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The idea behind this blog is to share my opinions about Post-Apocalyptic Literature, Films and Ephemera as well as my random nattering on a regular basis.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Two Part Calamity

Life As We Knew It

This is the story of Miranda. She's an ordinary high school girl. Like many girls she keeps a journal. This book reads as her journal. All is great with her world until an asteroid is predicted to hit the moon. She is not worried about it though. In fact she is, at first, irritated by it. Her teachers use the looming disaster as an excuse to pile on the homework with not one, not two, but three essays about the moon.

May 18th... it happens. The moon is hit. Miranda and her family are outside reveling in the street in a party-like atmosphere. All is fun and games. The asteroid hits the moon so hard that its orbit moves much closer to the Earth. When the partiers notice this panic sets in. Now we all know the moon's gravity is what causes tides. So the first sign that all is not right is when coastal areas get flooded. After the flooding there are massive storms and earthquakes. Just when you think they can finally settle in for simple survival, volcanoes begin erupting bringing on an ice age.

I enjoyed this book and in fact it kept me up late at night just so I could finish it in a single setting. I just have a couple problems with it though. First off Miranda and her family were given too soft a ride. I imagine had it happened for real there would have been a bit more fighting for the necessities of life. They didn't even have to fight a single one of their neighbors off for food shelter or means to stay warm. (They had wood and heating oil even though most of the people near them didn't). Second, no mention of people resorting to cannibalism. This is a staple of nearly every PA book out there. Still a fantastic book.

In every book I read there is the one scene that stands out. For me in this book it is when Miranda takes some time for herself and goes skating at the pond. In her mind she is at the Olympics and winning more medals than anyone in history. This simple little scene encases all of Miranda's character. She carries the absolute knowledge that she is a survivor with her not even knowing it. It is the ability to see past the struggle that is her now and to allow her dreams to become reality that keeps her alive. A great scene (even if I was on the edge of my figurative seat waiting for someone to jump out of the woods and put her innocent dreams to a very nasty end).

The Dead and The Gone

The Dead and The Gone is a stand alone story that compliments the events of Life As We Knew It. It has all the events spoken about in the first book but it is not a sequel rather it could work all on its own. This twin novel set could have even worked as a single book with switching viewpoints. The view of this version of apocalypse however is much darker and grim and a bit more real I think. It takes place in New York City and follows a young Puerto Rican named Alex. He is seventeen as the story begins and works at a pizza parlor. Alex is a student at a Catholic School. He has no idea the asteroid is going to hit the moon because he is busy with school, his job and his family so takes no special steps to ride out the disaster.

This story is darker grittier and just more fantastic than its twin. More death. More disorder. A great read.

Once again, for me, in every book there is the one scene that stands out the part that encapsulates the whole and stays with me long after I have read the 'About the Author' page. The part in this book that stood out is when Alex is at Yankee Stadium attempting to find his mom's corpse. The description of the screams and the smell and the flies really made the descent into hell real. It was also a turning point in the book. Alex's dreams are over and he begins to accept and cope with his mom's death as a concrete fact and not just an abstraction. Also ‘body shopping’.

** Update: Third Book is called 'This World We Live In'. It will be released next year. Different sites are already offering ARCs, including this one, The Book Butterfly. If you are a fan or would like to get a start reading give it a go. **

1 comment:

Ana S. said...

I know what you mean about the soft-ride. But I wonder if some of it has to do with the fact that we see things from Miranda's perspective, and her mother and older brother shelter her from some of the worse news...which could include stories about cannibalism. I'm very much looking forward to The Dead and the Gone.