Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: Life As We Knew It – Susan Beth Pfeffer


Life As We Knew It – Susan Beth Pfeffer


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.


Review: Scientists didn’t think the meteor heading for the moon was a big deal, but they turned out to be very wrong. The meteor knocks the moon closer to Earth, which triggers a string of huge natural disasters. As society collapses, seventeen-year-old Miranda and her family stockpile food and camp out near their wood-burning stove. They have no idea how long they’ll have to wait for rescue.

“Here's the funny thing about the world coming to an end. Once it gets going, it doesn't seem to stop.” – Life as We Knew It

I wanted to read this book because it was pretty popular with kids during the whole YA dystopia madness a few years ago. I finally got around to reading it, and . . . I have the dreaded mixed feelings. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it, either.

The story starts quickly. A meteor hits the moon, and Miranda’s mother goes nuts. She gets the kids from school, empties all the money from the family’s bank account, and buys everything she can. After this initial rush of stockpiling supplies, the story slows down. There are natural disasters, but they all happen far away from Miranda’s family. The family just hangs out at home and hopes they have enough food and water to get them through.

Part of me likes the slowness because it’s realistic. The town tries to keep the schools open and everything functioning normally, but soon they can’t. The apocalypse doesn’t happen all at once, and the reader doesn’t know how bad things will get. Another part of me doesn’t like the slowness. I kept waiting for something to happen. I got bored with watching the family chop wood. I wanted something huge to happen that would force them to make big decisions, but nothing did.

“I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald's would still be open.” – Life as We Knew It

This book is a bit unusual in the YA world because it features a strong, loving family. The parents do a (fairly) good job of behaving like responsible adults. But, all of the characters are flat. This might be because the story is told in diary entries, and Miranda mostly focuses on her own problems in the entries. All of the secondary characters are just names to me. They don’t have much personality. Even the major characters aren’t developed enough for me to care about them. Since none of the characters felt real to me, I had a hard time getting into the story.

There are some humorous moments. I actually laughed when the mother said she’s not desperate enough to watch Fox News, even though the world is ending.

I’m not a scientist, but I wondered about a lot of the science in this book.  Would scientists really not know the size of a meteor heading for the moon? And would the moon’s gravity really cause earthquakes and other giant natural disasters? I don’t know, but it’s terrifying if this stuff could actually happen.

I guess I feel pretty “Meh” about this book. It’s entertaining, but it didn’t give me much to think about, and it doesn’t do anything I haven’t seen in post-apocalyptic fiction before. Right now, I don’t plan on continuing with the series. 






9 comments:

  1. I remember reading this book and feeling pretty Meh about it too. If the moon were closer to Earth then the pull of gravity most certainly would affect the tides, cause earthquakes and activate volcanoes etc. The moon and it's gravitation pull is quite powerful and plays a big part in how the Earth works!

    It was an interesting take on the whole end of the world thing but you're right when you say the characters fell flat. And the whole time all I was doing was waiting around for something ELSE to happen. Things kept happening but they were too far away from the main character.

    I've never picked up the next book in the series and I have no interest in carrying on.

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

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    1. YES! I wish something would have happened closer to the characters. That would have made it more intense.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. I disliked this so much! I think my biggest problem was that none of the things happening in the story make sense scientifically. Also the writing. Totally get your meh feelings and I share them.

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    1. Yeah, I wondered about the science. I especially questioned why the scientists didn’t know the size/speed of the meteor.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. I agree with you about most of this. I think I maybe liked it a *little* bit more, but yeah, I don't know if I will continue the series either. I actually bought the second one, but then I heard not great things, so... I am not sure I'll ever actually read it. Great review, sorry this wasn't better for you!

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    1. Thanks! If you do read the second one, I’d love to see your review of it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. Man, this is so disappointing! I've been intrigued by this book for years but have just been waiting for no reason in particular. I was SO hoping that you'd loved it! I also have problems when books are slow and I really don't think I could deal with the flat characters. Oh well. :/ Great review though!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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  5. I enjoyed this book but didn't love it. I do remember having to pile blankets on while reading it, because I got sympathy-cold for them, and I kept fretting about not having enough emergency food in the pantry. I actually started the second book but only made it a few chapters. It's an entirely different set of characters facing the same situation, so...why do I care?

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