Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralledd and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event–an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex’s parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
I read Life as We Knew It last year and really enjoyed it. The Dead and the Gone is a companion novel, rather than a sequel. It takes place at the same time as Life, but in New York.
The Dead and the Gone was an intense ride. New York was hit very hard when the moon moved closer to Earth – there were massive tidal waves and flooding in the subways. Alex find himself alone with his two sisters. His father is in Puerto Rico, his brother is in the marines and their mother working in Queens. As the months go on with no word from the other members of their family, Alex and his sisters struggle to keep themselves alive. Alex does anything he can to get food, but with sporadic electricity, the dead piling up in the streets, volcanic ash covering the sky and an early, harsh winter, things are incredibly difficult.
I was struck by the harsh reality that Susan Beth Pfeffer created in this novel. There’s death on a massive scale and rioting for food. New York slowly becomes a ghost town as everyone flees the island for safer areas inland, either by their own means or through evactions. As in Life, I was completely drawn in by Pfeffer’s writing and immediate action. There is no shortage of difficult times for Alex, Julie and Bri, but they have small pockets of joy and hope, too. I was crying by the end of the book, though. Pfeffer throws in a situation I was just not expecting, and it made The Dead so much more real and gritty than Life. There were a few instances I felt were quite convenient, and a bit hard to believe, but overall it was a great book.
A sequel to both Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone comes out this month. It will take place back with Miranda, but Alex makes his own appearance. I think it’s going to be quite a novel.