Bauer proves the perfect choice as narrator for this excellent coming-of-age novel. Miranda is a normal 16-year-old girl whose main concerns in life are schoolwork, swim meets and whether or not she will be asked to the prom. But Miranda's world is literally ripped apart when an asteroid hits the moon, shifts it from its orbit and throws the earth into chaos. Millions die due to tsunamis and earthquakes. Millions more perish because of an early, devastatingly cold winter, brought about by ash thrown into the atmosphere by hundreds of volcanic eruptions. The story, told through a series of entries in Miranda's journal, chronicles the heroine's and her family's efforts to survive in a world where staying warm and having enough to eat and drink becomes the day-to-day priority. Bauer skillfully captures Miranda's adolescent angst with all its emotional highs and lows. By keeping the narration completely in Miranda's voice, using only slight differences in inflection to denote other characters, Bauer manages to convey the sense of Miranda herself reading her most intimate thoughts to listeners. It is a fine performance that only enhances Pfeffer's thoughtful, heart-wrenching novel. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Amanda MacGregor
When Miranda and her family sit out in their backyard in northeastern Pennsylvania and watch an asteroid hit the moon, they figure they're witnessing something pretty rare, but they have no idea it will be life changing. The asteroid pushes the moon out of its alignment, closer to Earth, bringing on immediate changes. Suddenly, tidal waves, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, and more plague the world. The initial reports on the news indicate millions dead and entire cities, even entire continents, washed away. Miranda's mother quickly helps her family prepare for the end of the world. They stockpile food, water, and other supplies, not knowing what their future may be. Miranda's diary chronicles their day-to-day life. They ration their food and firewood, worry over what may come, and wait for power to come back on. Before long, epidemics sweep through the world, killing many already-weakened people. Miranda is sure they are facing almost certain death, but, together with her family, tries to do what can be done to struggle through to another day. Pfeffer's vision of a world in danger is a horrifying one. There is nowhere safe to go, no hope, and no way to know what may come next. At times, though, the end of the world manages to feel almost boring. Each day is the same for Mirandaworry over food, encounter new troubles, and hear of more death and destruction. It is clear that death and anarchy are rampant, so while this story is focused on one family's experience, the bigger picture is still there. The subject matter is immediately compelling, and Miranda's first-person narration will engage readers who may be looking for more action on a bigger scale. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
When Miranda is told to write an essay on the upcoming meteor that is going to hit the moon, she has no idea just what is in store for her. As she and her family watch openmouthed, the meteor does indeed hit the moon. It hits it so hard that the moon is actually knocked closer to the Earth. This is closely followed by a slew of natural disasters, including tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Though the town struggles to maintain an air of normalcy the first couple of weeks, the death list keeps growing and the weather in Pennsylvania continues to decline. Miranda's mother races against time to prepare the family to survive. Amidst the inevitable food and oil shortages, Miranda, her mother, and her two brothers have to make tough decisions regarding their uncertain future. This science fiction novel hits very close to home in light of recent disasters, and it leads many teens and adults to question "What if?" Told in the form of Miranda's journal, this novel smoothly transitions from the generic coming-of-age novel into an all out survival story. Readers will engage quickly and read eagerly in order to discover whether the family, if any, will be there at the end of the novel. This novel goes far beyond the expectations of a sci-fi novel, and the reader will not be disappointed in the ending.
VOYA - Michele Winship
Mirroring recent history, this novel reminds readers of the wild power of nature that far outstrips human ability to either predict or control it. Pfeffer's science fiction holocaust story is not the predictable aftermath of a nuclear disaster across the globe, but the intimate portrayal of a slowly disintegrating family struggling to believe in a future following an asteroid's collision with the moon and the devastating after-effects on earth. With just enough science to frame the fiction, the plot is plausible and appealing to readers who may not usually explore the genre, especially middle grade females. The narrator is sixteen-year-old Miranda, who documents her life for readers through journal entries, an effective way for the author to address external as well as internal conflict. In a voice reminiscent of Anne Frank's, Miranda represents every teenage girl who will relate to her struggling to make sense of early romance, transforming friendships, and the family unrest characteristic of coming-of-age. Pfeffer's strength lies in portraying the complex relationships in a blended and extended family focused on survival, and the challenges that both draw them together and tear them apart. She also creates unlikely heroes in her secondary characters, who teach Miranda that if she reaches down deep enough, she is stronger than she ever thought she could be.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Pfeffer tones down the terror, but otherwise crafts a frighteningly plausible account of the local effects of a near-future worldwide catastrophe. The prospect of an asteroid hitting the Moon is just a mildly interesting news item to Pennsylvania teenager Miranda, for whom a date for the prom and the personality changes in her born-again friend, Megan, are more immediate concerns. Her priorities undergo a radical change, however, when that collision shifts the Moon into a closer orbit, causing violent earthquakes, massive tsunamis, millions of deaths, and an upsurge in volcanism. Thanks to frantic preparations by her quick-thinking mother, Miranda's family is in better shape than many as utilities and public services break down in stages, wild storms bring extremes of temperature, and outbreaks of disease turn the hospital into a dead zone. In Miranda's day-by-day journal entries, however, Pfeffer keeps nearly all of the death and explicit violence offstage, focusing instead on the stresses of spending months huddled in increasingly confined quarters, watching supplies dwindle, and wondering whether there will be any future to make the effort worthwhile. The author provides a glimmer of hope at the end, but readers will still be left stunned and thoughtful.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Sixteen-year-old Miranda begins a daily ten-month diary documenting the survival ordeal her rural Pennsylvania family endures when a large meteor's collision with the moon brings on destruction of the modern world and all its technological conveniences. The change in the moon's gravitational pull begins to cause natural havoc around the globe in the form of catastrophic tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes and other weather-related disasters. Miranda's American teen view gradually alters as personal security, physical strength and health become priorities. Pfeffer paints a gruesome and often depressing drama as conditions become increasingly difficult and dangerous with the dwindling of public and private services. Miranda's daily litany of cutting firewood, rationing canned meals, short tempers flaring in a one-room confinement is offset by lots of heart-to-heart talks about life and its true significance with her mother, older brother and religiously devout best friend. Death is a constant threat, and Pfeffer instills despair right to the end but is cognizant to provide a ray of hope with a promising conclusion. Plausible science fiction with a frighteningly realistic reminder of recent tragedies here and abroad. (Fiction. YA)
"...Readers will respond to the authenticity and immediacy; each page is filled with events both wearying and terrifying and infused with honest emotions. Pfeffer brings cataclysmic tragedy very close." --Booklist (September 1, 2006)
Read an Excerpt
Lisa is pregnant.
Dad called around 11 o’clock to let us know. Only Mom had already taken Jonny to his baseball practice and of course Matt isn’t home from college yet, so I was alone to get the big news.
“The baby is due in December,” Dad crowed, like he was the first guy in the history of the world with a younger second wife about to have a baby. “Isn’t that great! You’re going to have a little brother or sister. Of course it’s too soon to tell what it’s going to be, but as soon as we know, we’ll tell you. I wouldn’t mind another daughter myself. The first one I had turned out so wonderfully. How’d you like a baby sister?”
I had no idea. “When did you find out?” I asked.
“Yesterday afternoon,” Dad said. “I would have called you right away but, well, we celebrated. You can understand that, can’t you, honey? A little private time for Lisa and me before letting the world know.”
“Of course, Daddy,” I said. “Has Lisa told her family?”
“First thing this morning,” he replied. “Her parents are thrilled. Their first grandchild. They’re coming for a couple of weeks in July, before you and Jonny visit.”
“Are you going to call Matt and tell him?” I asked. “Or do you want me to?”
“Oh no, I’ll call,” Dad said. “He’s busy studying for his finals. He’ll be glad for the interruption.”
“It’s great news, Dad,” I said, because I knew I was supposed to. “Be sure to tell Lisa how happy I am for her. And you, too. For both of you.”
“You tell her yourself,” Dad said. “Here she is.”
Dad muffled the phone for a second so he could whisper something to Lisa and then she took the phone. “Miranda,” she said. “Isn’t it exciting!”
“Very,” I said. “It’s wonderful news. I’m really happy for you and Dad.”
“I was thinking,” she said. “Well, I know it’s way too soon and I haven’t even discussed this with your father yet, but would you like to be the baby’s godmother? You don’t have to answer right away, but do think about it, all right?”
That’s the problem I have with Lisa. Whenever I want to get mad at her, or just irritated because she really can be immensely irritating, she goes and does something nice. And then I can understand why Daddy married her.
“Of course I’ll think about it,” I said. “You and Daddy think about it also.”
“We don’t have to give it any more thought,” she said. “You should see the glow on your father’s face. I don’t think he could be any happier.”
“I couldn’t,” Dad said, and I could tell from his laughter that he’d grabbed the phone away from Lisa. “Miranda, please say yes. It would mean so much to us for you to be the baby’s godmother.”
So I said yes. I couldn’t exactly say no.
After that we chatted for a while. I told Dad about my last swim meet and how I was doing in school. Mom still hadn’t come back by the time I finally got off the phone, so I went online to see what’s new with figure skating. The hot topic at Brandon Erlich’s fan site is how good his chances are to win Olympic gold. Most people think not very, but a lot of us think he has a real shot at medaling and ice is slippery and you never know.
I think I’d like to take skating lessons again. I’ve missed it the past couple of years and besides, it’ll give me a chance to pick up news about Brandon. He isn’t being coached by Mrs. Daley anymore, but I bet she still hears stuff. And maybe Brandon’s mother would show up at the rink.
When Mom got in, I had to tell her about Lisa. She just said that was nice and that she knew the two of them wanted children. She and Dad have worked really hard on making it a “good divorce.” Matt says if they’d worked half as hard on their marriage, they’d still be married. I didn’t tell her about how I’m going to be the godmother (assuming Lisa doesn’t change her mind, which she’s more than capable of doing). I feel kind of bad that I’m going to be the godmother but no one said anything about Matt or Jonny being godfathers. Of course Lisa and Matt don’t get along very well, and maybe 13 is too young to be a godfather.
I hope Lisa changes her mind and I won’t have to deal with it. May 8
Not the greatest Mother’s Day ever.
I’d told Mom a while ago that I’d make dinner and she decided to invite Mrs. Nesbitt. I can’t say I was surprised, but I figured if Mom was having Mrs. Nesbitt over I could ask Megan and her mom, too. Only when Jonny found out it was going to be me and Mom and Mrs. Nesbitt and Megan and Mrs. Wayne, he said that was too many females in one room for him and he was going to have dinner at Tim’s instead.
Mom always thinks it’s a good idea for Jonny to spend time with Tim and his family because there are three boys and Tim’s father is around a lot. She said if it was okay with Tim’s folks it was okay with her.
I called Megan and told her to bring her history notes with her and we’d study for the test together, and she agreed.
Which is why I’m so mad at her. If she hadn’t said yes, it would be one thing. But she did and I made enough meatloaf for five and salad and then right before I started setting the table, Megan called and said she had decided to stay on at her church and do something with the youth group. She’d gotten the dates mixed up. And her mother didn’t feel like coming without her, so it was going to be two less for Sunday dinner and she hoped I didn’t mind.
Well, I do mind. I mind because I’d been looking forward to all of us having dinner together and to studying with Megan. I also figured Mrs. Nesbitt and Mrs. Wayne would be good people for Mom to talk to about Lisa’s baby. Mom may not be best friends with Mrs. Wayne, but she’s funny and she would have gotten Mom laughing.
Megan is spending so much time at her church. She goes to services every Sunday and she never used to and she does stuff with the youth group at least twice a week and sometimes more and for all her talking about how she’s found God, I think all she’s found is Reverend Marshall. She talks about him like he’s a movie star. I even told her that once and she said that’s how I talk about Brandon, like it was the same thing, which it isn’t at all. Lots of people think Brandon is the best skater in the U.S. right now and besides it isn’t like I talk about him all the time and act like he’s my salvation.
Dinner was okay except I overcooked the meatloaf so it was a little dry. But Mrs. Nesbitt’s never been shy with the ketchup bottle. After a while I left her and Mom alone and I guess they talked about Lisa and the baby. I wish it was summer already. I can’t wait to get my driver’s license.
I also wish I was through studying for my history exam. BORING!
But I’d better get back to it. Bad grades, no license. The Rules According to Mom.
Copyright © 2006 by Susan Beth Pfeffer