Monday, June 8, 2009

Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt edition, May 2008
(originally published in 2006)
paperback, 349 pages
Young Adult novel
ISBN-13: 9780152061548
very highly recommended

Synopsis from back cover:
When a meteor hits the moon and knocks it closer in orbit to the earth, nothing will ever be the same. Worldwide tidal waves. Earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions. And that's just the beginning.
My thoughts:

This end of the world story is told through journal entries written by sixteen year old Miranda. As it begins, life is normal for Miranda, who is finishing up her sophomore year of high school, but then an asteroid hits the moon and her life dramatically changes. The true scope of the world wide apocalypse that a disaster like this would cause is dramatically modulated because we are viewing the horror through Miranda's journal entries. This is a very compelling, well written YA novel.

I have a few minor quibbles with the book. Some details require you to suspend reality, which is acceptable because it's a YA novel. The ending, while it works for the novel, would never happen in reality if a world wide catastrophe like this occurred. I must say I also didn't much appreciate Pfeffer inserting what I must imagine are her feelings toward Christianity and Republicans. While these digs are easy to overlook in the context of the novel, the book would have been fine without them. Alternately, if you want to dis Christianity by having someone become fanatical, perhaps balance that with someone whose faith sustains them through the unthinkable and does no harm.

All in all, though, Life As We Knew It is very highly recommended. (However, it might appeal more to women than men. Perhaps the next book in the series with a young man as the main character, The Dead and the Gone, will appeal more to men.)


Lisa is pregnant.
Dad called around 11 o’clock to let us know. Only Mom had already taken Jonny to his baseball practice and of course Matt isn’t home from college yet, so I was alone to get the big news. opening

Megan is spending so much time at her church. She goes to services every Sunday and she never used to and she does stuff with the youth group at least twice a week and sometimes more and for all her talking about how she’s found God, I think all she’s found is Reverend Marshall. She talks about him like he’s a movie star. pg. 4

He asked if any of us had heard about the asteroid and the moon. Mom remembered something about it, because it was big news when astronomers first announced it was going to happen. Some asteroid is going to hit the moon, and Peter heard on the radio driving over that it's going to be visible in the night sky next week. pg. 9

I know I can't explain, because I don't really know what happened and I sure don't know why.
But the moon wasn't a half moon anymore. It was titled and wrong and a three-quarter moon and it got larger, way larger, large like a moon rising on the horizon, only it wasn't rising. It was smack in the middle of the sky, way too big, way too visible." pg. 19

The newsman cleared his throat, like taking an extra few seconds was going to change what he had to say. "We are receiving reports of widespread tsunamis," he said. "The tides. As most of you know, the moon controls the tides..." pg. 22

"New York City has suffered massive damage," the anchor said. "Staten Island and the eastern section of Long Island are completely submerged. Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard are no longer visible. Providence, Rhode Island - in fact most of Rhode Island - can no longer be seen. The islands off the coast of the Carolinas are gone." pg. 25

"I went to the bank this morning," Mom said. "And I filled the gas tank and gas was already at five dollars a gallon. I went to the supermarket and the electricity went out and there was chaos there, so they just said a hundred dollars for each wagon [cart] no matter what was in it. I had a lot of cash on me, so I filled a wagon and went back and got Mrs. Nesbitt and then Jonny and you so we could each get wagons to fill." pg. 33

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