Thursday, October 9, 2008

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Main character: Miranda
Location: Rural Pennsylvania
Time period: Contemporary (or possibly near future)
Genre: YA Fiction, Survival, Dystopian, Speculative Fiction

This is one of the books that I included on my dystopian fiction booklist recently. I had read some interesting things about it but hadn't had the chance to actually read the book before now.

Miranda is a typical high school student who lives outside a small town in Pennsylvania. Like everyone else, she has heard the scientists talk about the asteroid that's about to strike the moon. It's expected to make a neat show but that's about it. On the predicted night, everyone is outside; the mood is festive. The asteroid hits and everyone immediately knows that something wrong has happened. The moon suddenly appears larger. It turns out that the asteroid has knocked the moon out of orbit; it is now closer to the Earth and the increased gravitation pull has caused extremely high tides, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Major cities are destroyed, communications are down, the country's infrastructure is disrupted. Food and gas become scarce, electricity is sporadic.

The story is told through Miranda's diary entries as she struggles to cope with her new life. School is canceled and daily life becomes only about survival. One of her close friends slowly starves herself to death. Another leaves town searching for better conditions to the south. A bittersweet first romance ends when Dan leaves town to try to make it to California. As winter closes in, Miranda's world contracts to just her house and then to just the one room they can still heat in their house. Fortunately, spring brings its promise of re-birth and renewal, or this book would just be too sad to bear.

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