Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Life As We Knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer (REVIEW)

Looking for an enthralling, engrossing post-apocalyptic drama with a great protagonist and an all-to-believable plot? Look no further than LIFE AS WE KNEW IT.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
337 Pages
Published October 1st, 2006 by Harcourt Children's Books

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.

I used to work in the field of disaster preparedness, helping to create plans for disasters in the New York City area (well, it was my internship, and my project was all theoretical, but I learned a lot). My goal in life other than writing is to work in international disaster preparedness. I am the person who tells you to prepare now before it’s too late. Of course I was going to love this book. LIFE AS WE KNEW IT tells the story of 16 year old Miranda, living in Pennsylvania living an ordinary life until an asteroid collides with the moon and knocks it closer to the Earth. Besides making every human have a great view of the moon day and night, it also leads to mayhem, madness, and chaos – both natural and manmade.

Told as Miranda’s diary entries, we are taken into a world where things go from normal to disastrous in a matter of days. From volcanoes blotting out the sun to diseases spreading like wildfire, Pfeffer transports us to a world that while being somewhat farfetched feels all too real and plausible. Miranda watches friends and family die, the world crumble down around her, and struggle to survive herself. Her story is almost heartbreaking, but at the same time enthralling and engrossing. We root for her to survive and keep living while things look bleaker and bleaker with each passing moment.

As I mentioned, a lot of the story is farfetched, but if you suspend your disbelief and look at the story for what it is, a drama about life in the face of disaster, it’s a great story with a believable narrator. The story is not the most vivid, leaving a lot to the reader, which was something I enjoyed. While some have described it as dystopian, it isn’t at all – completely post-apocalyptic, and this apocalypse is one of the best portrayed in my opinion in young adult fiction.

VERDICT: A great novel that, even with a farfetched plot, manages to become an all-too-real feeling portrayal of a young girl on the brink of death facing the destruction of the world. I definitely recommend this to everyone.


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