Friday, May 23, 2008

Life As We Knew It

*Life As We Knew It* by Susan Beth Pfeffer is one of our summer reads for incoming freshman. I thought that I'd better read it in order to be prepared to talk about it next year, and I also wanted to try it because Mrs. Fritz loved it! Its premise is fascinating: Miranda, a teenage girl with the typical joys and frustrations of a high school student, is only vaguely interested in the upcoming lunar event she's been hearing so much about. However, when she and her family gather to witness an asteroid crashing into the moon, her life is changed forever because the asteroid knocks the moon out of position and pushes it closer to Earth. This causes geologic and weather-related catastrophes of global proportions: tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, and eventually drastic temperature changes. In the first few days after the event, Miranda and her family stockpile food, water, medicine, and other basic necessities in case things take a turn for the worse. It's a good thing they had the foresight to prepare, as life quickly devolves into a constant battle for survival.
I liked this book a lot for its realistic take on the aftermath of even seemingly insignificant global changes. It is timely as we witness the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the cyclone in Myanmar, the tsunami in Southeast Asia, and other catastrophic geologic events around the world.
The only thing I did not like about the book is its unrealistically negative portrayal of two Christian characters (one of Miranda's friends and a pastor). It seems almost like the author has a personal problem with religion and uses her book as a platform for her views. She also makes several barely-veiled vitriolic remarks about the current president: an "idiot" who hides away at his Texas ranch. Hmm, now to whom could she be referring?
Apart from these weaknesses, I enjoyed the book and its realistic imagining of life post-apocalypse. 3 out of 4 bananas.
Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award 2010 Nominee

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