Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event--an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex's parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.
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
it has come to this. last week, while waiting for more books to come up to shelve, i was idly wondering if this book had come out in paperback yet. it had. so i ran downstairs, pushing folks out of the way on the escalator and making a beeline for teen fiction where i whooped and grabbed a copy. ashamed of my excitement, i made my way back upstairs, trying to figure out how the mighty had fallen. (and by mighty, i mean only those vehemently opposed to adults who read teen fiction). now, i am only opposed to adults who read teen fiction exclusively. come find me in a year or two and see what is happening then.
but i thought this book would be worth a read. it is the second part of the series that describes what happens when an asteroid scootches the moon a little closer to us. tsunamis, volcanoes, panic, volcanic ash covering the sun, cold, starvation, more panic, crop death. the first one i thought was only eh. it was narrated by a kind of whiny white girl in pennsylvania suburbia. this one was supposed to have been narrated by a puerto rican teenager living in new york city! splendid, i thought - that's where i live! let's see what will happen here - maybe i can get some more end-of-world- pointers, just in case.
the problem is, these two characters are interchangeable. it's true, he will occasionally blurt out a spanish phrase in the middle of his speeches. but just cuz you know a little spanish, doesn't make you authentic (pingüino). just because dave chappelle wears whiteface he doesn't then become "white", just hilarious. and that's this book's problem. there are times when it is hilarious. for example: the main character, a hard-working, catholic-school-attending, second-in-his-class, doing-homework-after-the-apocalypse kind of kid- this kid doesn't know how to make macaroni because of the traditional gender roles of his ethnicity?? "it goes in a pot??" something about his complete helplessness doesn't ring true.
and mon dieu, don't get me started on the catholic thing. if i entered a church now, i would probably go up in flames, but i was indeed raised roman catholic.and i know catholics make for passive and somewhat wimpy heroes (although i saw book of eli yesterday, and that - while not being overall a great movie- had some serious badassery in it) and i totally understand the moral burden of catholicism, but this is survival, son... jesus would want you to have some canned goods. in the apocalypse, breaking into apartments from which the owners have fled is not stealing, it is persevering. you can only turn the other cheek and do unto others for so long, at some point you have to eat.
and i see these catholic school kids in the store after school lets out daily. and i assume we get the nerdiest of that population because who else would come to a bookstore to hang out, manga or no manga... but if we are getting the nerdiest of the batch, the kids in this book are not among them. the kids in this book do not exist in the parochial schools of new york. maybe rhode island - somewhere more sheltered and polite. maybe.
this is what kills me - the book is called "wrenchingly plausible" but it is in no way authentic-seeming, either in voice or occurrences. there are some scenes of mob-mentality, but it all seems like gentle-mall violence, not nyfc. and yes it is teen fiction, but so is hunger games, and that is masterful in its control of violence.
and they don't seem too resourceful anyway. after reading three of the brian books by gary paulsen, i understand teen ingenuity. even though it is fiction, it has the ring of truth - his thought processes and trial-and-errors make sense. this kid doesn't seem like any urban 17-year-old i have come across in my workaday life (including the ones i shoved to get to this book), and his younger sisters are worse than useless.
THIS IS WHERE I MAY BE SPOILING SOMETHING IF YOU PLAN ON READING THIS BOOK SO BEWARE AND DO NOT CROSS THIS BARRIER.
i don't care how religious you are, you do not shake the hand of the man who offers to pimp out your sister and say "no hard feelings." dude! jesus would totally not be into that. he would allow you a little resentment. maybe a kick or two. as long as you repent...
also - unrelated to child-prostitution - the same "out" was used as was used in the first book, for one character, to be sent somewhere "better" for a time, if i am remembering correctly. boo-urns for repetition.
but i know that when the third book comes out, i will be pushing teen readers out of the way with a vengeance. and if the moon gets any closer, i will be breaking into your apartments to get at your canned beets. count on it. so stock up.
If I thought Life As We Knew It made me want to create the world's greatest emergency preparedness kit, it was nothing compared to The Dead and the Gone. This book scared the living daylights out of me. After begging a friend for the ARC, I had to put it down instead of reading it straight through in order to avoid nightmares.
Premise of both books: meteor hits moon, natural-disaster apocalypse ensues in the form of a collapsed infrastructure, food shortages, epidemics, etc. Life As We Knew It took place in a suburban Pennsylvania town much like the one I grew up in. TD&TG took place in New York City, a city much like the one I live in now. I don't know if it was the urban setting feeling a little too familiar, but this book freaked me out even more than the first one.
Let's just establish this right now: if I were ever to have to experience an apocalypse, I probably wouldn't make it. Luckily, Susan Beth Pfeffer focuses on characters much tougher and more resourceful than I am. Alex is a smart, hardworking, low-income, high-achieving junior in high school whose dad has just flown to Puerto Rico for his grandmother's funeral. Disaster hits, and when the power goes out and the city starts to panic, Alex is at home with full responsibility for his two younger sisters.
I was most interested and impressed by the elements of this story that weren't mentioned in the first one: Alex's story is shaped by his cultural surroundings, especially power and privilege (or lack thereof) and religion. The gritty details of how he has to survive keep the plot moving, but never overshadow his moral and emotional struggle. I think LAWKI set the stage and told an engrossing, nail-biting story; TD&TG couldn't surprise readers with the premise's twists and turns, but used that to its advantage by offering a deeper and more complex web of responses and relationships.
The Last Survivors series continues with Book 2 -- The Dead and The Gone. An asteroid strikes the moon, knocking it closer to Earth. Devastating climate changes and natural disasters immediately strike, ending modern society and starting humanity's downward spiral towards possible extinction. Alex Morales lives in New York City with his family. One day they are a happy, large Puerto Rican family....and the next Alex finds himself trying to survive with his two younger sisters. Alone. In a city filled with death and chaos. Can they survive, or will they join millions of others in death?
While the actual disaster scenario is pretty much scientifically impossible, this series does realistically portray the impact of a large scale extinction level disaster. Alex and his sisters have to grow up quickly when they find themselves without parents in a city almost completely shut down in an instant. Alex has to learn to scavenge from dead bodies and vacant apartments in order to have food, medicine and basic necessities. Thousands of people are searching for missing loved ones, even searching through unidentified corpses laid out in Yankee Stadium. Dead bodies pile up, leading to illness. Starvation causes acts of violence. The city rapidly disintegrates into a very dangerous place. Alex and his sisters lean on their Catholic faith and the last remnants of hope, as the world falls apart around them.
The Last Survivors series is written for YA readers, so there is no graphic violence, sex or bad language. The subject matter, however, is very dark and I wouldn't recommend the series for kids under 13. It might be a bit too much for younger children. As an adult, the series is very thought provoking, making me wonder how my town and my own family would react to a similar large scale disaster. In modern society, we rely heavily on technology for communication, basic necessities and safety....what if all that was removed in an instant? What if life as as we know it was suddenly, and permanently, very different? Where would I turn for hope when things seem hopeless?
Just like book 1, this book is in diary form. The story is very well-written and interesting, yet disturbing. Excellent series so far!
I didn't like the characters as much as the first book (this is a companion novel following a new family of survivors), but I did appreciate that the author showed us this same event from such a different perspective and setting. I enjoyed seeing how a huge city like New York would be affected by these natural disasters.
The main character, Alex, hits or thinks about hitting his younger sister sometimes, which was difficult to reconcile with my wish to root for him. There was a lot of sexism and an emphasis on traditional gender roles. Like, Alex didn't know how to make PASTA because "cooking is a girl's job." It's the end of the world! Learn how to open a can of spinach yourself, dude! Though less angsty and more mature than Miranda from the first book, his and his sisters' actions were more irritating.
Rep: Main character and his family are Puerto Rican.
tw: death, floods, illness, a brother hits his sister, starvation, sexism.
It was really hard work to finish this book! I have loved the first volume but in this it felt like even the author couldn't really get into character. :-/
Naturally, it didn't help that the characters had medieval worldviews including their opinion about what was "women's work" and what was the definition and job of a man! Moreover, the religious fanaticism (I have no other word for it) was excrutiatingly painful. I've read books about religious people before and although I myself am an atheist, it was fine. But this (especially Bri) was too much, almost unbearable and slowed me down a lot. Adding to that, I struggled with the quite unrealistic character of Alex - a seventeen-year-old teenager from a poor Puerto Rican family who is an excellent student, goes to an all-boys catholic school and wants to become the president of the United Stated but has almost no knowledge of volcanoes, earthquakes, the moon and such because prayers are more important (I didn't mind all that much that he was out of his depth often since I think even adults would be if we're honest/realistic).
I almost feared the book would be this bad after being warned by some people, but I wanted to see for myself and I wanted to know about Alex' background since he seems to become important in the next book of the series (which actually is volume 2, this was sort of an intermediary story). Well, unfortunately it was almost an entire waste of time. :-(
I can’t seem to understand why I torture myself with apocalyptic novels such as The Dead and the Gone, because I’m always left with a sense of gloom and despair long after turning the final pages. I read the companion novel Life As We Knew It, and swore I’d stay away from this book because it scared the beejeezuz out of me. Well I saw it on my library shelf just glaring me in the face and daring to be read, so I picked it up like a dummy; and now I want to go to the store and stock up on food, medicine and water in case the world comes to an end sometime soon. Ugh! This book is so scary and surreal, and I really regret reading it. To think this could happen is a real downer.
In this novel, the moon is hit by an asteroid causing it to shift from its axis and position itself closer to the earth. This causes disastrous effects such as tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc; and all because the gravitational pull from the moon to the earth has been altered. The story is told from Alex’s perspective and through his eyes we read about the suffering people endure because of the cold, hunger and grief that result from this event. Nothing uplifting or fulfilling about this book. Just one big disappointment and loss after another.
Overall, I couldn’t enjoy this book. It was depressing and the religious themes wrapped around the storyline really irked me. In addition, there were aspects that l felt were left unresolved including the fate of three repeating characters. And in the end, I felt like the book just abruptly ended. Maybe that was the purpose of this novel; to challenge my religious beliefs and faith and leave me with a sense of foreboding. Grrr! Not something I feel comfortable recommending, and if you do, make sure you have a healthy dose of pick-me-up at the ready.
I seriously love reading this series. I get so enthralled with books that are set in a post apocalyptic world--well, at least one where natural disasters are going crazy. I'm not sure which one I enjoyed more, this one or the companion (Life As We Knew It). Both had their highs and lows...but this one KILLED me for two major plot points:
Alex's dad was the super of the building. He would've had keys to every apartment. And, even if he didn't have the keys,
Don't get the idea that I didn't really enjoy this book; I totally did. I have some sort of sick obsession with survival stories.
Ok so I was wrong about the whole trilogy thing. What happens in these books, which is actually a cool idea, is the first book is about Miranda in Pennsylvania, and the second book is about Alex in New York, a completely different cast of characters dealing with the same end-of-the-world catastrophe. But I hated this one. First off, I was infuriated by the gender roles and sexism in this book. Alex automatically delegates all cooking and cleaning to his sisters, while he always does the "manly" work. At least, he seems to think he's the toughest of them. Toward the end, he even goes so far as to think that it doesn't matter what others will think of how his sisters have managed in this crisis, because since they're "just girls" they aren't expected to do anything anyway. He orders his sisters around, even though one is 15 and one is 12 going on 13, definitely able to think for themselves a little bit, or be in charge of their own person. After reading the first book, where the Evans family clearly loved each other and worked as an equal team for survival, this family seems hierarchical and even degrading. Also, even though the dated entry format was kept up, the book is written in 3rd person, so it's unclear who or if anyone is doing the journaling, and so I wonder what the point of continuing the format this way was. Also, it was saturated in Catholicism and God, which I'm not fond of reading just because that's not my view. Especially after reading the first book, which painted a pretty horrible picture of Christianity and God in a time of crisis, it was odd to see the same author set a completely different tone about religion in this book. This all being said, I'm still interested to read the 3rd book because in it, Miranda is again the narrator, but the book deals with what happens when her father, stepmother, half sibling, and Alex (from book 2) shows up at her door, and they get together somehow, although it seems that the relationship doesn't work out. Honestly, I hope not. I don't want to condemn Miranda to being a housewife and being considered "just a girl." Also, I know I'm taking these books too seriously, but I still can't believe that after our strong feminine hero in book one, the male hero of book two is not such a great model.
Opening Line: “At the moment when life as he had known it changed forever, Alex Morales was behind the counter at Joey’s Pizza, slicing a spinach pesto pie into roughly eight equal pieces.”
Oh this was good, probably just as good as Life As We Knew It but the shock factor from that 1st book kind of knocks this one down a notch. This is a companion book to LAWKI, that’s right the same exact events from a different perspective. Here instead of reading from the diary of a girl in rural Pennsylvania we get the POV of a 17 year old boy in New York City as he also deals with the aftermath of an asteroid hitting the moon and knocking it out of its orbit. The same apocalyptic events follow; Tsunamis claim the coasts, volcanoes erupt, ash fills the sky, arctic winter sets in followed by food shortages, killer flues and starvation.
THE DEAD & THE GONE is equally as realistic and bone chilling as the first book, maybe even more so and also just as fascinating and unlookawayable. Even knowing the turn of events I was going to face this book still managed to shock me and mess with my head. Yup, the OCD is back too, stockpiling food and supplies just in case.
Family again plays a key role within this story as does religion, courage and personal sacrifice and there are couple of scenes in that regard that are going to stick with me for a long time. Like when Alex enters Yankee Stadium in the (hopes?) of identifying the body of his missing mother. This scene is terrifying; right from the militant aspect of him boarding the bus to get to the stadium through to the sounds Susan Beth Pfeffer describes inside. I can still hear the wailing, the buzz. And then there’s “body shopping” with his friend Kevin -amazing what becomes normal in an apocalyptic world. I can’t honestly say I was pleased with the ending, it just sort of well, ends without any resolutions or even a feeling of this is a good place to stop for a cliff hanger. I kept turning the page looking for more. Huh did I miss something? Other than that a fantastic, absorbing read.
17 year old Alex Morales is a junior in high school when cataclysmic events alter his life forever. Within hours of the asteroid hitting the moon his home of New York becomes an unfamiliar city. Panic sets in as the power and phones go out and Alex quickly realizes that with his father in Puerto Rico attending a funeral and his mother unreachable at her job at a hospital in Queens he is in charge of the care and safety of his two younger sisters. With news of subway floodings and worldwide tsunamis he also has no way of knowing if his parents are dead or alive. Waiting to hear of their fate just added another level of suspense to this story.
As summer turns to arctic winter the rich and influential abandon the city, leaving the poor to fend for themselves. Disease and starvation threatens those left behind, food becomes scarce, money no longer has any value and the barter system takes over, what can he trade to feed his sisters for another week? How many tins of food can he get for this watch, this coat, these shoes, this bottle of vodka. How much is this 10,000 dollar winning lottery ticket worth? (A tin of pineapple as it turns out) When his pretty and spirited 12 year old sister becomes something of value Alex has to find a way to get them out of New York at any cost.
I'm so confused by these books! All the way through I complained and whined, the characters painfully unbelievable and about as dimensional as pancakes, but that said I could not stop reading. If I was making a single copy I brought the book to the copy machine. If I was in the elevator going up one floor, I threw my faces into these pages. I casually snuck paragraphs in between work e-mails, one eye on the ink one on the boss door. Pfeffer is an amazing concept writer, and the concept is what pulls you through this book. The characters are bland, and I'm somewhat amazed and disturbed at how emotionally unaffected it left me. How could so many people die in a book and I didn't even consider shedding a tear? I cry at car commercials. This sequel felt like a checklist of things Pfeffer left out of the first book a) glowingly positive representation of religion b) a city setting c) a male main character with sisters. Check, Check, Check felt way too premeditated. Still, an interesting read and a wonderful conversation starter and a promoter of the power of pineapple.
The Dead and the Gone is a strange move for an author and likely a disappointment for readers of Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It. Described as a “companion novel” to Life as We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone provides no extension of the earlier novel; instead, we see (again) the crises of tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, famine, and epidemic disease caused by the moon being knocked out of its orbit. This book covers roughly the same span of time and addresses many of the same issues—both end-of-the-world problem-solving and the ethical compromises and personal growth required to stay alive. Even the rare “high points” of the protag’s difficult existence-—and the near brush with a flu death—-are similar.
The book is reasonably well-written, but I can’t help thinking that Pfeffer has simply written the same book twice instead of taking on new territory. Replication aside, the portrayal of a Puerto Rican family emphasizes certain stereotypes of the Hispanic family (rigid gender roles, intense Catholicism, etc.) ad nauseum. Six months into the crisis, the male protagonist can’t figure out how macaroni is prepared: “You use a pot for that, right?” This is supposed to show how much he depends on his sisters, how their work in the home is just as valuable to their survival. But really?
The 2nd book in the Life as we Knew it/ Last Survivors series.
Alex is the main character. He lives in Manhattan with his parents and 2 younger sisters. His older brother, Carlos joined the Marines.
On the night the huge asteroid hit the moon and pushed it closer to the earth, his mom was on her way to Queens to work at the hospital she was an OR tech at and his dad was in Puerto Rico at his grandmother’s funeral.
Just like that- the world is different. 17 year old Alex’s life as he knew it changes like everyone else’s does, but we get to read about his experiences in this book.
Like the first book, this is in the young adult category but I can’t resist a good survival story. Having read the first book, it was interesting to see the differences between a kid in a rural versus urban setting during the same astrophysical phenomenon.
This book is a companion piece to Life As We Knew It, and we get to see the same exact events (an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth which causes every kind of natural disaster) from a different perspective, this time from a Hispanic boy instead of a white girl, in NYC instead of a small Pennsylvanian town. Their experiences are different enough so that you're not constantly comparing the two even though you have an idea of what's going on.
One of the things I liked best about LAWKI was that the science seemed well researched and realistic. Since Pfeffer couldn't wow me with scientific speculations this time around, I had to focus more on the human element, and that fell a bit short when compared to it's predecessor. Seventeen year-old Alex Morales is Puerto Rican, Catholic, smart, serious and an overachiever. His parents are missing and presumed dead almost immediately, and he alone is left to care for his two younger teenaged sisters, Brianna and Julie. I like that he's resourceful and will do whatever it takes to feed his family, including jumping some ethical hurdles despite his strict religious beliefs. The rich and influential are able to get out of town, but the poor are left to fend for themselves and the Catholic church plays a powerful role in their survival, representing the moral center. (This strong moral belief comes into play in the third book.) But the church can't pull bread and fish out of thin air, so there are a lot of desperate, starving and sick people in the city. And this is where I stopped believing a little bit. Yes, Alex resorts to some morally questionable activities, but I just think that in a big, bad city things would get worse. A lot worse. Even if it wasn't Alex, there would be a lot of other people doing really bad things. Instead, people are calmly waiting in the free food line (save for the one riot we saw), law enforcement isn't an issue, and it's safe to walk the street as long as you have your big brother around. If you don't, a can of pineapples will suffice. Also, there is some ethnic stereotyping (apparently Hispanic males can't cook mararoni, even a potential future President of the United States, but they sure can yell at their little sister!) and one far-fetched plot point I didn't like, which is why wouldn't Alex, as super (his dad) of the building, have keys to the rest of the apartments?? Unlikely.
Besides all that, the story is still compelling and scary and bleak and hopeful, and if you liked the first one, you'll probably like this one as well.
I enjoyed this book almost as much as the author’s companion book Life As We Knew It, which was a pleasant surprise as I did not expect to like it as much. It’s riveting.
The two books together make for very interesting reading as both detail what happens to different families during a natural disaster that causes the moon to move much closer to earth, causing cataclysmic changes.
This book differs in that it’s not told in diary form by a suburban middle class teenage girl but in third person from the vantage point of a working class Catholic teenage boy in New York City. Her characters are ones I really cared about and her stories are so vivid and realistic.
This one was even grimmer than the other book.
It also had a somewhat open ending. I’d like to know what happens in the future to each of the families and it would also be interesting to have a book from the point of view of brand new characters as well.
This author is remarkable and I wish these books had been out when I was a young adult. She’s got a real knack of writing for those who are 12 & up.
The books also had a sobering effect on me; this one solidified my belief that I would not be one of the survivors, given my level of internal strength and especially considering that I’d be lacking extra support from the outside that these characters had. It’s a very thought provoking read. And even though I knew her formula somewhat from reading the other book, the suspense was enormous.
I wavered between 2 and 3 stars. But I am a sucka so 3 stars it is.
In case you fail to get the wrong idea from reading this review, I have enjoyed reading this series and thinking about the series.
Flannery stated it perfectly here,and here, these books are like crack! Or super greasy but yummy food that I can’t stop eating even though I have a lot of problems with them. There are huge holes in this book, that I could just not ignore. I do recommend reading the first book and continuing on with the series. And I plan to read the third book.
This book seemed to be filler and not nearly as well developed as the first book. The story does not stand on its own; despite that it centers on different characters than the first novel, the Dead and the Gone provides few background and details to support the story. There is simply a lack of information and details as to what is happening in the world and really, what is happening with the characters in this story. Because I had the first book as a point of reference, the actions of the characters in this book made sense; but only because of the first book. There are some substantive things that happened, but with no lead off and no development, so sometimes the actions do not make sense. In other parts of the book, something interesting is about to happen and then the storyline is cut off in the middle of the action, as if the author just stopped writing the scene. It is frustrating. Ms. Pfeffer simply failed to fully develop this story.
The cultural references are heavy handed and just off. They seemed clearly written from an outsider who is not part of the community she is attempting to write about, i.e. based on stereotype not reality. For example the constant use of catholic religious faith, constantly (how many times do modern teenagers think about praying? or actually want to go to mass when their parents are not present), the brother’s assumption of a patriarchal role in caring for his sisters, demanding obedience and submission (e.g. ordering them to the bedroom, telling them to clean the apartment and they just accept all of it, why because they are Latina? Is this what Pfeffer thinks latino families are like? Well, she is wrong.), HITTING his sister, keeping his sisters in the dark about decisions he makes concerning them (every single decision he makes he keeps from them) – including sending his sister away to a convent and going to look at dead bodies to determine if his mother’s body was among them! I appreciate the author’s attempt to write about a latino urban family, similar to writing about a rural family in the first book; I also appreciate that in both books the author incorporates cultural realities into both books. However, it seems to me the author did not do it well in this book and what we read was Pfeffer’s stereotype of what a Puerto Rican family was like.
As mentioned above, the author uses religious references and catholic references to depict the family that is the center of this book. This theme is overly used by Pfeffer. Every thought, every action, every choice and every challenge seems to be expressed in terms of what the Church would want Alex to do or inspires an invocation to a saint. For example, something bad happens and Alex thinks (paraphrasing) “They would be okay. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, they would be okay.” Now, multiple that thought by every single page in the book and you get the idea. Now add constant ruminations about action v. catholic dogma and prayers to saints and also multiply that by the number of pages in the book. Include all of it. I was raised catholic and I thought this theme was over done. However, to be fair there is some character development. At the beginning of the story, Alex is meek and completely submitting to authority even when the authority is unfair and abusive. Often this authority is governmental or priests and teachers. Yet, toward the middle of the story Alex begins to push back when it is necessary and is no longer simply content to accept what is dished out to him. Despite his moral misgivings, Alex begins to undertake questionable activity to support his family. Thus, Alex’s overbearing and controlling personality and his dependence on Catholic dogma serve as points of character for Alex at the beginning of the story and we see Alex, slowly, progressing as a person and becoming less rigid, less controlling and more flexible in his belief system. So I do get what Ms. Pfeffer was doing, I just do not think it was done well. She definitely should have lightened up and readers would have gotten it; I usually do not need to be hit over the head with themes in books to understand them.
There are some huge plot holes discussed in Flannery’s review that I linked to above, so I won’t rehash them here. I agree completely, sorry I guess I will rehash
What was done well is the range of emotions Alex feels and goes through during the crisis – he is worried and desperate in the beginning. Sad and depressed as the story progressed; then he becomes angry and feels a strong desire to escape the company of his sisters while he also knows he has to remain and protect them. Ms. Pfeffer wrote this same dynamic very well in The World as We Knew It. The book addresses issues of the haves and have nots and disenfranchisement well. The book imagines a post-apocalyptic world where there are some services, but only the rich and the powerful have access to these services; the poor or the less well to do suffer and die among rotting corpses. We see Alex’s bitterness, angry and sadness that while he and his sisters are dying of starvation and exposure, the powerful are living relatively comfortable and sheltered lives.
I listened to the audio version and it is just okay to bad. An older mature man with a very deep voice reads it and just doesn’t come across as a junior in high school; when he reads the parts of Alex’s sisters it is done in a way that makes him sound like he is mocking a female voice. So .. I would recommend reading this one rather than listening to it. This book has a different narrator than the first book.
The Dead and the Gone pretty much sums up this entire book. Everyone in NYC is either dead, gone or soon will be. Asteroid hits moon, earth goes through nasty changes, everyone dies, the end. But wait, you ask… what of the hard core survivalists? I’m sure they are out there somewhere, but they are certainly not in Susan Beth Pfeffer’s second book of her Last Survivors series. This is a shame, because this YA novel started off so good.
In The Dead and the Gone we follow the story of Alex Morales, a Puerto Rican teenager living in NYC. Although it will take you awhile to figure this out, everything you need to know about this kid can be learned from his last name. Morales: "Son of Moral," a given name meaning "right and proper." (per some random website about genealogy and surnames. What, internet research isn’t real research? =)) Anyway…. This kid has morals. And the strength of the Catholic Church. And a whole lot of problems that could have been avoided if only he wasn’t so stupid opposed to looting breaking and entering.
At some point while reading this book, I glanced at the back and noticed a blurb that said, “for ages twelve and up” and really, that is the real problem here. Pfeffer is writing for a very young audience, not the current older teen/young adult audience that is often aimed at these days. For all of the complex issues and situations presented in The Dead and the Gone, tough conversations are completed neatly and quickly, difficult situations are easily gotten out of, angsty things are not angstly dwelled upon. Rather than an age suggestion, this book sould have been given an “Apocalypse PG13” warning.
The first book in this series, Life As We Knew It was, despite its flaws, fantastic. So, I raised the bar a little for this one because the second should always be better than the first, right? Unfortunately, it wasn’t. It was just more of the same. Asteroid, starvation, flu so strong it causes delusions. Been there, done that. What makes this one worse is that Alex is presented as a poor kid who has to make his own fate in order to be successful. But he makes a lot of idiotic decisions and passes up fantastic opportunities because of pride and Catholicism. I’m a sucker, so I’ll read the third and final installment of this series. But I don’t recommend these books for adult readers of YA, unless of course you are looking for some serious fluffy brain candy ;)
Update 12/11/11 Having read, and been severely disappointed by author Susan Beth Pfeffer's Blood Wounds, I actually will not be continuing this series. I have learned that while this author is great at creating fucked up situations, her character development is nil. I'm moving on.
So I think I read a different book than all the other reviewers on here, because I was eternally irritated and pissed off at our protagonist. Alex is misogynistic, a bully to his sisters, and a little bit of an idiot despite supposedly being one of the best in his class.
Who doesn’t know how to boil water!?
He has a problem using keys to get into abandoned apartments and going into his parents room, but no qualms about going through dead bodies’ pockets?
He refuses to communicate with his sisters and let them know what’s going on, then hits them when they question him? Fuck you, guy.
Father Mulroney was an idiot. “Yes kids, please study Latin while you starve.”
Suffice to say at this point that I did not like it and all the characters annoyed me.
More like 4,5* but closer to 4. I felt like something was missing. Maybe because is the sequel many things were just thrown in there. Overall I really liked it but it was one of the saddest books I've read. The characters all have to grow up so fast and this time there wasn't a mother to tell them what to do and do all the planning. But they survived. And New York ... I love this city and I knew exactly where all the streets from the book are. It was kinda weird to see this city in position like that. An as always I was holding on to the thought that there will be still hope in the end. That's what those books are about. :)
Je-zus was that ever depressing. Very, very good, very realistic, but... ugh. Makes me want to self soothe with ice cream.
I loved Life As We Knew It. It was probably the most authentic post-apocalyptic book I've ever read. Now I've finally gotten around to The Dead and the Gone, which looks at the same event but set in the heart of NYC instead of some middle-American suburb. This time the MC is Alex, a high schooler with two younger sisters. The moment a massive meteor strikes the moon, his mom was on the subway going to her shift at the hospital. His dad is in Puerto Rico for his grandmother's funeral, and his older brother Carlos is deployed to parts unknown. Just like LAWKI, this book covers the first six months after the disaster, and it's a sad, disturbing tale of what happens to these pious siblings surviving alone in the heart of the city.
If I have one nit, it's that the book didn't go quite hard enough into how horrible other people would really be in this scenario. Don't misinterpret that to mean it sugarcoats human behaviour - it doesn't. Survivors are forced to take difficult, horrifying actions, and there are a couple of instances where other people attack or try to take advantage of the Morales kids. But I still think a little more ruthlessness a la The Walking Dead was in order. Alas. Still difficult to get through at times, and amazingly good.
Tja, offenes Ende, schade. Trotzdem fand ich die Stimmung der Endzeit gut transportiert. Ich weiß nicht, ob ich die Reihe noch weiterlese, obwohl mich interessiert, wie alles zusammen läuft und ob es mit der Menschheit weitergeht. Mal sehen.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
⇢ NOT REALLY A CONTINUATION OF BOOK #1 ⇢ SAME DISASTER --DIFFERENT LOCATION & CHARACTERS ⇢ RELIGION PLAYS A BIG PART ⇢ VIOLENCE IS PLAYED DOWN ⇢ MIDDLE-GRADE TO YA
If you think most apocalyptic YA books are too violent, then this is the series for you. These books are even okay for the younger set. Especially, if you like religion or religious characters in your books. For me, personally, this is too glossed over, too religious and overall not very realistic. I wasn't even going to listen to this because of these factors...but I decided on a whim (reading challenge) to listen to it, anyway. The narration by Robertson Dean was really good, but he didn't sound like a 17-year-old kid to me. I feel like I enjoyed the story more because of his narration, though.
As far as the story goes, this book focuses on the same events from Book One, but from the POV of Alex, he is Puerto Rican and very Catholic. He and his two sisters are left without both their Mom and Dad after the asteroid hits the moon (such a scary premise...I wonder if it is something that could ever happen...hopefully, not). They live in New York City, and he struggles to care for his sisters and keep them fed and warm in the wake of the apocalyptic events. While I would have liked a little less religion, it was actually inspiring the way the church took care of them the way they did. Overall, a decent story, just not all that realistic.
AUDIO PERFORMED BY⇢ ROBERTSON DEAN NARRATION RATING⇢ 4.5/5 BOOK COVER⇢ I LOVE THE COVERS FOR ALL THE BOOKS IN THIS SERIES SETTING⇢ NEW YORK CITY SOURCE⇢ I RECEIVED AN ARC VIA NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW OR LIBBY AUDIOBOOK (LIBRARY) AUDIOBOOK LENGTH⇢ 8 HOURS, 51 MINUTES
Ugh, this should have been a DNF, but I didn't want to skip this and go onto #3 in the series just in case there was some context I missed out on, or characters from this book that show up later. But god, it was awful. The third person POV just didn't work -- there was literally NO EMOTION the whole way through -- and the storyline (asteroid hits the moon, world thrown into chaos) was pretty much identical to Life As We Knew It. What was the point of going from the beginning again? As a reader, I already knew what was coming, but for some reason Alex was ridiculously uninformed. Random characters kept popping up to say things like "Have you heard about the tsunamis/volcanoes/epidemics/etc?" WHY YES, I BELIEVE I READ ABOUT THAT IN BOOK #1.
Also, Alex is possibly THE MOST chauvinistic character I've come across. I kept thinking how much he didn't deserve to live. He thinks it's perfectly okay to hit his younger sisters, because he's the man of the house now! And that's how he's going to keep them in line!
At one point Alex throws a paddy because his shirts are dirty. Yep, in a post-apocalyptic world he worries about looking nice. So he whines to Julie that she should do a better job washing them (without electricity, and oh by the way she is TWELVE YEARS OLD) and when she says, um hey I have an idea wash your own freaking shirts he grabs her and threatens to withhold food from her. What a great brother!
And later, when Julie is all "you do realise I do all the cooking and cleaning, right?" Alex's chivalrous response is "but I thought you liked cooking and cleaning, and how hard is it anyway?" UM DID YOU MISS THE BIT WHERE THERE IS NO ELECTRICITY? IT IS HARD, OKAY.
There's a great line near the end when Alex thinks about "how often he'd felt burdened by his sisters." Oh, you mean the sisters who do your laundry, your cooking, and your cleaning -- those sisters? What a burden they've been! ARGHHHH.
At first I was disappointed that the characters in book 1 weren't continuing with their story in book 2, this book. But very quickly once I'd began, I got into the story and enjoyed it.
This one is even more heartbreaking than the first. By the end, I felt torn up inside from all the emotions. These books are so deep in human suffering and sacrifice, that it can get hard to read at times. But then there is the strength and courage of the characters that keep you going. No matter how hard it all feels.
I'm crossing my fingers that book 3 isn't even deeper because I feel like my emotions are borderline breaking. So far, these two books have really taken a lot out of me. Maybe because it's because of my own life struggles that I could feel these characters on such a personal level.
I gotta say though, that any author who can deliver such a story needs to be honoured.
The Dead and the Gone has not made it up to my expectations especially after lovingLife As We Knew It. I'll talk more about the problems that I found in the book rather than the ones I liked (which were fewer actually)
Alex Morales is a seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican New Yorker whose parents disappear in the aftermath of the tidal waves, must must now care for his two younger sisters, Julie and Brianna even when hope seems all gone.
The novel explores on how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities. Do I agree with that? Yes and No. Well, first of all Alex is not really going to be your ideal elder brother, I'm sorry but that's what I think. Why? The most important of them all of that he doesn't treat his sister equally. He prefers Brianna over Julie, though I understand why. Julie really is annoying. But c'mon, it's nearly the end of the world and he still has to choose favorites. I just feel that if he had to choose whom to save of course he'd prefer one over the other, right? And it's just really pissing me off. Being the eldest can be such a responsibility in times like this especially but show your sisters that can look up to you and really trust that you won't let anything happen to them. But that's not what I see. I have an elder brother too though I'm the middle child and the only girl, my brother treats me and my younger brother equally so not complaints.
Another factor is that the love-hate relationship between Alex and Julie. First he'll shout at her then he'll say sorry, then he'll hurt her then say sorry then she'll get mad at him then she'll say she's sorry and the cycle goes on you know. And it's just really annoying because I know in times like this you really feel like you're going to give up and two sisters depending on you true but like a said, a responsible brother would know how to act besides they're all in this together, that's why he has a sister all his burden he can share it with them he doesn't have to carry it alone now will he?
I just feel that there is really no hope in this book, it's more devastating and desperate than the first book. And that idea of body shopping, I don't think that in that actual situation that's really gonna happen, people are desperate for food they won't just give it away. Money is not a problem here anymore. It's just food, shelter, medicine and survival.
I just really can't connect with the characters. At all. The beginning is fine then it just dropped because of the characters not the plot entirely. Brianna's annoying, Julie's annoying and Alex's annoying. And all the other characters as well. Nothing really much to like about now is there?
And I don't like the third person narrative here, I guess it would've been easier to connect with Alex's character if it was first person narrative. And Julie and Brianna's name doesn't match with the Alex, Luis, Carlos and Isabelle's name which seems more Puerto Rican.
Alex, Luis and Carlos. Wow. Reminds me of the Funetes brothers much, from Perfect Chemistry well, I realized how much I miss them!
Anyway, The Dead and the Gone really is dead. There's almost no happy moments really. It's too depressing and despair is all in the book. Three stars really because it's not really that bad, depressing and all I can take that, the plot's fine it's really just the characters really.
And comparing it to other books that I've rated three stars, they're pretty much on the same track.