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Last Survivors #1

Life As We Knew It

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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.

337 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2006

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About the author

Susan Beth Pfeffer

102 books1,858 followers
Susan Beth Pfeffer was born in New York City in 1948. She grew up in the city and its nearby suburbs and spent summers in the Catskill Mountains. When she was six her father wrote and published a book on constitutional law, and Pfeffer decided that she, too, wanted to be a writer. That year she wrote her first story, about the love between an Oreo cookie and a pair of scissors. However, it wasn't until 1970 that her first book, Just Morgan, was published. She wrote it during her last semester at New York University; since then, she has been a full-time writer for young people.

She has won numerous awards and citations for her work, which range from picture books to middle-grade and young-adult novels, and include both contemporary and historical fiction. She is also the author of the popular Portraits of Little Women series for grades 3-6, and has written a book for adults on writing for children.

To date, she has written more than 60 books. About David was awarded the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award. The Year Without Michael is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and winner of the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award; it was also named by the American Library Association as one of the hundred best books for teenagers written between 1968-1993.

When she is not working, she enjoys watching movies, both new and old, and collecting movie memorabilia, reading biographies and histories, and eating foods that are bad for her. She lives in Middletown, New York, with her two cats, Alexander and Emily.

Named the American Library Associations Young Adult Library Services Association Best Book for Young Adults 2007 and Teens’ Top Ten Booklist in 2007. Finalist for the Andre Norton Award, Quill Awards, Hal Clement Awards

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 10,477 reviews
Profile Image for Isa Lavinia.
600 reviews300 followers
August 7, 2013

Okay, I was really looking forward to this book - I've been reading a lot of dystopias lately and they've surprised me in a positive way. Not this one.
Listen, if you're writing fantasy or sci-fi that's not based on Earth you can go all out, like, "That asteroid knocked Zhogenaqn, our moon, out of orbit, which caused all the feueldndao plants to release zignhnwp, a deadly virus." It's cool. You can do that, and I won't even bat an eyelash at it.
BUT when you say "oh all the astronomers were really psyched about that asteroid that would hit the moon, but it ended up knocking the moon out of orbit like a goddamn marble and make its way towards Earth", then we have a problem.
First of all, it would take an object equal to the moon in density and size, hitting it at the same velocity as its trajectory, but on an opposite direction to knock it out of said orbit. ARE YOU TELLING ME ALL THE WORLD'S ASTRONOMERS COULD NOT CALCULATE THAT SHIT?! Not that there would be anything to calculate since the book tells us the asteroid was "a lot smaller than the moon"!
Then a bunch of unrealistic, unscientific stuff happens, which is just basically a whole case of: author did not do the research - even if I were able to ignore that moon stuff , (WHICH, AS A SCIENTIST, I CAN'T) I wouldn't be able to ignore this! How the fuck do tides cause tsunamis?! Are tides somehow causing submarine earthquakes?! And the Yellowstone volcano erupted because of the moon (WTF?!?!?!) and all it did was send out a little ash?! And suddenly malaria?! I JUST CAN'T WITH THIS SHIT.
I'm not religious, my family isn't religious. I don't care about religion. That being said, the author's attack on religious characters is absurd. Why are they being portrayed as whack jobs who incite children to starve because God will provide for them while churches are keeping all the food for themselves? Give me a break, the great majority of the world's population is religious, they're not all crazy people! And churches (or the equivalent depending on denomination) have a history of helping people when disaster strikes. Bitch all you want, but even now with this fucking crisis, there are a lot of people who would be starving if it weren't for food provided by organizations connected to religious movements.
Don't use YA books as your platform to spout this kind of shit. It makes you look like an asshole. Especially if you already proved to the world you are unable to grasp the basics of science.
And the story? If you advertise your book as a dystopia, don't make us read a teenage girl's diary unless shit actually happens in it! I know I sound mad, and I am mad because there is so much awesome stuff you could do with science on your side!! The author even quoted Star Trek TOS, which was pretty okay on the science bits (even though it had a lot of leeway what with it being in OUTER SPACE WITH ALIENS).
But this book?

Profile Image for Valerie.
249 reviews74 followers
September 30, 2014
This book is was very overwhelming for me. I felt like it could really happen. After I read half the book I honestly wanted to go to the grocery store and get as much food as I possibly could. It showed me how fragile our lives really are, and I was reminded again what really is important in life. Miranda grows so much, at first I think she sounds a bit spoiled but she grows out of it. And you see what people are truly capable of. As the story progresses things get worse and worse. That is what made me want to put the book down but I really just had to know how it ended. And the end gave you something to hold on to.
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
June 27, 2018
i don't know who i am trying to kid. i keep reading these survival stories, thinking to myself, "i will know what to do if this happens - i will have tips and tricks and i will be the last one standing." that's pretty much bullshit. while its true i probably could survive, i wouldn't want to. i'm a fat lazy american - i don't want to have to scavenge. i don't want to have to hunt and skin deer or build a shelter or defend myself from others looking to eat my delicious arms. i don't want to have to dig for water or develop a complex food-storage system or eat dandelion greens. and the first warm day, that would be it for me. i cannot live without air conditioning. or showering. and i am a baby now when i have to deal with (shudder) menses. post-apocalyptic menses without a duane reade around? that would be the death of me. i am no survivor. but i like to read about other people surviving and telling myself it would be different if it were me. but i know that it's a lie. oh but the book... it's a fine teen novel of a family struggling to survive after an asteroid knocks the moon a little closer to the earth and the resulting tsunamis and volcanoes and weather malfunctions. but mostly the starving. dear god, the starving...

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Buggy.
489 reviews679 followers
December 2, 2012
Opening Line:“Lisa is pregnant. Dad called around 11 o’clock to let us know.”

I loved this, easily one of my top reads this year; although maybe love isn’t the right word because this book scared the crap out of me. It also depressed me, made me very cold and gave me OCD about stockpiling food. I mean just how long could I survive on what’s in my cupboards? Not very. Three boxes of Kraft Dinner and a jar of spaghetti sauce are hardly going to see me through a wintery apocalypse now are they? (Although that bottle of gin will come in handy)

As much as this book messed with my head, I also couldn’t stop reading it, fascinated in a morbid sort of way. I’ve heard it compared to a car accident and that’s true, once you start this you won’t be able to look away.

Life As We Knew It is written in diary form, from the POV of 16year old Miranda. The entries start just prior to a meteor hitting the moon and initially her accounts are self-absorbed, and annoying in fact she comes off kind of spoiled, which let’s face it, is realistic for a high school girl. I think the author probably did this on purpose to show us what her life and thoughts were like ‘before’ and how much she grows as a person by the end of this harrowing story.

Miranda lives with her mother and younger brother (with another brother away at college). Her father has remarried and is expecting a baby with his new wife. Nobody is paying much attention to the astronomers or the moon. I mean at 16 it’s all about you, everything else is just an annoyance. In May the meteor knocks the moon out of its orbit and everything changes.

Miranda’s mother is the real hero of this story, having the foresight to begin amassing food and winter clothes, (candles, batteries, water) while the rest of the world watches and waits. The power is the first to go, then Tsunamis take out anyone on the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents and volcanic ash quickly blocks out the sun. We the readers remain mostly naïve about world events because we only know what Miranda writes in her diary and she’s stopped listening to the news only occasionally giving us tidbit from rare radio broadcast that now mostly consist of death lists but soon even the radio stops.

As summer turns to arctic winter and disease threatens those left alive Miranda’s world grows smaller and smaller. School is cancelled, her friends have either moved or died and gathering firewood and water takes up most of her day. She has little strength left because she is starving and her family has moved into one room to conserve the small amount of heat the wood stove is putting out. It is cold, blinding snow storms and ash fill the sky, the food is almost gone, the food is almost gone! When she thinks about last week she wonders why she ever complained because she had it so much better, last week she was eating one meal a day, now she’s eating every second day and wondering just how much longer her family can survive. She hopes she goes first.

Profile Image for Harry.
2 reviews1 follower
April 9, 2008
Now I know a one star is pretty bad but when I put my cursor over the one star it says didn't like it and I did not like this book at all. I'm not going to go into full detail because it would torture me but heres the plot: You are reading about a family that lives in Pennsylvania and the character Miranda is a teenage girl living with her mom and brother. Scientists say that a meteor is going to hit the moon, and everyone doesn't really care about being a doomsday because the scientists say there wont be. Well the meteor did hit and cerated a Doomsday. In the first few days The family has to survive while the Moon got closer to the earth because of the impact. The Moon gets so close that the gravitational pull creates hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Somehow the author thought that a meteor could do that.
This book is a horrible end of the world book, it has at most 15 pages of excitement. Seriously other then that its like reading a dictionary, other then the 15 pages of robbing a supermarket, you have to read about people dieing of old age and reading about a teen that writes in her diary.
Now this character is the most boring character I have ever read about. In the Diary all you read about is how life sucks in a house. I'm being completely serious. The whole book is about a family surviving in a house and trying to get food and firewood. There is No suspense, No plot, No plot twists, No Excitement, No everything. This book remains the same, for 400 or so pages, it never changes, all you read about is surviving in a house and reading about the teen doing homework, and eating.
Overall I hated this book, I really did. I love exciting books and slow dramatic books but this one has nothing to it.
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,573 followers
October 7, 2017
I'm all for the "survival of the fittest when tragedy strikes" novels. I normally like the hardcore kind. Given this was a young adult novel, I didn't expect it to be graphic, violent or truly horrific which is why I went into it expecting more light-hearted fiction -- and that's what I got. Nothing too clever or deep, but it did make me sad a few times.

The characters are basic, the plot typical for this type of novel. The science of it all could be valid; I'm not exactly sure what I'd expect to happen if an asteroid hit the moon and caused it to completely change the climate of the earth. Good description of the new type of snow and lack of sunlight.

What I hoped we got more of was the impact on the rest of the country. I get that the point of the book is what specifically happens to this one family, but the author just throws out most of the eastern seaboard is washed away and hundreds of thousands of people died. I would have expected millions to die in NYC alone since the impact took all of 5 minutes -- no one had time to run for cover. I want to know what happens to the country as a whole... but maybe that's going beyond the border of the series.

In the end, I find myself wanting to see what happens to the family in the next book so the author has done well!
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,559 reviews2,312 followers
October 28, 2018
Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors #1) by Susan Beth Pfeffer is a book that sounded so intriguing and it certainly was! A giant asteroid hits the moon from the dark side ( I think) and it had a greater force than expected and pushes the moon out of it's normal orbit, path, rotation, and closer to Earth!!! This book follows one family before and after as everything goes to h#ll right away as tidal waves surge again and again, then more and more disaster happen due to the different forces of the gravitational pull. Other things happen too! Very thrilling and exciting book! Glad I found it! Who knew disasters could be so entertaining, lol, as long as it's in a book!
Profile Image for Rachel Ann.
4 reviews14 followers
July 9, 2011
I don't usually give 1 star unless I really hated the book. I really hated this book.

I'm a sucker for dystopian/end of the world books, let me tell you. I picked this one up at Barnes And Noble last summer in the hopes of finding another book I really loved, but unfortunately that was not the case. The most important part of an end-of-the-world thriller, in my opinion, is it's ability to make you think that it could actually happen. I found Pfeffer's story of the moon being knocked out of orbit so far-fetched that I could barely believe it from the very beginning.

CAUTION: there may be spoilers in this review, so if you haven't yet read this sorry excuse for a book, you might not want to continue reading.

My second problem with this book were the characters. We get to meet Miranda, the spoiled girl who gripes because her mother won't let her eat whatever she wants. We hear the whole story from her POV. Then there's her mother, who constantly attacks George W. Bush, refuses to watch Fox News even though it's the end of the world and CNN lost its news feed, and constantly drills into her children that they aren't to help anyone. No one. Miranda's little brother manages to go to baseball camp despite everything that's happening. One of Miranda's friends refuses to eat because she believes that "God will provide for her". And that's how everyone religious is portrayed in the book. Completely delusional wackos. I feel like Pfeffer's voice and opinions were coming through her characters, making them shallow and unbelievable.

The volcano in Yellowstone park erupts, but yet nothing happens except a little ash. ..Um, what? Tsunamis are threatening the entire coast, the death rate is rising, but yet Miranda's older brother and pregnant girlfriend manage to make it safely to their house. Miranda wanders the streets but never once gets mugged or even close to it. A dangerous virus rages, killing almost everyone who contracts it. Everyone in Miranda's family gets it except her, but yet no one dies. How convenient. The electricity flickers on at random times, and with it, the internet magically works. Even when the electricity is off, they have running water. It appears that Pfeffer didn't even research anything the slightest amount.

The story gets increasingly dull in the middle. Page after page after page of Miranda and her family living in their sunroom, surviving with nothing at all happening. I almost stopped reading then, but I still had hopes that maybe, just maybe, the book would redeem itself at the end. It didn't. Miranda's family had finally run out of food, and she was walking the streets, expecting to die. But to her luck, she makes her way to the city hall. We've already been told that crops aren't making it, the food supplies are dwindling, and basically, there's nothing left. But lo and behold, the city hall is giving out a bag of food every Monday! Now where did this food come from? This is only one mystery of Pfeffer's failed dystopian world. I found myself left with a disappointed feeling, a book I hated, and a wasted $7.95.

Profile Image for Stacey (prettybooks).
515 reviews1,548 followers
February 9, 2017
I warn you, this is going to make me sound a little odd, if not insane: I read this book in bed, on the way to work, whenever I had free time. I’d be walking along the road thinking about how it’s probably good that someone shared their lunch with me today because we need to save food. And it’s really grey today. Damn those volcanic ash clouds blocking the sun. I imagined all the food we’d stock up on. What would be like to bring back cars full of tinned and jarred food? I need to remember to stock up on chocolate.

And then I’d snap out of it (“Wait. What?”). I felt so completely absorbed in this novel that I actually felt like it was happening to me. It is told in diary form, which reminded me of first-hand accounts that they show on the news when there’s some sort of catastrophe, like with the recent tsunami disaster in Japan. These accounts make you understand what’s happening to different groups of people without being there. That’s what was happening with me.

The story is very simply told (which I found realistic as 16-year-olds’ diaries often aren’t literary masterpieces), and it won’t convert you if you dislike young-adult literature, but I think this is why I felt more engaged with it. It is very different from adult post-apocalyptic fiction, such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is less brutal and less harrowing, but that’s probably why I could relate to it more. I was so disengaged with the events happening in The Road, which meant that it had less of an impact on me, whereas Life As We Knew is about a family struggling to cope after a meteor crashes into the moon, causing the orbit to be altered. Civilisation isn’t wiped out completely but it forces people to adapt very quickly to a utterly different way of daily living. The family is only able to find out what’s happening in the rest of the world (many, many deaths, famine, volcanic eruptions, flooding) through rare radio broadcasts. Mostly, it’s just Miranda’s thoughts and her account of life with her mother and her two brothers, confined to their home, wondering if they’re going to live or die.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can see why it has received so much praise. I’m unsure as to whether I’ll read the next two books, The Dead and the Gone and This World We Live In , as the reviews are pretty bad. But we’ll see. I’m now really excited about the prospect of reading more YA post-apocalyptic novels such as America Pacifica and Ashes, Ashes . Hooray! Another genre to love.

Dystopian or Not Dystopian? Not Dystopian

I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.
Profile Image for Lucie.
100 reviews28 followers
February 21, 2021
This story gives you page after page of quietly powerful sentences... deep life lessons that will stay with you long after you've put this book down.

Miranda, once a typical teenage girl, now faces the unthinkable for herself and for her family. A large meteor has collided with the moon, pushing it closer to Earth, causing tidal waves, tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes. The power grid is destroyed. Volcanic ash now blocks the sun. Everywhere, people are dying from freezing temperatures and starvation. This horrific situation forces Miranda to grow up quickly in an effort to save her friends and family, and she inevitably discovers what's really important in life.

“Do people ever realize how precious life is? I know I never did before. There was always time. There was always a future.”

“I've resolved to take a moment every day for the rest of my life to appreciate what I have.”

“Today... I am 17 and warm and well fed, I'm keeping this journal for myself so I can always remember life as we knew it... We're all alive. We're all healthy. These are the good times.”
Profile Image for Anniebananie.
536 reviews401 followers
July 28, 2019
Nach einem holprigen Start, bei dem ich mich noch an den etwas gewöhnungsbedürftigen Schreibstil gewöhnen musste, hat mich das Buch echt begeistern können! Auch mit dem Schreibstil konnte ich mich dann anfreunden, da die Tagebuch-Erzählweise einfach perfekt zur Geschichte passt.
Miranda, als Protagonistin, fand ich Anfang etwas nervig, halt die typische 16-Jährige mit doch recht trivialen Problemen und Ansichten. Doch innerhalb der Geschichte macht sie eine tolle Entwicklung durch.
Die Stimmung ist durchweg bedrückend, typisch Endzeit-Szenario, was mir seeeeehr gut gefallen hat. Auch die Probleme und die Lösungsansätze, die Miranda zusammen mit ihrer Familie versucht zu finden und zu verfolgen, fand ich gelungen dargestellt und geschildert.
Dennoch fand ich eine Sache etwas unlogisch/fragwürdig, würde allerdings spoilern wenn ich genau sage was ich meine.
Deshalb und wegen des holprigen Starts muss ich leider einen Stern abziehen bei meiner Bewertung, dennoch ein aus meiner Sicht sehr gelungener Endzeit-Jugendroman :)
Profile Image for Anne Goldschrift.
326 reviews402 followers
February 11, 2018
Die Idee hinter der Geschichte fand ich toll, was daraus gemacht wurde aber nicht. Alles war so belanglos und oberflächlich, Miranda merkwürdig, die Mutter verrückt und das Ende, darüber sprechen wir am besten einfach nicht.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
November 16, 2017
This is one of the most psychologically terrifying books I've ever read, and I think that's because of its hyper-realism. I don't know if I'd class this as dystopian. I think I'd class this as a survival tale. And a terrifying one at that.

It's a smooth progression from a completely normal situation to a freakish horror scenario. Miranda's world progresses so slowly, so smoothly, that it's hard to even realize how nightmarish her life has become.

Don't expect any jump scares, or explicitly scary scenes, yet the whole book is terrifying. The focus is all on showing and not on telling.

And Miranda's character arc? Stunning. She grows from a very naive and downright dreamy kid to an incredibly mature kid, and you barely notice. Again, the showing and not telling is the main strength of the book.

Honestly, I read this book too long ago to really get everything, but I think you can get anything you want from this review.

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Profile Image for human.
640 reviews987 followers
May 11, 2020
If only I could give negative ratings... *sigh*
I love dystopias. Love, love, love them. But this... urgh. I literally have no words for how much I hated this. It shames all the other wonderful books that call themselves dystopias by putting this piece of junk under that same category.
That's how much I hated it. H-A-T-E-D it.
I literally get mad thinking about this book.
Profile Image for Amber.
215 reviews
October 14, 2015
For someone who doesn't always like YA, I really liked this book. It wasn't because of the writing style (which was simple), it was because the plot was so engaging. This post-apocalypic book gave me the heebie jeebies big time.

I think the reason why this book really grabbed my attention was the fact that it didn’t seem so far fetched. I mean maybe the specific catastrophe of a asteroid crashing into the moon and pushing it much closer to Earth is far fetched, but any kind of disaster could happen that would leave us trying to get by without the comforts of our thermostat, supermarket, gas stations, etc. This book is told through the diary entries of a teenage girl who lives in Philadelphia. Her family struggles to get by and bit by bit things get worse. It was scary seeing their reality and wondering if it will ever come to that for us in real life. I thought the character of Miranda was pretty believable in her capabilities and mood swings. Miranda is still a teenager dealing with teenager problems even though it’s pretty much the end of the world. The pacing of the book was spot on for building suspense and tension. There were a few plot holes, but I had to overlook that because not many books make me want to turn into one of those crazy dooms day prepper people who hoard food in their basements and learn secret languages.

This book reminded me a lot of The Age of Miracles even though the writing wasn’t as good. I’m onto book 2.
Profile Image for Stacey (prettybooks).
515 reviews1,548 followers
June 28, 2020
I first read Life As We Knew It five years ago when I couldn't get enough of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. This time, I was looking for an audiobook to listen to on my commute and after a few failed attempts at reading paperbacks while squished on the train, a re-read seemed like the perfect choice!

I loved Life As We Knew It originally because it made me feel like I was surviving alongside Miranda after a meteor collides with the moon, altering the Earth's climate, making it almost impossible to continue with life as it was. If anything, the audiobook was even more atmospheric. Miranda reading her diary aloud meant that I caught little bits of the story that I think I missed the first time – Emily Bauer has done a fantastic job at narrating the audiobook. It's been 10 years since it was first published, but Life As We Knew It is still one of the few YA post-apocalyptic novels that had me thinking about it after I put it down.

I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.
Profile Image for Kristin.
464 reviews22 followers
February 3, 2008
This one has been so popular with the sixth graders I actually snagged it from the "return" box so I could finally read it! What a strange, depressing-yet-hopeful story about a family's struggle to survive after the moon is knocked out of its orbit and closer to Earth. It is definitely a page-turner, but I would also find myself kind of down after reading it.
The one thing that bothers me about this book is that Christianity is portrayed in a horrible way. The main character (Miranda) has a best friend (Megan) who has "changed" since she became a Christian. As the story unfolds, you see Megan behaving like a Christian, but spouting a pharisitical, self-depricating version of Christianity. She eventually starves herself to death, deciding it would be better to be in heaven. Miranda says many times to Megan, "I hate your god." At first I was really offended, but I think that the "God" that these characters looked to is nothing like the God I know. So while I was sad that Christianity was shown in this light, I don't recognize the God we serve in that story. Kind of wary about putting this one back on the shelf for sixth graders, due to that issue as well as profanity and a few indirect sexual references. But the librarian recommended it to them and they love it. What to do?
Profile Image for Juli.
1,879 reviews473 followers
November 16, 2017
Life on Earth changes suddenly for humanity when a large asteroid strikes the moon, knocking it closer to the planet. The tides change, weather gets more violent, and volcanoes begin erupting. One day 16-year old Miranda is a typical teenager....and the next she finds herself fighting for her life. What would happen if society ended? Miranda keeps a daily diary about what happens after the abrupt end of modern society.

Life As We Knew it is the first of four books in the Last Survivors series. I enjoy dystopian stories and disaster movies, so I knew I would like this series. And I do....but....

There's always a but, isn't there.....so let's get that "but'' out of the way before I talk about what I like about this series.

It is not possible for an asteroid to strike the moon and knock it closer to the planet earth. I looked up multiple scientific articles on it written by astronomers, scientists, astrophysicists.....and they all basically said it's not a possible scenario. Even if an asteroid measuring 600-miles across hit the moon, it would not alter its orbit. It would just add another huge crater to its surface. It would take a moon-sized object hitting the moon to have a big enough effect on it to wobble it even just a little bit out of its current path.....and that hard of a strike would most likely just obliterate the moon, not shove it into a closer orbit with our planet. The logical side of my brain had a difficult time engaging with this story at first while it was mulling over the moon strike scenario. I had to put the book down, look up the facts and sift through a lot of science before I could return to the story.

In the end, the impossible (or highly improbable) nature of the disaster itself did not hurt my enjoyment of this book. The real impact of the plot is not about what would happen on Earth if the moon was in a closer orbit....but what would happen to humanity and society if there was a permanent, disastrous change to the climate on our world. What would happen in the months and years following an extinction level event? And how would a family deal with surviving surrounded by constant danger, death and uncertainty? This book paints a very real picture of what daily life could become following such an event. Miranda learns quickly about death, starvation, sickness, uncertainty, natural dangers, and loneliness. Things we take for granted now would be of greater significance in a world where modern society no longer exists.

The series is written for the Young Adult audience so there is no graphic sex, violence or grisly death scenes. But, Pfeffer pulls no punches. Death, illness and human frailty are at the forefront of this story. I wouldn't recommend this series for kids under 13. The theme would be a bit too much for younger kids. There is no miraculous happy ending offered, or sweet love story to cover up the stark horrors. This isn't that sort of YA story.....this is hard hitting and thought provoking. I found myself thinking about how my family would react to a similar incident. Could we survive? And, what would happen in the small town I live in if we were all suddenly cut off from modern conveniences and society? Would we all band together to survive? Or would things rapidly descend into violence? I hope I never have to find out.

Life As We Knew It is a story about love and hope in a time where all hope seems lost. So despite the disaster itself being far-fetched, I found myself completely lost in this story. I couldn't put the book down and stayed up until 3 am to finish reading. Excellent start to a series....I am definitely reading the other 3 books!

Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of several YA books. Check out her blog: http://susanbethpfeffer.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
858 reviews3,756 followers
November 23, 2018
Would recommend if you like post apocalyptic stories!

-I love survival stories in general, and this fulfilled that.
-A very realistic feeling apocalyptic event.
-I loved that this showed the very beginning of the crisis and how survivors dealt with drastic changes.
-The diary entry format suited this story and gave a personal touch.
-I liked that the ending actually touched on a broad scale solution.

-The writing was very simplistic.
-Insensitive wording concerning mental health and disability.
-A handful of scenes contain fat shaming.

Audio Review: 2 stars
Narrated by Emily Bauer. She had to grow on me. I was warned that the narrator made the character sound immature, but I think that is actually due to the writing. (And keep in mind that the character is 15.) As for voicing... she didn't even try. All characters sounded the same.

tw: death, starvation, hanging, MC makes flippant suicidal statements.
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 6 books479 followers
May 6, 2008
Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com

If you're looking for one of the best books of 2006, then look no further than Susan Beth Pfeffer's LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. A wonderful tale of family love, loss, and survival, this is one story that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

There have been lots of changes in sixteen-year-old Miranda's life recently. Her older brother, Matt, is away at college. Her mom is still adjusting to being a divorced parent. Her younger brother, Jonny, is obsessed with baseball. And her dad and his new wife, Lisa, are expecting a baby. Dealing with all of that has been quite stressful, but Miranda's been thinking about getting back into ice-skating, and she's spending plenty of time mooning over her current hero/crush, Olympic-hopeful Brandon Erlich, a hometown hero.

Miranda's also excited about the meteor that's headed towards the Moon. Some scientists predict a minor collision; teachers predict plenty of extra homework dealing with the subjects of both Moon and meteors. For Miranda and her family, and for millions of others around the world, it simply sounds like a cool event you'll get to watch from your front yard through a pair of binoculars.

What happens on that fateful night is something no one expected. The meteor does, in fact, collide with the Moon. However, the impact was stronger than anyone had previously thought possible, and immediately, all throughout planet Earth, the effects of that collision begin to be felt. Tides, which are controlled by the Moon, become erratic, causing deadly tidal waves. Fissures in the Earth's crust crack, causing earthquakes worldwide, even in places where no earthquakes had ever occurred before. Within twenty-four hours, it becomes apparent that thousands upon thousands of people have died, and that, with the Moon out of its normal orbit, many more deaths are sure to follow.

This may sound like a depressing story, but in fact it's a story about hope and survival. LIFE AS WE KNEW IT follows Miranda and her family through nearly a year after the meteor's collision with the Moon, and all of the events that come after it--the power outages, the food shortages, the weather changes, and the loss of human contact. As Miranda and her family come to grips with this new way of living, their bodies and spirits will be tested more than they've ever been before. But this is ultimately a story about learning to survive with what you've got, and never taking what you have for granted. A wonderful, inspiring story, LIFE AS WE KNEW IT is one you'll want to read more than once.
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 45 books128k followers
September 8, 2009
This is very much a young adult book, but very interesting. Things tend to happen a bit too easy, but still very interesting, a sort of Anne Frank for the apocalypse. Definitely recommend to teen readers and others.
Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books336 followers
June 11, 2013
Imagine Armageddon directed by Catherine Hardwicke instead of Michael Bay. Life As We Knew It is an end-of-the-world scenario told through the eyes of a teenage girl, who writes down everything that happens in amazingly long and detailed diary entries, which become increasingly implausible as she writes multi-page narratives about how she just dragged her entire sick family out of a smoke-filled sunroom while on the verge of starving to death herself.

This is not a bad book -- it's got a voice that will speak to teen readers (though I think that voice sounds more like Mom than that of an actual teenage girl) and it's got moments of drama and a heartwarming hope-will-carry-you-through message. But speaking as someone whose YA reading when I was a teen was more along the lines of Robert Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and (oh, the shame!) Piers Anthony, I found Life As We Knew It to be a rather dumbed-down apocalypse in which the author pulled her punches every time. All the horror is abstracted away; Miranda knows bad things are happening out in the world, but she's never confronted with any real terror-filled moments, and most of her suffering boils down to hunger and boredom.

Miranda's family are the antithesis of Heinlein characters -- where Heinlein's protagonists are omni-competent superheroes who are supposed to teach you that humans can survive anything with enough determination and resourcefulness, Miranda and her family basically sit in their house rationing their hoarded food and hoping someone will show up to turn the power back on and feed them, teaching you that the only hope in a crisis is the government. (If you think with this little rant that I'm some kind of anti-government libertarian, my fondness for Heinlein juveniles notwithstanding, you are so off-base, but the passivity and helplessness of these characters just annoyed me no end.) Pfeffer wanted to make us feel what the end of the world might be like for an ordinary teenager, and in that she succeeded, but quite frankly, an ordinary teenager isn't likely to survive a situation like that.

I gave this book two stars because it annoyed me with the lack of any proactive action and the convenient ending that only reinforced the whole wait-for-help message of the book, but I have to admit that I believed in Miranda as a character, she was pretty sympathetic, and the book is a page-turner that moves right along. I think a younger reader would probably enjoy it a lot more; this is one of those Young Adult novels that just isn't likely to have much appeal for a grown-up who's read any real science fiction.
Profile Image for Annalisa.
525 reviews1,347 followers
April 17, 2010
I'm not sure whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. It's definitely a page turner. I found myself increasingly anxious for Miranda and her family, but unfortunately, I didn't get much resolution. In the end, there is still volcanic ash in the sky meaning there will be no future food production whenever the cans of food that magically appear at city hall are extinguished. It just extended their inevitable deaths. Just a mention that the sky was clearing would have been enough for me to hope. I also didn't mind that she never figured out what happened to Dan and her dad, but she could have at least asked about a letter from her dad at city hall. Then if nothing was there, I would have assumed that something happened to her father and leave it at that, but she goes downtown to ask and then nothing.

It made me sad that everyone knew Jonny was the one to survive if it came down to one. I wanted a reason for Jonny instead of Matt or Miranda, something more than he was the youngest and a boy. That Miranda knew that and when she confronted her mother she didn't say anything to deny it or comfort her bugged me about her. I didn't always like her mother, but I didn't always like Miranda either, which just made them realistic portrayals of mother and daughter. I enjoyed the unfolding of the characters as much as I enjoyed the plot unfolding.

The story was frightening and made me want to go out and double-stock my food storage. A lot of the daily trials that I hadn't considered popped up in the story. Miranda's mom was smart, getting right on the ball buying up all the supplies they needed, but even then, I kept thinking that their food supply should have run out long before—and they were the ones who bothered stocking up. How was everyone else surviving? I know how the preacher was surviving, but I wish there had been some follow up with him too, some discovery that he had died in the flu epidemic. I wanted her to find out how many people in her town survived. Now that city hall was open and they had food, they could have asked. It's good that the book made me question so many things, I just wish a few of my questions had been answered.

On a sidenote, Pfeffer's statement that people who turn to God in times of grief brainwashed and stupid rubbed me the wrong way. There's also her obvious portrayal of Bush as an idiot hiding out on his ranch in Texas telling everyone that everything was okay. That didn't bother me as much as I just didn't think this was the place for such strong political (or religious) statements. It added character to the story for sure. I just didn't like it. Religion and politics, the two taboo topics and all that.

The book had a lot of promise, but I wanted more. More from Miranda, more explanation of what was going on, and more of a conclusion. Not more as in I loved the story and want to continue it. More as in if Pfeffer had answered a few things for me than maybe I would be curious, but she left too much open for me to go on.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Carol.
2,409 reviews74 followers
November 14, 2021
Every now and then a person needs a good disaster movie or book. Don't know why but I think it might be watching how predictable those in charge cause even more problems and how the human spirit can rise to the occasion in spite of everything. Oh...this one doesn't even have zombies:) I loved that the people facing this particular disaster stayed calm and mostly rational in the face of the crises and how the mother tries to get her family prepared as she fiercely tries to protect them. As the world becomes more isolated because of the lack of working communication devices...no cell phones folks... the daughter keeps her diary going recording her thoughts and feelings. It's through her communications with herself that we learn the story of life after the meteor hit the moon and causes tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanos and more. At first they think that the government will help...(Oh yeah like that's going to happen!)…and all will settle down and life will go back to normal. Eventually they begin to realize that nothing in their life may ever be normal again and things more than likely are going to get a whole lot worse. The global mess becomes much more personal to them as this young girl and her brothers try to adjust from proms, football games and homework, to washing the laundry by hand and staving off hunger. It's a YA book designed for 12 years and older... so just how dark and bad it could and would get if this actually happened was really down played...but it was fun seeing this young girl deal with her life changing perhaps forever.
Profile Image for meher !.
77 reviews
December 5, 2020
stupid mc? check.
stupid plot? check.
stupid waste of time? check.
the world is """ENDING"" and her first thought: procure resources? no. she desperately tries to get a boyfriend!!!
a total iq level: 1000000000000000000 move on her part!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,313 reviews215 followers
January 10, 2018
This have been on my TBR for a while and I was really excited that it was available at my library. I have been trying to my TBR down from 2500 (I think I'm down about like a hundred.. maybe? Who knows.) Either way I was really excited to read this book. Plus, a new author? Heck yes, sign me up!

Life As We Knew It was surprisingly good. It did have some boring parts but I somehow overlooked those (wine helps a lot with these sort of problems! or food). The characters can sometimes be likable but they do make stupid decisions throughout the book. It was kind of annoying to just read what they were saying or believing. Long story short, I definitely rolled my eyes a whole bunch of times.

Then there's the storyline which I was kind of iffy about. I like survival stories or when people are thrown into different situations (like the 100 or something) but this book just had me flip-flopping all over the place. I would probably be bald if I went from flip-flopping to pulling out my hair in frustration.

Overall, I liked the book. I would've loved it but there's nothing I can really change about it since this book has been out for like ever. I don't really know what else to say. I guess I just expected more but I can accept what I read at the same time? I will definitely have to think about whether or not I want to continue this series because I don't want to be disappointed by the next book or be mad because someone else read the second book and said it was a lot better than the first.

Tough decision guys - make it for me!
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,400 reviews11.7k followers
December 18, 2009
"Life as We Knew It" is a teen book version of disaster movies such as "Armageddon," "2012," and "The Day After Tomorrow" told from a 16-year old girl's POV. Basically, you have a natural cataclysm that affects the entire planet and you follow a girl and her family through their day-to-day struggles to survive the aftermath.

The book is compelling in many ways. You find yourself imagining what you would do in Miranda’ situation. Like many have said in the reviews before me, you feel an urge to get ready for such a disaster and stock up on canned food and fuel.

What is disappointing about this book however, is the flatness of the narration. Call me naive, but I expect a high point, some kind of conflict, climax if you wish, in every book I read. This book is rather underwhelming in that respect. There is rarely any excitement or drama. There is no intensity or build-up, and thus the long-awaited resolution fails to touch you.

Another bothersome thing is the author's too obvious political views and opinions of religion. While I share Pfeffer's views, I think she should have been a little more subtle about them, after all it's a book for kids.

Overall, an engrossing but monotonous book. I enjoyed listening to it but I am not sure if I want to read the sequel.

Reading challenge: #1 - L.
Profile Image for Megan.
418 reviews385 followers
September 9, 2010
I am so not as prepared for the end of the world as I thought I was!

Years and years ago, I had a massive platonic crush on a girl named Micheala. She was awesome…. She had bright orange dreadlocks and rode an orange, sparkly motorcycle (and knew how to fix it!) She grew her own veggies, canned them, made pottery, knew how to knit, how to make paper, how to make her own cat food, she was making a loom so she could make her own cloth for clothes... not that she actually did all of this stuff on a regular basis. But she had the equipment and the knowledge. One day, she confessed to me that she had a day dream about the end of the world and being able to be totally self sufficient while everything else was a shambles. She was my hero, I thought she was amazing. (Did I mention that I smoked a lot of pot when I was younger?? ;))

It’s been years since Micheala & I have hung out, and I’m lately too busy with regular life to continue learning all of these crazy handmade crafts that I used to be so fascinated in. But I still love dystopian, apocalyptic stories. So, of course Life as We Knew It is right up my alley. The moon being knocked into a different orbit & irreversibly changing conditions on earth is just about as big of an apocalypse as there is. Susan Beth Pfeffer provided plenty of natural disasters to make life in northeastern PA pretty grim and crappy. Miranda is a likeable character with a voice that is easy to read. She is an incredibly realistic teenager ~ self involved, not too aware of the world around her. But as others have pointed out, this story, while mesmerizing, falls a little flat. There is no climax, no controversy. Although I appreciate the realness of Miranda not knowing or caring to know the condition of the world around her… I want to know! Even so, I enjoyed reading about the trials Miranda & her family faced and how they dealt with them.

I am definitely reading the second in this series. Hopefully Miranda and her family will learn more about becoming self-sufficient (I wonder why they didn’t turn to the library for survival books?)Maybe there will be some tension, a love interest, and more natural disasters. But if not, I’m sure I will continue to read and use this as both a reference and a check list… better safe than sorry, right? ;)
Profile Image for Chris.
655 reviews15 followers
February 20, 2021
Living through what we are currently living through with an epidemic, failing of infrastructure, climate change, etc. made for a very realistic portrayal of a world in turmoil and a family struggling to survive.

I read reviews that GR members wrote before we were hit with a pandemic across the world, massive illness and deaths, infrastructure breakdowns, climate change, political unrest, racial and gender equality protests, tsunamis, wildfires, melting glaciers, a failing leadership, economy challenges, and I wonder if their reviews would change based on what we all are going through right now.

This book is based on a teenaged girls daily life journaling during the time when an asteroid first hit the moon, resulting in all kinds of catastrophic injuries to the earth and its people. I know people are currently keeping journals from their lives over this past pandemic year and really, would it be so much different from this book depending on where you lived and what your resources were and how smart/creative you might be in your quest to survive?

After turning the last page and going to bed, I could not sleep at all ruminating of many of my experiences and their family’s experiences. I was stunned by the similarities.

At the time of this post-apopolyptic publication, it probably never entered anyone’s minds that we might find ourselves in a similar world predicament in 2020, fighting for our lives and trying so hard to keep a vision of hope and ultimately return to some kind of normalcy.

I understand this book is part of a series and will read the others in due time.

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