Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors #1) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Released: October 2006
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age Group: Young Adult
“Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy dystopian novels, whether they involve zombies or not. Another blogger, Brittany, read this book before me and said, “It was dystopian without having to go far into the future and very realistic. It really made me think that things like this could really happen and how scary that would be!” After reading it, I totally agree. While the story didn’t have super fantastical elements, such as virus’, walking dead, survival camps, mass evacuations or martial law, the very fact that it is realistic is the scary part!
A large meteor hits the moon, and shifts it’s orbit. As the moon gets closer to earth, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes and erupting volcanoes decimate thousands of acres, cities and even entire states, hundreds of thousands of people are dead, and the government systems are defunct. Miranda’s mother immediately tasks the family with filling multiple shopping carts with non-perishable food, hygiene products and first aid supplies. When Miranda’s oldest brother, Matt, returns from college they begin chopping and stockpiling wood, months prior to winter.
As the season’s progress and food sources run low, the electricity is out, natural gas is gone, the well runs dry and schools close down. The family’s world gets smaller and smaller as communication ceases, gasoline supply is exhausted, the volcanic ash turns the sky gray and the air polluted, the family is confined to their home. Diseases spread, the volcanic ash has killed their garden and there is no more food to be had, their strength wanes and lack of privacy wears on their disposition.
Miranda’s father and his new wife, Lisa, are expecting a baby, but are unable to reach the kids since the phone system has been down. As the rare radio station program reads lists of the dead, the future seems very uncertain, and in fact, improbable. Miranda doesn’t know if her father is dead or alive, if Lisa has had her baby, or if they are even still alive. As asthma, infections and the flu spread in Miranda’s hometown, the remaining citizens begin leaving for other places in hopes of finding a utopia in the midst of despair.
The scary part of this book is the fact that it is so realistic. While a zombie apocalypse probably won’t happen, a major depression, or some natural or nuclear disaster is possible, and the results would probably be much the same as a large meteor displacing the moon. Lack of electricity, sporadic news or lack of wide spread communication, rations on gas – all of these things have already happened with lesser cause. (Consider Hurricane Katrina for example.) While this novel is a work of fiction, it deals with a future that could be very realistic.
Now, excuse me while I empty my truck, and head to Sam’s Club to buy in bulk….
I rated this book a 3.5 out of 5. I enjoyed it.
Other reviews on this book can be found here:
And the book trailer:
The second book in the Last Survivor series, The Dead and the Gone, also has a book trailer: