on 25 March 2010
Life as we knew it is the story of Miranda, 16, and her family. She lives with her mother and her brothers Jonny, 13, and Matt, 19, in a small town in Pennsylvania. The story is told in the form of a diary Miranda keeps. Miranda attends high school and loves skating. Her life is rather typical for a girl her age.
When she learns that an asteroid will collide with the moon, its only influence on her life is writing about the moon for homework. On the day of the event, everything changes. The moon is hit but the asteroid must have been denser than expected. The moon is pushed closer to the Earth. The result: Enormous tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, black outs and shortage in food supply. They lose contact with the outside world. Fortunately their mother was quick to do emergency shopping, so they have loads of canned food, but no new supplies arrive. They are fortunate to have a wood stove, and so a means to keep themselves warm as well as warming up their food.
Ash from the erupting volcanoes pollutes their air, making it hard to breathe. The ash also blocks out the sun, killing the plants and their vegetable garden. There is frost in August.
They have no idea where, when or if they can find new food supplies. They have no idea if their father and their grandmother are alive. People are leaving their small town, as rumour has it that there is plenty of food down south, but their mother thinks they should stay. There are lots of rumours and little real knowledge.
This is one of the best books I have read. The interaction between the family members is very realistic. They love each other dearly and make big sacrifices for each other, yet they bicker and fight, and rub each other the wrong way. Who can't identify with that?
The story is exciting; I had to keep reading to see how it all turned out in the end, and who would survive.
Several times while reading I actually had a lump in my throat. The very last sentence still resonates with me, that's why I do as well.
I highly recommend this book. Despite its YA target group it should be a hit among adults as well.
If you're looking for one of the best books of 2006, then look no further than Susan Beth Pfeffer's LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. A wonderful tale of family love, loss, and survival, this is one story that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page.
There have been lots of changes in sixteen-year-old Miranda's life recently. Her older brother, Matt, is away at college. Her mom is still adjusting to being a divorced parent. Her younger brother, Jonny, is obsessed with baseball. And her dad and his new wife, Lisa, are expecting a baby. Dealing with all of that has been quite stressful, but Miranda's been thinking about getting back into ice-skating, and she's spending plenty of time mooning over her current hero/crush, Olympic-hopeful Brandon Erlich, a hometown hero.
Miranda's also excited about the meteor that's headed towards the Moon. Some scientists predict a minor collision; teachers predict plenty of extra homework dealing with the subjects of both Moon and meteors. For Miranda and her family, and for millions of others around the world, it simply sounds like a cool event you'll get to watch from your front yard through a pair of binoculars.
What happens on that fateful night is something no one expected. The meteor does, in fact, collide with the Moon. However, the impact was stronger than anyone had previously thought possible, and immediately, all throughout planet Earth, the effects of that collision begin to be felt. Tides, which are controlled by the Moon, become erratic, causing deadly tidal waves. Fissures in the Earth's crust crack, causing earthquakes worldwide, even in places where no earthquakes had ever occurred before. Within twenty-four hours, it becomes apparent that thousands upon thousands of people have died, and that, with the Moon out of its normal orbit, many more deaths are sure to follow.
This may sound like a depressing story, but in fact it's a story about hope and survival. LIFE AS WE KNEW IT follows Miranda and her family through nearly a year after the meteor's collision with the Moon, and all of the events that come after it--the power outages, the food shortages, the weather changes, and the loss of human contact. As Miranda and her family come to grips with this new way of living, their bodies and spirits will be tested more than they've ever been before. But this is ultimately a story about learning to survive with what you've got, and never taking what you have for granted. A wonderful, inspiring story, LIFE AS WE KNEW IT is one you'll want to read more than once.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius"
on 17 January 2010
In a world where climate change is brought on by an asteroid hitting the moon, Miranda's family struggle to survive in freak weather conditions in small-town America. Unlike some films of the same genre which move from civilisation to chaos in a few weeks, the pace of the onset of change is slow and progressive and the family have time to plan their survival in freezing weather conditions without electricity, water and food and hope that life as they knew it will be restored.
A great story about how catastrophe hits an ordinary family, to be recommended to any one who enjoys the "what if?" scenario and wants something to really think about. To be read before "The dead and the gone", another cracking read.
on 11 May 2013
This book was ok, as YA fiction goes though it doesn't stand in the same class as series like TMI, Caster Chronicles etc in that adult themes are tackled in this but something is lacking and those books easily appeal to the adult market. The book is Miranda's journal. A meteor is to hit the moon and according to scientists everything is going to be ok. It should be a good show except when it hits, the moon is knocked off kilter and this causes all sorts of natural disasters. The story soon turns into one of survival as society breaks down and looking out for family above all. Miranda is the middle child, she lives with her mum and younger brother, her older brother comes home from college just after it all starts. She starts off wondering why her mum is panic buying, why she's rationing food and not allowing Miranda to have a boyfriend when they're all trying to maintain some semblance of normality thinking the government will help and all will settle down and life will go back to normal. Eventually it starts to sink in that life won't be normal, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better and her selfishness eventually turns to selflessness as she's forced to face reality that they may not all survive and she has tough choices to make. I can't say I didn't enjoy it. There are two more in the series to read but at times I felt it was almost a food diary she was writing. When diary entries that didn't revolve around every meal were written it was a good read, a light read but most definitely aimed at teens. I guess I'm a bit too old for it.
on 21 March 2010
The moon has been stuck by a metor that knocks its orbit closer the earth causing massive tidal waves across the planet. Volcanic eruptions in places that have never known them. In Pennsylvania Miranda a teen living with her mom and brothers is keep a journal of everything that is happen to her. From the first days were people think that that their will not be to impacted, to the search for food and watching those you love get sick from the flu and wondering if they are going to make.
"Life as we knew it" by Susan Beth Pfeffer is a great book for any one who love post-apocalyptic books. Ms. Pfeffer show the stuggle that Miranda and her family good though just to make it from one day the next with tasks that we take for granted. You being to feel the pain that Miranda is feeling as her whole world is turned upside down and trys to hang on. Overall, "Life as we knew it" is a great book and I can't wait to read the other two book in the series.
on 2 February 2013
I love end-of-the-world dramas, zombies or not, and this sounded right up my alley, I needed a good listen for my journeys down south (4 hours) each week and so ordered it!
LAWKI is written in a diary set up - first person - from the POV of Miranda. The world is thrown into turmoil when the moon is knocked off its orbit by a meteor, and the world changes in unimaginable ways. Miranda is faced with hunger, freezing temperatures, illness, vigilantes, and the biggest struggle, boredom. The moon causes tidal waves, earth quakes, volcanic eruptions, knocks out the electric, oil runs low, cities destroyed, and civilization changed. Life as we knew it, has changed.
Miranda. URRRH Miranda. I praise Pfeffer for being brave enough to write a teenage girl as a teenager girl, rather than a girl turned superwoman in the face of catastrophic events. But she is SOOOO self centered, and brattish that I want to slap her, for the majority of the book. There is a learning curve and she does get better, but she's in no way a character you root for. Her brothers are the ones you want to survive, the only reason you want Miranda around is so she can write her diary and keep you updated. Even her act at the end, appears selfish, but really its not, its another attention seeking venture.
The story itself is good, the disasters and the slow realizations of the public very realistic, the supermarket scenes were brilliantly real, and the slow descent into turmoil was a fresh change from the usual `bang' and everything has altered. But I do question the science, there are super sized tsunami's due to the tides being altered, fine, but the volume of water won't change surely? So if there is land being eaten away, new land should appear - but there is no mention of this. There is also little mention of the rest of the world, which annoyed the hell out of me, why should the world revolve around america, its about half way through the book before Miranda realizes that there even is ANOTHER part of the world, although she admits that she should of thought more of it before.
What saved this book was the realism in the disaster, and the family's struggles, but also the relationships, and the losses in the book are soul wrenching at times, and often unexpected. Miranda's friends show the other troubles and struggles in the world now, outside of Miranda's world, and Peter's take on things is amusing and harrowing at the same time. I didn't get the whole brandon thing, it felt like filler for a book that didn't need filler, but generally characters were there for a reason, and they were all important to the overall feel of the book. Whilst I've mentioned the realism, there were a few points where I thought `yeah right' and the story lost its credibility for me a little, it takes a brave writer to sacrifice a lead character and I felt that Pfeffer cheated with this - never really delivering that final punch.
Clearly, watching the superb Melancholia, followed up by reading the imagination-catching The End Specialist and Altered Carbon, has seized hold of my mind and set it on a quest. It culminated this week in reading all three books in Susan Pfeffer's The Last Survivors series published by Marion Lloyd Books between 2006 and 2010. The three novels are ostensibly aimed at Young Adults but, without doubt, as with all good fiction, the books are ageless in their appeal and execution. The first novel, Life As We Knew It, appears to have been written originally as a standalone novel but reading this book undoubtedly whets your appetite for more and so it's a huge relief that two sequels followed in quick succession.
One evening in May, crowds gather around barbecues to celebrate a once in a life time event - a meteor is about to pass by the earth. But it doesn't quite make it - it hits the moon and pushes it just a little off its orbit, resulting in fear in those who watch the moon loom larger as well as an ever-increasing ripple of effects on our planet. In Life As We Knew It we follow events through the eyes and journal of teenager Miranda, who lives with her brothers Matt and Jon and her mother Laura in a quiet town not too far away from NYC. Her father, Hal, has a new wife Lisa and a baby on the way. As the novel opens, Miranda is looking forward to spending a summer month away with her dad. But then the asteroid hits.
Immediate impacts include radio reports of massive tsunamis, wiping out much of the west coast as well as NYC. It's not long before electricity becomes a rare luxury and days of existence are counted in tins of vegetables.
Immediately, Miranda's mother provides us with the perfect example of what to do when disaster threatens. She organises her kids in a sophisticated onslaught on shop supplies, for themselves and for their good friend and neighbour Mrs Nesbitt.
The decline in civilisation is as slow as it is relentless. Earthquakes are followed by dormant volcanoes coming alive with a force that turns the skies grey with ash and temperatures plummet. We're spared the mass carnage of the coasts and cities. Instead, we have a drip by drip loss of everything that Miranda had and hoped for. But far from being depressing, with little news coming in from the outside world, we keep hope alive because we watch events through the extremely likeable and resilient Miranda. She has to grow up and she does. She and her brothers hang on, attending schools and libraries, grabbing fleeting moments of fun, ice-skating on a lake, saving gifts for birthdays, making sunrooms cosy, never giving up, while still keeping something of the teenager in herself, fighting with her brothers, squabbling with her mother, missing her father. Miranda's voice and spirit make for a wonderful and often very endearing guide, so much so I read Life As We Knew It in a day and I couldn't buy the sequel fast enough.
Life As We Knew It shows us Miranda's life for a year after the meteor hits. At the end of the year, very possibly, just like me you'll be longing to pick up the story.
on 17 July 2008
I can't believe how great this book is. I wish I'd had more time to read it as it's a book to be devoured. I found myself wondering from the outset how I might've managed in similar circumstances and to be honest, I couldn't. Our narrator is Miranda, a sixteen year old from Pennsylvania. She lives with her mother, older brother Matt and younger brother Jonny. Her father has left home and lives with his partner, Lisa whom we find out on the first page is pregnant.
The novel is written as a diary within sections - which are the seasons. Although, there are chapters usually ended at a significant point. It is narrated in the present tense and there are no clues from the blurb as to how the novel ends. The present tense works so well in this novel because it means the reader does not have any clues and the characters are unaware also of the outcome.
At the beginning of the novel we get to know Miranda and her friends through the first few diary entries and then what the scientists have predicted will happen changes everything. An asteroid hits the moon, spinning it out of control, bringing it closer to earth. From this point on, the novel is about life, its changes and, as the title says, life as we knew it. Superbly written, with great characters. You will admire them, pity them and cheer them. You'll find yourself wondering what's coming next and trying to imagine yourself in the same situation. However, you'll have to read it to answer the question Miranda asks on the back cover - will we survive?
on 28 January 2012
Life As We Knew It isn't exact in its science, and I don't feel that it was meant to be. The science isn't necessary, it's the fall-out and consequences for the family in the book that makes the story. So if you want a book with a good, grounded scientific explanation, stop reading now - this is not the book for you.
However if you want a book that is focused on a family's fight for survival in a world racked by tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes caused by the moon being knocked out of its orbit, told from the perspective of the teenage daughter, this may be right up your street. It is told in journal style which I know some people (including myself), aren't the biggest fans of, but if it was written in the third person it may not have worked.
What I did like about this book is the focus on survival, and family. The people of the town don't make much of an appearance, and there are only fleeting glimpses of not-so-baddies. I did find that to be a little of a fantastical view of the world, but again, this is a YA book so by nature violence should be minimal. None of the characters were particularly abrasive or irritating, nor too sugary-sweet nicey-nicey, and were quite well developed.
And what didn't I like? For me, I don't think it was a realistic portrayal of how life would be like in an event of this magnitude. At 19 I probably would have hated this book for being unrealistic and narrow-minded, but at twenty-*cough* I can see why the author wrote Life As We Knew It as she did.
If I had a twelve year old daughter, I'd happily give her this book to read. If I had a friend who loved YA, I'd probably lend it to her. Will I read the next book in the series? Perhaps, because I'm curious as to what happens next.
on 8 October 2011
This really is a book that you just can't put down. I read it in 2 days and although many parts of it
were very bleak it was an amazing book.
The moon has been hit by an asteroid which has knocked it off its orbit and sent it closer to the Earth.
This has caused the tides to change creating huge tsunamis that have wiped out many islands, countries
and large cities near the coast. It also causes earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that kill millions.
It also speeds up climate change. The sun is blocked by all the ash from the eruptions and its getting
cold much sooner than normal. We see all this through the eyes of teenage Miranda who has been writing
it all down in her diary. She is with her Mother and her two brothers, stuck at home and slowly starving
to death. As I said, at times its pretty bleak and this book is in no ways a "they'll all be alright happy
ending" sort of book. People do die, their situation does get worse, at times it seems completely hopeless
and you wonder, if it were me, if it really did happen, would I have their strength? Or would I just give
I really enjoyed the way it was written in diary format. Time passed very slowly and the disasters progressed
alot slower than they do in movies. As it probably would in real life, things get so bad, then they seem to
not get any worse, but then they do and its all very gradual. There are times when you wonder are Miranda and
her family the only ones left?
You really are kept guessing, you don't know what is going to happen, who will survive, thats what makes this
such a brilliant read. I love the not knowing, I loved Ms Pfeffer's writing and I can't wait to order the
2 sequals and find out what happens to Miranda, her family and the rest of the world.