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Title: The Dead and The Gone

Writer: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publisher: Graphia (2008)

Pages: 319 p

Bought at: Kramerbooks & Afterwords – Washington, DC (USD 7,99)

After reading the terrifying story from Miranda’s journal in Life As We Knew It, in the second installment of the series, we were taken to New York City, looking at the effects of this disaster from another point of view. Alex Morales was a high school student – with scholarship and bright future- living in an apartment in NYC. His dad was a superintendent for the apartment (that’s why they could live in the building), and his mom worked in a hospital. Carlos, Alex’s older brother joined the marine some time ago, so Alex now only lived with his sisters: Brianna, the devoted catholic girl and Julie, who was a bit of a rebel.

When the moon hit by asteroid, Alex’s dad was in Puerto Rico for family visit, and his mom was working in the hospital. Alex couldn’t reach them and heard nothing from them, he didn’t know if they’re actually still alive. Alex didn’t have many choices, he had to take care of his sisters, and being responsible on their safety.

In the crazy situation that followed the disaster : chaos in the city, no electricity, ashes in the air, and no food – Alex had to make every decision carefully for his sisters. Should he send Brianna to the convent north of the town, suggested by their priest in church? Should he keep looking for his mom’s body in the Yankee Stadium, or keep on hoping that she’s still alive? And how to deal with Julie, the teenage rebel in their family, so she can obey him all the time?

The Dead and The Gone was not as tense as its predecessor, Life As We Knew It. Probably because the element of surprise was already gone, or maybe because the setting of this book, in a big city like New York, the tragedy didn’t hit as hard as in a small town in Pennsylvania. The communication line and electricity were still there even though they’re not as reliable as used to be. And there’s still food delivery from government – not to mention the black market.

But the situation was still rough – bodies were everywhere, even Alex had to learn to go “body shopping” – taking every valuable things from a body to be sold to the black market. The survival skills needed in NYC were quite different than the ones needed in Pennsylvania.

Somehow, the characters in this book were not as likable as the ones in previous book. Sure, the Latino-Catholic background was quite interesting, and having a guy as a main character is a nice change. But still, this book is lack of something. Something that can make you connect with the characters, feeling worry and sad for them.

Anyway, that’s a risk of writing (and reading) a series, right? You will always compare. Let’s see how I feel about the final installment!