Thursday, May 16, 2013

Audiobook Review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I've had this on my TBR list forever and a day, so I was excited to find it for audio download through my library.  It's based around one of my favorite sub-genres: post-apocalyptic YA.  In Life As We Knew It, a meteor strikes the moon, shifting its orbit closer to earth.  The result is massive tsunamis that wipe out huge coastal regions, earthquakes, and such severe volcanic eruptions that the ash blocks out the sun.  In addition, long-term climate changes take place, which means Miranda and her family are forced to live off of stockpiled rations and scavenge for supplies.

I think the author did a good job of remembering the small details that I see left out of a lot of more recent YA post-apocalyptic books.  Instead of focusing on the dramatic weather-related disasters, the book is set in the middle of the country, where things are less severe.  Instead, we see life change in a slower, but more imaginable and completely terrifying way for Miranda and her family.  The author brings up things like toilet paper and feminine hygiene products and the lack of protein in the family's new diet, which are all significant, but often overlooked in books that tend to focus more on the action of the disaster itself.  I appreciated the author's take and her unique point of view.

Entertainment Value
Although the book isn't as fast-paced or action-filled as others in the genre, I think the slow (and honestly I'm not talking slow-slow, I'm talking over the course of months as opposed to the course of days) progression made the book more realistic and more frightening.  The move from feeling like things might be ok, the siblings being upset over the early school closures, to the closing of the library and the post office, and finally to a lack of basic necessities isn't necessarily frantic pacing, but I could see it really happening.  It made me anxious, and I liked that.  It also made me want to go stock up on toilet paper and canned food in a desperate way.

It was ok.  I wasn't terribly impressed, but I also wasn't bothered by anything in particular.  I think the book would be equally enjoyable in print and there's nothing that sets the narration apart for me.

I definitely recommend reading the book.  It's the first in a series of three, but it can also be read as a stand-alone.  No cliffhanger ending or incomplete story line, which I very much appreciated.  I'm sure I'll read the next two books at some point, but I don't feel like I need to do that to complete Miranda's story.


  1. Sounds like a good book. Will look into it. I listen to a lot of audiobooks--helps me keep my level of 'reading' up.

    You might enjoy One Second After. It focuses on a year in a small North Carolina town after a series of EMP bursts wipe out all electricity (evertything with a microcircuit), affecting power generation, transportation, shortages, disease, social breakdown, etc. It's not YA, but a number of my high school students really enjoyed it.

  2. Interesting considering that a meteor did hit the moon this weekend, creating a 66 foot wide crater. -Ben

    1. I had no idea that happened - fascinating!