The Dead and the Gone – Susan Beth Pfeffer
The sequel to Life As We Knew It, this volume follows three siblings left to fend for themselves in New York City after an asteroid knocks the moon closer to the Earth, causing floods, volcanoes, and worldwide crisis. With only each other and the priests and nuns of their local schools and church to rely on, Alex, Briana and Julie must somehow find a way to survive in the new, harsher world order.
I was looking forward to reading The Dead and the Gone with great anticipation, since I loved Life As We Knew It so much. Unfortunately, the sequel didn’t live up to my hopes for it. Your prose was as lovely as ever, stark and heartbreaking, but this time around the story didn’t hold any surprises for me; since this tale takes place during the same span of time as the first novel and in the same geographical area, I already knew to expect the flooding, the ash, the sudden cold, and all the other hardships. It just didn’t have the same emotional pull as the first book did, and because of that I found it harder to feel for the characters. I wish that, instead of just switching from a white family in the suburbs of eastern PA to a Latino family in Manhattan, you’d taken me to the Pacific coast, or the midwest, or the south. The tension you created in the first novel, with people leaving in the hope of finding a better place to live in another part of the country and then never being heard from again, was so thrilling and captivating–I wish you’d shown me whether their hopes were founded, or what happened in places where volcanoes sprouted, or something. Instead, this sequel was basically a repeat of the first novel, without the same drama of the unknown. I know you’re working on a third book, and I’ve resisted reading your blog about it to get spoilers–I’m certainly going to read it when it comes out, in the hopes that it will go somewhere I’m interested in following. As for The Dead and the Gone, though, I was so disappointed in comparison that I think it has to be a three.