This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

February 9, 2010

Ok so one of the other librarians got an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of the new Susan Beth Pfeffer book, This World We Live In, and I borrowed it so I could read it. I read Life as We Knew It not long after it came out, and there are scenes and moments of the book that (years later) still stick in my head very vividly. I admit I did not read The Dead and the Gone, primarily because a few other librarians did not like it as much as Life as We Knew It. This World We Live In comes back to focus on Miranda, which was why I decided I would read it.

The book opens in late April; not much of the world has changed since we last saw Miranda, the moon is still too close to the earth and the weather is out of whack. Miranda still has her mom, her older brother Matt, and younger brother Jon. They have all managed to survive the winter and food is even being delivered to them once a week. Life continues on in its new ordinary fashion.

The big change that occurs over most of the book is the additions to Miranda’s family. I’m a little worried about spoilers here, but some characters from The Dead and the Gone arrive (which pretty much gives it away, I’m sure), and now it’s a matter of figuring out how to feed so many people and the concerns of what happens after the food runs out. There is also discussion of leaving to find one of the so-called “safe cities”. Those of you who remember Miranda’s mom remember that she is kind of a stubborn person, so you can imagine how well that idea goes over.

It was a good story, and for not having read The Dead and the Gone I did not feel as if I really missed much, so if you haven’t read it that’s not a problem. It seemed as if the story did not advance much over the course of the book and the bulk of the action took place towards the end of the novel. I understand that the circumstances prevent much from really happening to the characters, but it seemed like the story was just passing time. This World We Live In is The Last Survivors, Book 3, and about half way through the book I was pretty certain I would not read any more of the books, should Pfeffer write them. However the way the book ended had me reconsider. So if there is a 4th Last Survivors book (and 5th and 6th …) I might pick it up to find out what happens next. It’s definitely an interesting concept, and Pfeffer has done a great job with the what-comes-next expectations readers have without the story going too far to be completely unrealistic (if one forgets about the whole moon being nudged closer to earth thing, but hey, it could happen). She addresses all the aspects of everyday life people don’t see in natural disaster movies; these stories are about endurance and finding some reason to keep living when life seems so gray (as Miranda would say).

To sum up: If you enjoyed the first two books (or even just one or the other), I recommend reading it. If the destruction of modern life is not your thing, I would pass. The book is not being published until April 1st, but you can place a hold on it through the library catalog.

-stephanie.

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