2014 Book Review #6 – Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Obviously I’m an avid reader. As a teacher, it’s always great when you have students who are also passionate about reading and will even suggest a book to you. Last week, I had a student suggest “Life As We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer. The novel is the first in The Last Survivors series.
The novel tells the story of sixteen-year-old Miranda who finds her world completely changed when an asteroid hits the moon and shifts it out of orbit, bringing it closer to Earth. Due to the increase in its gravitational pull, the shift of the moon causes many dramatic weather changes on Earth. It begins with massive tsunamis that wipe out many of the coastal cities worldwide. Then weather patterns change, earthquakes break out and volcanic activity increases. Power and communication are disrupted and supply lines are all but completely cut off.
Miranda’s mother quickly goes into survival mode, realizing that the family must stockpile food and basic needs in case the situation gets worse. Miranda, her younger brother Johnny, her mother and their neighbor Mrs. Nesbitt travel around town gathering as many supplies as possible.
As the situation continues to worsen, disease begins to spread and families leave town searching for a better chance of survival in towns south of their home in Pennsylvania. Miranda and her family (including her older brother Matt who has returned from college) decide to stay and take their chances with their supplies and their home with the wood-burning stove.
The novel, told in journal entries written by Miranda, is one that is geared (in readability) towards middle school students, although the content is something that even I found a little disconcerting.
It really made me take a look at what all I take for granted. The premise of this novel is one that really makes you consider how you might handle this situation if it truly happened. More than once in the time since I began reading this book, I have found myself thinking about how I would handle a situation like this if it happened. It was also one that I got completely absorbed in. I read the entire novel in an afternoon.
Overall, although I enjoyed the novel, there were parts that I found flawed. There didn’t seem to be enough panic for me when the first situation happened. Also, there wasn’t as much action as I anticipated and much of the novel found Miranda complaining of boredom. The novel is also VERY bleak. If you are looking for a story of hope and the power of the human spirit, look somewhere else. Maybe in one of the following books in the series, this will come, but for “Life As We Knew It,” the future seems pretty scary.
I’m sure that I will be reading the other books in the series – it’s not like the first one took me long to read, and I did, for the most part, enjoy the book. At least the story has stuck with me over the last few days since I’ve read it.
Life As We Knew It rating: 3/5 stars