Monday, June 21, 2010

Life as we Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Published: 2006
Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 337
Miranda is an ordinary teen living in an ordinary world - that is, until a meteor crashes into the moon and drastically alters the world's climate. At the beginning, no one takes this event seriously, including Miranda. But after a few days the grocery stores run out of food, gas prices go up, and the weather gets worse. Soon Miranda finds her family struggling to stay alive and see the world get back to normal.
There's no questioning whether this is an interesting idea for a book. I mean, dystopian fiction seems to be all the rage these days, but for some reason I really wanted to read Life as we Knew It. As you can see, I did. In fact, I finished it just moments ago. And now I can say it didn't have the shocking effect on me that I was expecting.

So, there was this huge lunar impact that totally threw the earth's climate off kilter. Eventually, Miranda and her family were struggling to stay alive and were even skipping meals in order to conserve food. Big tragedy, big problem. But, oddly enough, it didn't seem like such a big deal to me! Yes, I know what you're thinking - if I went through that in real life I would be the last one to complain about the seriousness of the situation. When I read a book like this, though, I'm wanting to be amazed, I'm wanting to be disgusted, I'm wanting to read something that seems so impossible it's almost scary. Life as we Knew It just didn't do that for me. There were obviously some emotional moments, and there were moments when Miranda re-evaluated her priorities and her desires. Yes, there was all that good stuff. At times I was touched, and I even felt for her. But in the grand scheme of things I wasn't overly impressed.

The diary entry type of narration was a cute idea, but it honestly didn't come across as such. The only indication of this was the date written as each day went by. Other than that, the book felt pretty average in terms of writing. Now, don't think that I'm judging the book based solely on the narration style - I'm not! It actually served a purpose, which was to remind us that the days, months and seasons were passing by.

(Potential spoilers ahead - beware!)

There was something else that really bothered me, and that was the fact that near the end of the book Miranda just stopped caring. She didn't seem to value her life and ignored the fact that she and her family came so far. She even walked into town with the intention of not making it back home, so that there would be enough food for her stronger, more important brother to make it. That struck me as a bit odd, and I was concerned as to why Miranda valued her life less than her brother's, and why she felt that he was the only one who deserved to live. This event lead up to the grand finale ending, which was on the verge of being a happy one. But I must admit, it felt a bit rushed. Throughout the whole book there's all this build up and then - wham! It's all over.

(Spoilers done!)

Now that I'm re-reading my review of Life as we Knew it, it sounds like I'm making this book out to be terrible. Actually, there were many instances where I enjoyed it, and I'm definitely not sorry I read it. All in all, it was a solid and quick dystopian read that had its ups and downs. The characters were believable and had their distinct personalities, but there were minor flaws in the plot which seem to have stuck with me.

Recommendation: Fans of YA dystopian novels would like this one, of course! But if you don't normally read those books, give this a try if you're on the lookout for something different.


Faye said...

i don't usually read dystopian novels but i LOVE the hunger games so i'm looking 4 some good ones!Great review!

Sara said...

Thanks for honest review Emidy! Aww I was hoping that you were going to like this one. Dystopia isn't my usual genre either, but lately I've been loving it. I think I might give it a try :)

Lisa R said...

I read all three(back to back) of the books in this series and the only fault I had with the whole series is that I felt like there needed to be at least one more book for closure to the series.

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Alison said...

It sounds like a really interesting concept. I really don't like dystopia (too depressing) so I don't know if I'd go for it. But the plot does seem very interesting.

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

I love dystopian novels, and I've heard great things about Susan Beth Pfeffer! I was all excited that you were going to say it was great... then - WHAM! - disappointment, lol. But thanks for your honesty. I couldn't resist not reading the spoiler section and that does seem quite silly. In fact, it sounds like something that would make me hate the entire ending, after which no one wants to see my endless ranting. Truthfully, I don't know if I'll be reading it, but thanks for the great review! :)

Darlyn said...

Never thought this is a dystopian novel.i have not read any but this book really sounds very intriguing!

Jan von Harz said...

I have read this entire series and really loved all three books. The concept along had me. My favorite though is the second The Dead and The Gone. It happens in New York at the same time Miranda's story takes place. If you get a chance I would encouarage to red all three

Bobbie said...

Hi Emidy! Just coming by to say Hi! This sounds like a great book! My poor TBR list:)

GMR said...

Interesting review! It sounds like this book was struggling to leave an impression on you but in the end accomplished that goal with flying colors. I'm heard very little about this particular one, but I must say that the idea is a tinge scary in a way...I mean it's not SO far out there that it couldn't happen, ya know? Thanks for sharing....and happy reading!

Juju at Tales of said...

I love your points. Great review. I'm on the fence about this one.

Emidy said...

Faye - You should give this one a try, then. I still have to read THG!

Sara - If you're into dystopian novels lately, you should read this one! It's pretty decent.

Lisa - Interesting. I'm going to continue with the series and see how I feel!

Alison - I agree with you, dystopian books can get depressing at times.

Jenn - I don't want to discourage you from reading this, though! It wasn't a terrible book at all.

Darlyn - It is, for sure!

Jan - Great, glad to hear you liked the whole series. I want to continue with it, actually.

Bobbie - Hey, thanks for dropping by!

GMR - That's true! It is a scary concept.

Juju - Thanks! I suggest you give it a try.

Aths said...

I love dystopian lit, so I *may* give this one a try. I'll however remember your review and not put too much expectations on it.