Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last Survivor Series

by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Read these May 2010
Life As We Knew It
The Dead & the Gone
This World We Live In
One evening in May everyone in the neighborhood went outside to sit in lawn chairs and have cookouts. They were having asteroid parties. Everyone wanted to see the big asteroid hit the moon. Soon enough the party atmosphere turned to panic. The asteroid knocked the moon out of its normal orbit and closer to the earth.
Life As We Knew It begins this trilogy of life after disaster. It's format is a teenager girl's diary. Miranda, her brother Jon and mother Laura live in the country just outside of a small town in Pennsylvania (I think). This is the story of their survival. At first, only electricity is effected and only intermittently. But Miranda's mother wisely prepares for the worst and stocks up on canned goods and winter clothes. Her instinct turns out to be correct as life gets more and more difficult. Because the gravitational pull of the moon has been altered, earthquakes and tsunamis happen all over the world. For a while, the family survives on food grown in the garden. As the skies fill with ash from volcanoes that have erupted throughout the world, food becomes more and more scarce.
This is an interesting story. How would one survive if life as we knew it changed completely?
I enjoyed the second book more. It takes place in New York City and tells the story of Alex, Julie and Brianna Morales. Surviving in the city is sometimes easier and sometimes much more horrible. I think I liked this book because of the religious theme running throughout.
Miranda, in the first book, has really no ties to religion at all. One of her friends has become a fundamentalist holy roller and sees the disaster as God's way of punishing mankind.
In The Dead and the Gone, however, religion is portrayed in a much better light. Alex and his sisters are Catholic. It's the anchor that gets them through the disaster.
Finally, the book This World We Live In is disappointing. It's Miranda's diary again and it's simply more of the same survival story in a way. But the appearance of Alex and Julie change things. I liked Alex's story so much that I resented it becoming a part of whiny Miranda's diary.
The story is bleak and not filled with much hope at all. I don't know if Susan Beth Pfeffer plans to write any more. I hope she does, because the reader has to know that life will go on.
These books have been criticized for bad science. I'll agree. And I'll add that the world would not be caught off guard by an asteroid of that size. Even if nothing could have been done about it, the news media would be all over the story. The earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis would have been predicted.
I'll also add that I don't think the United States would become such a desolate place. I just heard someone say on a news show about Haiti that Americans are "fix it" people. We want to fix things rather than letting them just lay there broken. I think Pfeffer's view of the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it is overly pessimistic.
Still, I enjoyed this series.

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