Life As We Knew It
Can Miranda and Her Family Survive the Disaster?
Teenager Miranda tells the story via diary entries of what happens when an asteroid hits the moon, shoving it closer to Earth. It is a disaster with drastic consequences: changes in the ocean tides result in tsunamis that kill multitudes of people and eliminate cities. Previously inactive volcanoes erupt; the ash blocks the sun and destroys air quality. Earthquakes are unleashed, worldwide. The weather changes, with freezing temperatures in August.
Miranda changes from a girl who worries about school, grades, and swim team performance to one who must struggle to survive as options narrow. The lack of sunshine means crops can't be grown. Can they survive on the food they've squirreled away? Can Miranda live on one meal a day . . .or less?
Electricity is a pleasure of the past, and heating oil is no longer available. Will the family freeze before they starve? Will the violence in town reach them, now that there is no law enforcement? And what has become of Miranda's dad and his pregnant second wife? Little do Miranda and her family know that their troubles are just beginning.
LIFE AS WE KNEW IT is a gripping tale. It is a terrifying story made even scarier not only because natural disasters are so often in the news but because the reader feels she knows Miranda and her family. The author does not strike one false note in this book as Miranda evolves and matures through life's challenges. And, although some of the details are grim, Miranda and the reader are uplifted by a realistically small yet true hopefulness.
LIFE AS WE KNEW IT is a true page-turner that's nearly impossible to put down. I give it my highest recommendation.
16-year-old Miranda is our main character, and it's through her eyes we're shown the before and after impressions of her world through the exclusive use of diary entries. Miranda isn't entirely off-putting as a character. She's a fairly typical self-concerned teenager with a semi-obsessive interest in figure skating but an otherwise steady, level-headed personality--seemingly unaffected by the recent death of one of her three best friends. Her two remaining friends, on the other hand, have lurched to opposite sides of the coping spectrum—one turning hyper-religious, while the other turns to boy-hopping. And then THE END comes in the form of a moon-moving asteroid collision.
The diary style was an admirably brave experiment, but it just didn't do it for me. The almost total lack of description made it more difficult to stay invested the world. I understand some think of this as a way to give the reader more freedom to imagine setting and character physical appearances however they'd like, but I don't seem to do well without a few visual hints. By the end, the only character I could actually picture in my mind was Miranda's mother--who I decided must look like a perpetually agitated Sally Field. Which is vaguely related to my next point...
On the whole, the insertions of political leanings felt artificial and intrusive. There were repeated references to Miranda's mother hating the “idiot” President, “almost as much as she hates Fox News.” Add to that the mention that said idiot sitting President (view spoiler) Of course, by the end of this first book in the series, there doesn't seem to be any sign of the obvious opposing political party swooping in and saving the day or otherwise lobbing the moon back into place. So there's that, at least...
The prose itself is clean and competent—well edited and not at all painful in flow. But I had the sense that Miranda's inner voice wavered back and forth from uncharacteristically mature to immature and back again—with less overall emotional growth than I would have hoped for given the extreme circumstances. It also seemed like the middle of the story sagged heavily, with never-again seen side characters and more tedium than tension. (There's no real potential concern for Miranda herself, as one is ever aware that she is writing these journal entries--and so logically she must still be alive and functional in order to do so.) I truly felt the plot could have been better served by mixing the diary aspect with some measure of 3rd person narrative.
While some have praised the realism of this post-apocalyptic scenario, I personally found it a bit difficult to swallow. (Although I'll admit my training as a first-responder, and experiencing the aftermath of both hurricanes and a tornadic incident that decimated the infrastructure of nearly half of the state I live in, has etched in me a unique perspective on what it's like to suddenly go from a 1st to 3rd world country.) The people who I've seen rise to the occasion in the most perilous of times weren't who I saw represented in this particular tale. In the final analysis, I suppose this reader has simply come to expect a different experience out of this sub-genre.
Interesting book, but ending leaves me with too many questions. One of the best post-apocalyptic tale I've read in awhile though.
This book makes you think about your own life and how just one little thing can happen and then you never know it could turn out like this book where the world (miranda and her family)are struggling to hang on just all because an asteroid hits the moon.
Many twists and turns in this book and I know for sure that anyone who reads this book will want to read on and on and on. Yes, it has flaws but, it is good.
To sum it all up I personally like this, and I highly recommend. When I think about it though, this is most likely not the type of book everyone is interested in, but give it a chance.
Thoughtful and mostly feasible post-apocalyptic tale
I was totally captivated by this book. Everything that Miranda's family went through seemed feasible in our current world, and I found myself wondering how my family would cope in a similar situation. It was chilling and frightening, because her family doesn't react to their new circumstances like heroes in a story; they react like a regular family.
Miranda was an excellent narrator. Somehow, Susan Beth Pfeffer was able to really crawl inside the mind of a 16-year-old girl. She had the invincibility syndrome that so many teenagers have, convincing herself time and time again that nothing was going to change, that everything would soon return to normal, that things couldn't possibly get any worse. I found myself infuriated with her when she argued against her mother's rationing of their food, or her brother's stockpiling of firewood. I groaned inwardly every time she mentioned that she couldn't imagine how things could get worse, since obviously, they could. But she reacted the way I expect many teenagers would react -- she resisted the magnitude of the situation, and opted instead to focus on whether or not there would still be a prom, or how her favorite figure skater was doing. But my frustrations with her character are actually a testament to the strength of the writing -- I believed I was listening to a 16-year-old.
On the flip side, I loved Miranda's mother. She was level-headed, forward-thinking, and did a marvelous job of looking out for her family. Yes, she made mistakes, had her moments of selfishness, and there were occasions where Miranda's conflicts with her were perfectly justified. But no matter how bad things got, Miranda's mother continued to display the kind of sacrifice and perseverance that I feel exemplifies a parent's love for her child.
I also enjoyed the development of Miranda's brothers, Jonny and Matt, and their neighbor, Mrs. Nesbitt. I came away from the book feeling like I really knew and understood these characters.
As for the progression of the story itself, I found it mostly believable. Miranda's family found themselves situated in the best possible scenario in the case of global disaster: their house had oil heat, a gas stove, a wood-burning stove in a separate room, and well water. Convenient, yes, but not unrealistic -- these houses do exist, after all. There were parts of the story I found far-fetched, such as being able to immediately hop onto the Internet and surf fan sites every time the electricity turned back on for 10 minutes, but those irritations were minor in the grand scheme of things. There was also a bit of propaganda the author wove into the story that I thought felt a bit awkward and out of place, but again, it didn't really lessen my enjoyment of the overall tale.
The way the world slowly crumbled around Miranda and her family seemed disturbingly accurate. Humanity didn't simply plunge into chaos; it descended in increments. Businesses stayed open. Currency still held value. Schools held classes. It was only as the weeks and months progressed that the direness of their situation is truly revealed. I found myself holding my breath as I wondered what could possibly happen next.
Overall, I found this to be a sad yet hopeful look at family, society, and friendship. It was a story of strength, survival and triumph, but also loss and regret. The story progressed in a quiet manner, with very little action or fanfare, and was more pensive than nail-biting. Its strengths were the characters, the relationships, and the incredibly well though-out progression from life as we know it to the world that Miranda's family unwillingly finds themselves in.
Note: While this book does have two sequels, The Dead and the Gone and This World We Live In, I felt the ending was satisfying enough for this to have been a standalone novel. I do intend on reading the sequels, but if they didn't exist, I still would have been satisfied.
Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors #1)
Life as we Know centers around the life of a family after a catastrophe ,as told by the 16 year old narrator Miranda, in diary format. After a worldwide catasptrophe, Miranda and her family must learn to survive in a drastically changed world. Gas prices rise, food is scare, family and friends are dead.With everything changing around them Miranda and her family struggle to stay together.
The main protagonist matures nicely in the book from a slightly pampered sixteen year old to more mature and decisive character.Miranda intially pines for the creature comforts lost but eventually realizes that they are all in a struggle for survival. Life as We Knew It Is not just a look at how things change after catatsrophe but, also a look at how people change.Life As We Knew It is the first book in the last survivor's series.
This book is a perfect book for readers that like post-apocalyptical reads with great writing, the main character will also be very relateable to many readers.
Age group: 13 and up
Content: a refernce to somone letting her teenage daughter go off with a grown man, a reference to a charcter committing suicide, references to several people dying in disasters, some characters consume wine at a dinner, also a reference to teenage pregnancy.
Exciting and terrifying
Reader reviewed by GBC
Life As We Knew It is a great book for teens who are looking for a book with a post-apocalyptic feel, but without a terrorist attack or world war. There are plenty of deaths, and people do act a bit crazy, but this book provides a great view of what life could be like if life as we knew it changed drastically. After the moon gets knocked out of orbit, and disaster ensues, Miranda steps up and finds a way to survive and help her family, both growing up and learning a lot about herself. The book prompts all kinds of discussion, especially begging the question: "What would you do?". This is a fantastic end-of-the-world type story for middle school and up!
quick but highly recommended
Reader reviewed by Books N' Cooks Life As We Knew It was the latest book for our little book club. A young adult book, once I started reading it, I couldnt put it down. This book was about the life of a 16-year old girl and her family living in Pennsylvania after a meteor hits the moon and knocks it out of orbit. This spurs off a series of natural disasters tsunamis, storms, droughts, blizzards, effecting the lives of everyone. Ordinary life shifts rapidly to a life with spotty or no electricity, little to no news about the present circumstances or predictions for the future, and limited food supplies (whatever you have stocked up on). The family struggles to cope with these challenges and prepare for an uncertain future, sacrificing so much for each other. This book really makes you realize just how quickly things can change, and how we should remind ourselves how lucky we are. There are so many things most people today take for granted a never-ending supply of food and gas; electricity; heat and air conditioning; telephones; etc. Life As We Knew It takes away all of these things, and reminds us of what is important family. I found Life As We Knew It to be a quick read but highly recommended.
Life As We Knew It was the latest book for our little book club. A young adult book, once I started reading it, I couldnt put it down.
This book was about the life of a 16-year old girl and her family living in Pennsylvania after a meteor hits the moon and knocks it out of orbit. This spurs off a series of natural disasters tsunamis, storms, droughts, blizzards, effecting the lives of everyone. Ordinary life shifts rapidly to a life with spotty or no electricity, little to no news about the present circumstances or predictions for the future, and limited food supplies (whatever you have stocked up on). The family struggles to cope with these challenges and prepare for an uncertain future, sacrificing so much for each other.
This book really makes you realize just how quickly things can change, and how we should remind ourselves how lucky we are. There are so many things most people today take for granted a never-ending supply of food and gas; electricity; heat and air conditioning; telephones; etc. Life As We Knew It takes away all of these things, and reminds us of what is important family.
I found Life As We Knew It to be a quick read but highly recommended.
Reader reviewed by Jenna
Like As We Knew It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time!!
The disasters in the book are great and creative, I mean a meteor hitting the moon dead center and knocking it out of orbit creating tidal waves covering most of the continent, volcanoes exploding so often because of the moons gravity pull that the ash is starting to cover the sun, they're getting blizzards in August, Imagine that for a summer!!
Reader reviewed by Amy Ward
What an amazing book! And heart-pounding! And sad! And terrifying! And disturbing! I could go on and on but I think you get the picture! Life as we Knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer tells the horrifying story of Miranda and her family after a meteor knocks the moon closer to earth. The horror is unimaginable. It was very difficult to read this book. At times I would be crying and other times I would be so hopeful. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I had to force myself to put the book down even though I didn't want to. I actually had a few bad dreams because of this book. But don't let that put you off. It was an amazing story. Miranda and her family go through ordeals that I wouldn't wish on anyone! The best thing about the book is how they are able to hope and try to live life in the midst of chaos! The ending had me on the edge of my seat! Find out what happens for yourself!
Life As We Knew It
Reader reviewed by BooksObsession
This apocalyptic novel was fantastic and thought-provoking! Based on the "end-of-the-world" concept, this book gave a whole new meaning to family and survival. I liked how it was written in the form of diary entries. It kept my attention, and made me eager to read the sequel. I really enjoyed this book, and definitely recommend it to other readers.
Life As We Knew It
Reader reviewed by JulieA.
Life as we knew it is a great book about life on earth suddenly and dramatically changing told through the eyes of a teenager. A comet that is supposed to creat an amazing light show in the night sky shockingly collides with the earth's moon pushing it dangerously close to the earth. Gravity is disturbed, so tides change. Immediately Cape Cod and Manhattan are submerged. How would you respond to such a catastrophe. This book is exciting, suspenseful, scary and even a little romantic. A must read!