Sunday, January 27, 2008

Susan Beth Pfeffer. THE DEAD AND THE GONE

I got my lucky hands on an advance copy of the companion novel to LIFE AS WE KNEW IT* by Susan Beth Pfeffer, called THE DEAD AND THE GONE (due out in June). When I first heard about the book, I thought it was a sequel, and I was anxious to see what happened to Miranda and her family after the disaster. Then I learned that this is actually a companion novel, and I came to realize that this was a much more interesting direction to go in (which is why the author decided to write this story, I’m sure). We get to go back to the same events in the first story, but see them in a completely different city, with different people. In this novel, we get to see how these events affect New York City. Now that I think about it, I was curious how this disaster would play out in other areas in the world while I was reading the first book. So, it seems natural that the author would explore this from another point of view, and I am glad she did.

We join Alex Morales on the day of the asteroid hitting the moon. He’s working at the pizza parlor. He doesn’t even realize what’s happened for a while, since it was a cloudy night. Then when his uncle shows up later that night at his house to take them all to his grocery shop to gather up all the food, he begins to see how bad things are. Alex’s mom has been called to work at the hospital. His father is away in Puerto Rico. His brother is away in the Marines. Alex, who is only seventeen, is left to take care of his two younger sisters. Since it’s on the coast, New York is affected by the flooding from the tsunamis. Whole boroughs of New York are being evacuated. People who can leave are leaving the city for safer places. The city slowly declines to feeling half-dead. Alex isn’t sure if he should leave the city, since he’s hoping his mom and dad will return.

This was just a gripping as the first novel. Ms. Pfeffer evoked the same eerie mood just as brilliantly as in the first book. I was glad to visit this world again, even as depressing as it was. It was intriguing to see how different people handle this type of tragedy. Alex was carrying a tremendous weight on his shoulders, and I was amazed that he could continually find the strength to go on. It makes you wonder how you would handle it yourself. The drama was heart wrenching and completely realistic. And yet somehow, the book ends with hope. I’m still thinking about how haunting the first book was, so now I’ll have two versions of the story to haunt me!

*My review of the first book is here

By the way, sometimes the cover on the Advance Reading Copy is different from when the final copy is published. I really, really hope they keep the cover on this one. I love it. It portrays the mood of the book so well. And isn't it just beautiful!

Ms. Pfeffer's written a ton of other books. Check it out here:

More about her at her blog: