Monday, December 17, 2007

Life As We Knew It: A Review

I love post-apocalyptic novels. They generally fall into two camps: the totally hopeless, like The Road or On the Beach, and the somewhat hopeful like Cell or the book I just finished, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. The general idea of these books is that some catastrophic thing happens - either a natural or human-sourced disaster - and those people who survive try to keep themselves alive and perhaps begin to rebuild society.

The narrator of Life As We Knew It is a teenage girl who lives with her mother and two brothers, one older and one younger than her. An asteroid is headed for the moon, and collides with such force the moon is knocked from its orbit and a ends up closer to Earth. The immediate result is a rash of severe tidal waves destroying and submerging coastal cities and islands around the world. This is followed by continuing weather disasters including volcanic eruptions (resulting from the stronger gravitational pull of the moon) which seriously affect air quality. When the asteroid first hit and it became obvious that something was really wrong, the mother had the foresight to immediately drive the kids to the supermarket to stock up on as much food and other supplies as possible. This, along with their woodstove, put the family at great advantage when food became scarce, electricity was lost, oil became unavailable, and the weather grew cold.

Many things went unexplained, such as what was actually going on around the world and if people would ultimately be able to survive. It did end on a message of hope which I like, but the bigger picture was still obscured. In a way it makes sense, as the family was so isolated they wouldn't necessarily know what was going on. Also, the story really was focused on the family and their survival and not the larger issues. Though I am tempted to think of this as a cop-out, I am reminded of the The Road, in which we have even less information about what happened to put the characters in their predicament.

What I especially liked about this book was the focus on everyday life under dire circumstances, and the relationship between the family members. Although much had changed, Miranda was still a teenage girl and still daydreamed about the boy she liked and the famous figure-skater she admired. Many worries were added to her life, of course, but she ultimately remained the same person. The diary format of the book gave it a personal feel, and it was a gripping story. Perfect for a wintery afternoon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I loved On The Beach when I read it in high school. maybe I'll get Life As We Knew It from the library. :-)