Book: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Series or Stand-Alone: Series, The Last Survivors #1
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 1st, 2006
Description (From Goodreads): It's almost the end of Miranda's sophomore year in high school, and her journal reflects the busy life of a typical teenager: conversations with friends, fights with mom, and fervent hopes for a driver's license. When Miranda first begins hearing the reports of a meteor on a collision course with the moon, it hardly seems worth a mention in her diary. But after the meteor hits, pushing the moon off its axis and causing worldwide earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, all the things Miranda used to take for granted begin to disappear. Food and gas shortages, along with extreme weather changes, come to her small Pennsylvania town; and Miranda's voice is by turns petulant, angry, and finally resigned, as her family is forced to make tough choices while they consider their increasingly limited options. Yet even as suspicious neighbors stockpile food in anticipation of a looming winter without heat or electricity, Miranda knows that that her future is still hers to decide even if life as she knew it is over.
Life As We Knew It was a highly imaginative and intriguing read. From the start, I was fully invested in the story and it's characters. A few chapters into the book, the action really begins - when a huge meteor crashes into our moon. This causes massive changes in the world as we know it, and no one is prepared for the damage it causes. Scientists in the book claim that the meteor was more massive than they anticipated and therefore, no one had the slightest inkling of the problems this would bring. The crash bumped the moon closer to the earth, which in turn altered the gravitational pull of the moon. In short, it causes chaos. The tides alter, the weather changes - entire cities, entire states and entire countries are simply wiped out. Those that survive are forced to deal with life threatening conditions - there is a shortage of food, fuel, heat and electricity.
This book attacks the "end of the world" plotline with a refreshing, brutal honesty. Reading this book reminded me of watching a car crash - you know it is going to make you feel terrible, but you watch it just the same. As the book progresses, conditions continue to get worse and worse. However, Miranda's family is strong and they handle the challenges with as much grace as they can muster. This book is certainly not sugarcoated - the characters are perfectly aware that they may not survive; it is really a chilling account of survival.
One of the things that really drew me into the book was that it seemed somewhat plausible. Often with these types of books, I find lots of holes within the plotlines. While Life As We Knew It was certainly far fetched, I found myself believing that it could actually happen. In fact, it could happen to us.
I also found the characters and their actions extremely reasonable and believable considering their conditions. Every single one of the characters had a breakdown moment - I imagine I would have several. You have to understand, this family is living in extremely harsh conditions and for the majority of the book, they are confined to extremely close quarters. They are terrified for their lives and that, understandably, puts them under a great deal of stress.They often butt heads and argue - but they learn to rely on one another and really appreciate one another.
Not only is the plot fabulous, but there is also a great deal of character growth. This is especially evident with Miranda and her little brother, Jon. Both children are forced to grow up rather quickly and they handle things to the best of their ability.
Honestly, I found this novel completely captivating. It is certainly a book that stays with you and makes you contemplate your life. You can't help but identify with the characters - you want them all to survive. I got teary eyed a few different times; it certainly tugs on your heartstrings. Life As We Knew It is a beautifully written book that pulls you in and never really lets you go. It was easily one of the best books I have read this year!