Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Pages: Hardback, 239
Opening Lines: "I'm shivering, and I can't tell if it's because something strange is going on or because of the dream I had or just because I am in the kitchen, away from the warmth of the woodstove."
"It's been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth's climate. For Miranda Evans, life as her knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.
"Miranda and her two brothers spend their days scavenging for food and household items, while their mother stays at home and desperately tries to hold in to the ordinary activities of their previous life. But they all know that nothing is truly normal in this surreal new world they live in.
"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 has 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."
~ Jacket copy
Thoughts: Wow, what a difference it makes going back to Miranda being the narrator through diary entries. Honestly, it was hard to tell the difference between this book and Life As We Knew It. Aside from adding Alex and Julie to the story, I felt as though the transition between the first book and this one was pretty seamless.
According to Miranda's first diary entry, this book picks up about a month after the first one ended. The family is still getting weekly food deliveries; however, survival is extremely hard. In some ways, I didn't feel that the characters developed too much beyond the end of the first book. Even though he is now 15, I found Jon to still be extremely juvenile and babyish. Matt continues to be a asshole, and he still tries to exert control over the family. As time goes on, I think he is more hell bent on running the family. It was obvious that he tried to step into his father's role when he left; however, he just ends up being an ass. That being said, their mom isn't always the most logical thinker. And, on top of that, Miranda is still struggling with her new life and identity. She can no longer be a kid, but she is desperately trying to keep some sense of normal. While I might be able to see the argument that all the characters are seen from Miranda's view point, I felt that the character development was either stunted or non-existent.
It seemed that the author was trying to throw a few things into the mix and spice the story up a little; however, she didn't really have good follow through. The addition of Syl seemed extremely frivolous. Near the end, it becomes apparent why she was there; however, it almost would have been better if she had just been someone passing through. Unless it dealt with things like Horton and the catalyst for the occasional fight, she lived in her bedroom. As one review pointed out, it almost appeared as though she was meant as a sinister element; however, nothing came of that. In addition, her rapid religious conversion had me extremely confused from quite some time. It wasn't until Miranda mentioned it several chapters into the book that it was marginally explained. Even then I wondered why she would so quickly change from worshiping Diana to being a born again Christian. It was rather odd.
Aside from the weather changes, the inconvenience of biking into town for the food, and the addition of new people, there really was no danger. In a post-apocalyptic world, I would think there might be bands of roaming maniacs, disease popping up when the weather got warmer, etc. There was nothing. It was rather anti-climatic. Honestly, I think the tornado was the only big event in the book, and that lasted only about a page.
In some ways, I found Alex to be far more anal and unbelievable in this book. Granted, I understand holding onto his religious upbringing—especially living in a post apocalypse world—but his insane goal to bring Julie to the convent was a little out there. Even though Carlos was adamant about Julie going to the convent, I think he might have agreed that Julie was better off with Miranda's family. At least there she was guaranteed some measure of safety, she had a family, and she was looked after. There was no way to even be sure the convent would take her. Further, for someone who is supposed to care of the well being of his sister, Alex was a major ass.
Even though I had some issues with this book, I did end up enjoying it. Had life not happened in abundance, I would have tore through it in about a day. It was nice that Pfeffer was able to return to the same mood of the first book. After the horrible disappointment of the second, I was extremely reluctant to read this one. And, despite my issues, I was pleasantly surprised.