Lorraine said. "Only God can save us now."
"Then He will," Alex said. pg. 13

It took about fifteen minutes of terrible news around the country before the newscasters began focusing on New York. Alex sat there, absolutely still, the sound so low he could barely hear. The words and pictures assaulted him anyway. Horrific loss of life. Lower Manhattan decimated. Staten Island, Long Island devastated. Blackouts, looting, riots. Curfew between 8 PM and 6 AM. Tides twenty feet tall, sweeping away people, trees, even buildings. Mandatory evacuations. Plane crashes. Countless numbers of people dead in subways and in cars from tunnel flooding. pg. 21

And he reminded himself, New York always survived. It had to. The United States, the whole world, couldn't manage without it. It might take a while, and there might be a lot of politicking involved, but eventually New York bounced back from any misfortune. He lived in the greatest city in the world, and what made it great was it's people. He was a Puerto Rican New Yorker, strong by birth and by upbringing." pg. 23-24

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