Writer: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publisher: Graphia (2006)
Pages: 337 p
Bought at: Kramerbooks & Afterwords – Washington, DC (USD 7,99)
Miranda Evans was an ordinary teenage girl living in a small town in Pennsylvania. She worried a lot about her grades in school, college plans, boys and dating, and she picked up swimming after she had an injury and couldn’t continue figure skating as her hobby. This summer, she’s looking forward to seeing her father who lived with her stepmom, Lisa, in Springfield.
But who knows? This summer was not like every other summer. Because everything changed. Big time.
It started when an asteroid hit the moon and made it moved outside the orbit, closer to the Earth. Suddenly, disasters happened all over the world. Flood, tsunamis, thunderstorm, and volcanoes, making the air full with ashes and even breathing became harder and harder everyday. The crops were dying because the sun didn’t even shine its light due to the ashes in the air. And the weather changed drastically – snowing in August and freezing before December.
The worst of it all was the food became scarce. And all the communication line was cut off, including electricity. Miranda never thought how lucky she was when she used to have all the things she needed: food, water, warm weather, electricity and internet, and took them for granted. The assurance that everything will be okay eventually.
Now, all of it were gone, replaced by fear, hunger, and not a single hope that the Earth will be back as it used to be. Not to mention the future existence of the mankind.
Written in the form of diary from Miranda’s point of view, Life As We Knew It was surprisingly real and believable, made me think a lot about things I took for granted, and how does it feel to lose all of it in a split second, facing an uncertain life and future, living in fear and waiting in vain for something good to happen. Miranda’s vivid details of her feelings, and her struggle to survive with her family, her protective mom, her older brother Matt and younger brother Jon, who suddenly looked very grown up because of all the grief they faced – it’s all been very convincing.
And the scary fact about hunger: how does it feel to know that one day there will be no food, even though you tried so hard to save all you have, eating as little as you could – when a can of chicken soup means one more day of survival… And the people were gone one by one, until one day Miranda was sure that they were the last living family on Earth.
Life As We Knew It is a terrible story about how the world could come to end without us being prepared for it. It’s very realistic, very logical, that I could feel the fear inside my bone. This book reminds me of the depressing feeling I had when reading The Road, only this time it was told from a teenager’s point of view. Miranda was a very good narrator, her story was so real and genuine, and I could relate much to her worries, fear and even her hunger. How she tried so much to grow up just like her brothers, but still had all the teenage baggage with her: arguing with her mom, self pitying herself, and even thinking about boy, about the prom she would never have. What made this book more real is the “waiting” factor. Miranda’s family was not affected directly with the disaster (there was no volcanoes or tsunamis inside this book), but they felt it in their every day’s lives – from the never ending hunger and the anxiety of hearing good news, and the loneliness.
I truly recommend this book for people who crave for good disaster/dystopian Young Adult novel – without too much romance in it. I can’t say the same about the next two book in this series (there will be separate reviews of them!), but still, this series is better than most of the current YA – dystopian – romance trend.