Posted by: Ms. Matson | June 25, 2010

This World We Live In

This World We Live In
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Boston: Hartcourt, 2010
Genre: Post-apocalyptic young adult fiction
Interest level: Age 12+
AR level: 4.2

This World We Live In is the sequel to Life As We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone, companion novels in which the moon is hit by an asteroid, changing its orbit and wreaking havoc on Earth’s climate and weather. The first novel describes how the disaster affects Miranda and her family in small-town Pennsylvania, and the second focuses on Alex and his family in New York City.
Summary from Amazon:

“It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans, life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.
The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.”

Having loved the first two books, I was looking forward to reading This World We Live In. However, I found it much less compelling. Miranda and Alex, as well as the other characters, both experienced tremendous growth as people in their individual stories, and their characters were fleshed out and well-rounded. I found them rather stagnant in This World. While it seemed to focus more on the character’s relationships rather than survival or events, This World We Live In had less character development. Miranda comes across as whiny and Alex is stubborn and cold.

The romance between the two felt completely contrived and misplaced. The initial development from their meeting was fine, but without really seeing any strong signs of interest, they’re suddenly kissing passionately and frequently and declaring their love for each other. I never really saw a compelling reason for them to be together, other than they were close in age, and, as Miranda put it, Alex was the “Last Living Boy in America.”

The new characters felt extraneous and unnecessary for the story.

I was not happy with the ending. [Spoilers ahead…..] Only one character from The Dead and the Gone survives, and none of the Pennsylvania family dies. This is a bit unbalanced. I know the author has said she enjoys writing about the trials and tribulations and only giving some hope at the end, but I really wanted some kind of resolution to the global problem. Is this a functional world? Because canned food only lasts for so long.

I highly recommend Life As We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone, but This World We Live In is skippable.

I’m counting this book toward the TwentyTen reading challenge under newly published in 2010.

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