Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review - Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (4/5 stars)

Life As We Knew ItReading level: Young Adult
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Science Fiction
Size: 360 pages
Publisher: Graphia
Release Date: May 1, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0152061548
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Last Survivors trilogy
Source: Audio Book from
Rating: 4/5 stars

I have been wanting to read this for a while.  All I really knew about it was that it was supposed to be about the end of the world kind of and supposed to be really good.  It was a very good book and really makes you think about how you would survive in a similar situation.  I listened to this on audio book and the audio book was well done.

Miranda and her family are excited to go out and watch an asteroid hit the moon; there is supposed to be a big flash you can see from earth.  Unfortunately it is then that disaster strikes.  The asteroid is denser than expected and the moon is thrown out of orbit.  The shift in the moon's gravitational pull is having catastrophic effects; there are tsunamis on the coasts, earthquakes everywhere, massive volcanic eruptions, and basically everything that could go wrong with the world is.  Miranda and her family aren't in the thick of things where they live in Pennsylvania but they are living with a gradual decline; power is scarce, food is almost non-existent, and they are isolated from the rest of the country.  Fears about food sources and heat as winter approaches make things more complicated.

This whole book is done as day by day journal entries by Miranda.  The author does an excellent job of showing Miranda's ups and downs as she struggles through the events her and her family are put through.  The author also does an excellent job of showing how Miranda's family's life declines in increments.  There are no huge disasters here, well there are some, but mainly this book shows how the world could go into a slow decline and how people would do their best to survive.  I found it to be a much more realistic take on "the end of the world" than many other books I have read.  There is also a lot of focus on how close Miranda and her family become as they struggle to survive.

This book will really suck you in; it will make you laugh at times and make you cry at others.  You really start to feel like you are part of Miranda's family and are holding your breath to see what they will have to fight through next.  It is definitely not the most uplifting of books and at times is downright depressing.  The author offsets this with occasional positive events and glimpses of hope.  This book will definitely get you thinking about all that you take for granted in day to day life and about how fragile the structure of our information based society is.

There were a couple things that I didn't like about this book.  Midway through it kind of drags.  There is only so much that a reader can read about rationing food and trying to find ways to pass the time before they start to get a bit bored.  So there were a couple parts where I impatiently wanted the story to get on with things.  Also when Miranda is dictating conversations she ends every sentence with "he said", "I said", "she said" and that gets a bit repetitive but is probably representative of how a teenager would write in a journal.

Overall this is a wonderful book that really makes you think about the fragility of human society.  A great take on the collapse of human society caused completely by natural disaster.  It is not a happy book and is pretty depressing, but there are some glimpses of laughter and hope throughout.  It will make you wonder how you would survive a similar situation.  I have not decided if I want to read the next two books in this series or not.  I would like to find out more about what happens to Miranda and her family, but it was a pretty depressing read and I am not sure I need that...especially in the winter.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

 Life As We Knew It


  1. I really liked this book. The 2nd book wasn't as good.

  2. Good to know. That's kind of what I heard. But I also heard the second one is set in New York City and it would be interesting to hear about those events first hand, so I am not sure...

    Thanks for the comment!

    - Karissa