Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: This World We Live In
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
ISBN: 9780547248042, Harcourt Children's Books, 2010
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian Fiction
Rating: C
Source: Amazon Vine

First Line: I'm shivering, and I can't tell if it's because something strange is going on or because of the dream I had or just because I'm in the kitchen, away from the warmth of the woodstove.

A year ago, an asteroid crashed into the moon, forcing it closer to Earth with catastrophic results. Teenager Miranda Evans is almost accustomed to friends and neighbors being dead, to food shortages, to the relentless gray skies and freezing temperatures.

The struggle to survive gets worse when Miranda's father, stepmother, their baby, and three strangers show up on the doorstep. One of the strangers is Alex Morales, the young boy in the dead & the gone, the second book in the trilogy by Pfeffer. Alex is going to cause some very profound changes, not only in Miranda's life, but in the lives of all the others struggling to survive in this nearly deserted town in Pennsylvania.

I loved the first book in the trilogy, Life As We Knew It. The scenario involving the asteroid crashing into the moon and forcing it closer to the earth captured my imagination. Miranda's voice rang true to me: typical whiny, self-absorbed teenager at the beginning, she matured before my eyes and really made me care about her and her family.

the dead & the gone I didn't care for as much, mostly because of Alex's insistence on being The Man of the Family who always knows best and who must be obeyed at all times. This reaction is undoubtedly personal, since I've never dealt well with anyone who's had that attitude.

In many ways, I wish Life As We Knew It had been a standalone, because I had no real emotional investment in this third book. I should've realized that Miranda and Alex would take a shine to each other-- especially in regards to their age, their hormonal state, and the scarcity of choice for them both-- but it would have been nice if they hadn't. It's as though the author painted herself into a romantic corner when she introduced Alex into the Pennsylvania cast of characters. Miranda and the choices she made were supposed to heighten emotion, but mine were deadened because they reminded me of books read in the past.

This book ends on a very ambiguous note, as if the series will continue. I really hope it doesn't. As it stands now, the trilogy began brilliantly... and became progressively weaker with each subsequent book. Will you be able to follow the action in This World We Live In if you haven't read the first two books? Yes, you should be able to, but you'll be missing the full range of the characters' motivations if you do.

My advice, regretfully given, is to read the first book and possibly the second, but to give this one a miss.


  1. I had to scroll down from you review because I am still waiting to get this book and read it. I loved Life As... and also liked the dead... and am looking so much forward to read this one. Will have a look at your review then.

  2. Cathy - Thanks for this reviw. Sorry to read that this one was a disappointment. I know exactly what you mean, too, about a book working better as a standalone than as a part of a series. I've raed books like that, too.

  3. I've seen so many rave reviews of this series and I've been wondering if it was for me. Your honest review has convinced me that it's probably not. Thanks!

  4. I have the first two books -- unread (yes, hard to believe that I have unread books in the house). Sorry that this wasn't a winner for you, but I do plan to read the trilogy anyway.

  5. Louise-- I hope you enjoy this book much much more than I did!

    Margot K-- Too many of us have a favorite book or movie and we're not content to leave further adventures to our imaginations. We demand more from the authors and film makers. Our demands should not always be met. That's what our imaginations are for!

    Kathy-- You're welcome, although I think you should read the first in the series!

    Beth-- And I hope you enjoy them all! :)

  6. Aw, darn. I liked the first, liked the second less, so I'll probably agree with you about the third. But I'm reading it anyway.

  7. I've been on the fence with this one wondering if I would start the series. After reading your review I think I'll be on the fence a while longer. It sounds intersting but with everything else out there I'm not sure I will make this series a priority. Thanks for the honest review.

  8. If your thoughts on the first and second books are any indication (we felt exactly the same way!), I probably won't like the third. Bummer!

  9. Jeanne-- I don't blame you... because the first was THAT good!

    Ryan-- You're welcome.

    Cori-- Yes, it is. I LOVED the first one!


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