April 23, 2013

The end of the world as we know it

Life As We Knew It
by Susan Beth Pfeffer

A meteor is going to hit the moon, and 16-year-old Miranda, like the rest of her family and neighbors in rural Pennsylvania, intends to watch it from the comfort of a lawn chair on the front yard. But the event is not the benign impact scientists had predicted. The moon is knocked closer to Earth, setting off a chain of horrific events: violent earthquakes, massive tsunamis, and millions of deaths. Thanks to frantic preparations by her quick-thinking mother, Miranda's family is in better shape than many as the electricity goes out, gas supplies dwindle, and public services break down. If that's not bad enough, a flu epidemic kills off thousands. Then the volcanic eruptions start. With clouds of ash blocking the sun, the temperatures plunge and crops wither.  As Miranda's family begins to starve, her diary entries become more and more desperate.

Terrifying in its realism, this is a book so anxiety-filled that you will not be able to stop reading.

The Dead and The Gone
by Susan Beth Pfeffer

A companion to Life as We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone focuses on how the meteor strike affects the residents of New York City. Seventeen-year-old Alex Morales doesn't even give the moon much thought, as he's more interested in school and his part-time job. But with news of subway floodings and worldwide tsunamis, Alex quickly realizes that with his father in Puerto Rico and his mother unreachable at her job in Queens, he is in charge of the care and safety of his two younger sisters (Briana, 14 and Julie, 12). 

Not knowing if their parents are dead or alive, Alex tends to make questionable decisions, making this book not quite as good as Pfeffer's first. Nonetheless, the scenes of danger and horror can be overwhelming, especially in a harrowing description of Yankee Stadium, where women's bodies are lined up for identification. 

Not to be read late at night.

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