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Posts Tagged ‘Life As We Knew It’

Life as We Knew It
By Susan Beth Pfeffer
ISBN: 9781595141712
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date of Publication: 2006

Reader’s Annotation:
After an asteroid destroys a portion of the moon, humanity must struggle to survive against the Earth’s changing catastrophic conditions.

Plot Summary:
Miranda Evans has a simple, normal life. She still has the complexities of having divorced parents, a new sibling on the way, and regularly scheduled homework. But maybe compared to some kids, Miranda’s life is a happy one.

One night an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it out of its orbit, leaving the moon only two-thirds whole. In that moment, the Eastern Seaboard has been flooded and there are worldwide reports of massive tsunamis destroying ocean communities, even countries. Slowly, Miranda’s life begins to change for the worse. There’s gas rationing, electricity is scarce, and food has become the most valuable commodity in the world.

As the days go by, the situation doesn’t seem to be getting better. Friends leave or die and family members are lost or missing. It’s now every man for themselves. For Miranda and her family, it’s a fight to survive another day.

Critical Evaluation:
Susan Beth Pfeffer  initially drew inspiration for the story from a B-movie called Meteor, which starred Sean Connery and Natalie Wood. After watching the film, and dismissing it’s horrible premise, Pfeffer began to question what would happen if a teen was faced with an apocalyptic scenario. The resulting answer was Life as We Know It.

The book is a dark piece of fiction as with each day that is presented in Miranda’s diary any lingering hope of survival continues to diminish. Pfeffer is honest in the grim portrayal and presents a realistic idea of what the damage to the moon could cost the inhabitants of the Earth.

The characters of the story are portrayed as realistic in that there is a desire for the past to return as life would be easier. But handling a catastrophic transition isn’t easy for anyone and such changes don’t happen over night. Miranda’s mother is portrayed as practical, looking at the means of helping her children survive instead of just her own well-being. The young adult reactions are a mixture of selfish desire and with scared realization. Again, there is honesty in the characterizations which makes the novel hard to read at times since you know everything will not be rosy.

It is not a happy tale and those looking for a joyful ending would be better served looking else where for their entertainment. Pfeffer succeeds in this endeavor in that she writes well, which is reflected in Miranda’s observations.

Information about the author:
From Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Blog, Pfeffer is the writer of over 70 books. Her focus has been towards Young Adult and Children’s fiction starting with the publication of her book Rainbows and Fireworks in 1973. Pfeffer lives in New York with her cat and continues to write fiction, with titles outside of The Last Survivors series.

Susan Beth Pfeffer on Twitter

Genre:
Fantasy/Science Fiction, Horror/Thriller

Curriculum Ties:
Astronomy, Survival Skills

Booktalking Ideas:
What would you first do if the world was about to end?
What supplies would you need if you hope to survive a catastrophe?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests an age range of 19-20. The book features a sixteen protagonist was written for a young adult audience. I would suggest an age range of 16 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would be nightmares caused by anxiety of the characters’ conditions.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
When I first picked up this book, I couldn’t finish it. The story became too depressing and it felt too tangible. When I picked up the book a few months later, I found that the story was still engaging but I could handle the apocalyptic storyline better. There are a great number of dystopian books for Young Adults on the market today. Susan Beth Pfeffer’s tale of Earthly doom gives a realistic perspective of what would happen in this type of disaster. And for that reason alone, I think it’s a great book to give to teens. It’s a great alternative to mainstream dystopia.

Reference:
Amazon. (n.d.). Books by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Beth-Pfeffer/e/B001H6QEWY/ref=la_B001H6QEWY_pg_6?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_82%3AB001H6QEWY&page=6&ie=UTF8&qid=1354854426
Kirkus Reviews. (2010). Life as we knew it. Retrieved from Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/susan-beth-pfeffer/life-as-we-knew-it/

Pfeffer, S.B. (2010). The big idea: Susan Beth Pfeffer. Whatever.Scalzi.Com. Retrieved from http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/04/06/the-big-idea-susan-beth-pfeffer/

Bonus Features!

Mini Review!

The Last Survivors Series

(more…)

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