This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer: read January, 2010; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter (thank you so so much, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – you were my first stop in the exhibit hall in the hopes of getting my hands on this one)
Susan Beth Pfeffer’s third book in the “Moon series” (a name adopted by fans/publishers) is written as Miranda’s diary, like the first book. It picks up a month after Life As We Knew It left off. Miranda confesses to not writing in a month so the reader knows right away that they have not missed anything. It begins to rain occasionally, giving Miranda’s family hope that it will not always be cold and snowy. Because of the spring-ish weather, Miranda’s two brothers decide to travel to a river to catch fish as a supplement to the weekly government bag of food . They are gone for a week and return with fish AND a third person: Syl. Syl is a young woman they met on the trip whom Miranda’s brother Matt quickly married. Despite the reservations about such a quick marriage, the family begrudgingly accepts Syl into their home. Learning to live and survive with a fifth person is not easy, though.
Soon, that number grows when the doorbell rings and Miranda welcomes more people into her house. I don’t want to say anymore to avoid spoiling the rest of the book. If you have not read the first two, you are missing out!
I love this series. It is realistic about humanity, yet hopeful. (I attempted to read One Second After this past weekend and besides the main character being a complete jerk, the book also made me lose faith in humankind. If a disaster happens and things start to resemble that book, I think I’ll just kill myself.) Miranda never becomes perfect – she is always a teenager, but she does grow over time. Because this is written as Miranda’s diary, there is a bit of distance from Alex, whom I missed despite the fact that he does show up.
SPOILER ALERT: I never completely bought the main romance. I get that in this setting, people would tend to have more sudden couplings, but this was just wonky. It went from, “Hm, a person of the opposite sex whom I am not related to is cute” to “Alex is annoying” to “Alex is a rare boy my age but not exciting” to “OMG ILOVEYOUALEXTRULUV4EVA.” I would have bought it with more banter or fighting or conversations or stolen glances or love/hate stuff going on. But I can buy why two people in this situation would be drawn to each other. END SPOILERS
There are no miraculous recoveries here – no one figures out how to knock the moon back in to place. Pfeffer does a wonderful job describing the terrible things that happen but building in hope that the survivors will find a way to stay alive. While I appreciate the ending point, I am dying to know about where the characters end up and what it is like there.
Overall, I loved the book. I don’t love it as much as I love the first one, but it is probably neck and neck with the second in my mind. You MUST read the first two, and if you like those, you will like This World We Live In.
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