Monday, January 25, 2010

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer (review)

Title: This World We Live In
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Illustrator: N/A
PDF Pages: 257
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Pfe
ISBN: 978-0-547-24804-2
Kindle Cost: $1.65 (for conversion from NetGalley to Kindle)

The main character in this novel is a young woman named Miranda. She keeps a journal (or diary if you like) of the events of her life over the span of a few months. And it is quite a depressing life indeed.

But let's back up a little. The main setting is rural Pennsylvania, but it is not the world as we know it. Instead it is a post-apocalyptic world where an asteroid hits the moon causing it to orbit closer to the earth. Which in turn plays havoc on the weather. You can imagine what would happen from there, but Pfeffer puts most of this global catastrophe in the background. It plays a role in the setting and the hardship the characters live in, but the characters drive this story from start to finish.

From there, we have the genre to consider. While not exactly obvious from the blurbs seen around town, this is most certainly a young-adult novel. And while Miranda is legally an adult, she comes across as a very young teenager instead. As a middle-aged guy, it was hard to identify with her without going back to a middle school mindset and thinking about the girls I knew back then.

Despite the genre not being my primary choice, it did work for me in the post-apocalyptic genre. It did a great job conveying the emotional toll that I'd expect to see after a disaster. And it was this emotion that is rarely seen in other post-apocalyptic stories.

And all that emotion gets depressing. As the reader follows Miranda through her life in a wet and cold hell, we learn that she lives with her controlling mother and two brothers. The family grows through marriage and reunions with lost family members but it also shrinks through death and other natural disasters. What Miranda is looking for in life is not clear, but she and the rest of the people certainly do their best to survive.

All in all, this was a good read for the post-apocalyptic genre as it added the proverbial "woman's touch" as well as emotional depth. How it measures up to other young adult books, I do not know. But I would assume it could hold its own.

One side note. I discovered after reading this book that it was actually the third book in a series. While it is unclear what the name of the trilogy is here in the States, it looks like our UK readers call it The Last Survivors trilogy. Book one is Life as we Knew It and book two is The Dead and the Gone.


Ms. Yingling said...

So how many jars of peanut butter did you feel compelled to buy after reading this one? I learned to can tomatoes because of these books! (Of course, I will have to do it over an open fire, if I can even get the tomatoes to grow...)

TK42ONE said...

Ms. Yingling - There's only one jar of peanut butter in my house and that's likely the limit. Seeing as three of the four of my family are allergic (and severely) we are VERY careful about nuts.

But, I do have a very large bucket of freeze-dried food in the shed (peanut and dairy free of course) and a small stockpile of bottled water. Nothing major, but enough to get us through a disaster for a few days if we needed to.

PS - Thanks for stopping by!