From the Publisher
* "The protagonists of Pfeffer's novels The Dead and the Gone and Life As We Knew It join forces in this third installment of a harrowing saga set in the not so distant future. A year after the moon was thrown off course by a meteor, natural disasters and climate changes on Earth are still making mere existence a challenge...Throughout, readers will be moved by displays of compassion, strength, and faith as characters endure grim realities and face an uncertain future." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Palpable despair is dappled with tiny flares of hope in this third entry in Pfeffer’s enthralling series about the aftereffects of a meteor strike on the Moon that has altered the earth’s gravitational pull...fans of the first two will thrill to this latest and the loose ending will leave them hoping for more." —Kirkus
The protagonists of Pfeffer's novels The Dead and the Gone and Life As We Knew It join forces in this third installment of a harrowing saga set in the not so distant future. A year after the moon was thrown off course by a meteor, natural disasters and climate changes on Earth are still making mere existence a challenge. Miranda's family is barely scraping by on food rations when Miranda's father, stepmother, their baby, and three other refugees show up unexpectedly. Despite there now being more mouths to feed, Miranda's mother welcomes them, and Miranda finds herself falling in love with Alex, one of the refugees, as they spend hours together, scavenging abandoned houses for essentials. Pfeffer masterfully evokes the cold, colorless world in which her characters reside. Moments of relief are frequently tinged with horror, as when Miranda and Alex must bypass a rotting corpse to get to a horde of food. Still, hope is never completely extinguished. Throughout, readers will be moved by displays of compassion, strength, and faith as characters endure grim realities and face an uncertain future. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
Palpable despair is dappled with tiny flares of hope in this third entry in Pfeffer's enthralling series about the aftereffects of a meteor strike on the Moon that has altered the earth's gravitational pull. Set a year after the cataclysmic event, the back story is efficiently summarized and readers are reintroduced to Miranda, the teen whose journal entries formed the narrative of the first installment. When her missing father returns, he brings many others with him, including Alex, the protagonist from the second in the series. The author once again creates an extremely satisfying blend of human drama and action. Grimly frightening imagery and spot-on depiction of day-to-day bleakness are emotionally potent. Unfortunately, the inevitable romance between Miranda and Alex is less so. Given the circumstances, it is believable that their relationship would be rushed, but the initial antagonistic tone set up between them still seems too easily resolved, resulting in a formulaic feel. However, fans of the first two will thrill to this latest and the loose ending will leave them hoping for more. (Science fiction. 12 & up)
VOYA - Mary Ann Darby
A year after the moon has been thrown off course by a meteor, Miranda from Life as We Knew It (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006/VOYA October 2006) continues to write journal entries. Climate changes and natural disasters persist in making survival a daily ordeal. Miranda, her mother, and two brothers, Matt and Jon, are scraping by on subsistence rations, so when Matt brings home a new wife, Syl, and her father and stepmother show up with their baby and three other travelers, excitement is tempered by tension. Two of the travelers, Alex and Julie Morales (Dead and Gone, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008/VOYA April 2008), have made their way back north still in possession of three passes to one of the elusive safe towns. Alex, however, plans to take Julie to a convent to keep her safe. He decides he should dedicate his life to God too, but as the relationship between Alex and Miranda changes from antagonistic to loving, tension and questions abound. A catastrophic storm changes everything, leaving more loose ends tinged with suspense and leaving room for a fourth installment in this series. Teens who have read the first two of these compelling apocalyptic novels will eagerly reach for the third. The coincidence of Miranda and Alex's lives crossing paths seems farfetched, but the main focus of survival amid the unending challenges spawned by the moon's shift supply plenty of suspense. The compassion and strength of individuals, questions of faith, and connections of the heart in the midst of constant turmoil combine to make this a thought-provoking read. Reviewer: Mary Ann Darby
Children's Literature - Carollyne Hutter
This is the third book in the apocalyptic trilogy that began with the books Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone. This book brings together Miranda and Alex, the two protagonists from the other books. The book deals with a bleak and desolate world, resulting from a meteor colliding with the moon and altering the earth's climate. Food is scarce, many neighbors have died, and the landscape is frozen. Miranda, her two brothers, and her mother are struggling to survive when Miranda's father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers. One of the strangers is Alex. Complications arise when Miranda develops feelings for Alex. To further aggravate an already desperate situation a tornado hits the town. The book can be read alone or with the others in the trilogy. It is full images of death and destruction and should not be read by those with a low tolerance for violence. Reviewer: Carollyne Hutter
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—This companion to Life As We Knew It (2006) and The Dead and the Gone (2008, both Harcourt) brings together the teen protagonists of those books when Miranda Evans's father and stepmother arrive with their new baby and a trio of strangers, including Alex Morales. For the past year, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother have been living in the family home in Howell, PA, struggling to survive since an asteroid hit the Moon, destroying the Earth's climate and causing millions to die. Deeply religious, Alex is determined to see his younger sister, Julie, safely to a convent before joining a monastery himself. When Miranda and Alex fall in love, she tries to persuade him to stay with her. Then a tornado hits Howell with tragic consequences, and Miranda must make a choice that may drive Alex away forever. As the narrator, Miranda dominates the book, but both she and Alex are sympathetic characters with her independence a nice complement to his sense of honor. Characters such as Miranda's brothers, parents, and Julie play less of a role but are still likable and fully three-dimensional. It is a testament to the author's skill that This World We Live In can be read as a stand-alone novel. In fact, new readers might not even realize that the earlier titles exist. Fans of Miranda and Alex, however, will keep this installment flying off the shelves, and the ambiguous ending will make them clamor for a fourth book.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD
Read an Excerpt
I’m shivering, and I can’t tell if it’s because something strange is going on or because of the dream I had or just because I’m in the kitchen, away from the warmth of the woodstove. It’s 1:15 a.m., the electricity is on, and I’m writing in my diary for the first time in weeks.
I dreamed about Baby Rachel. I dream about her a lot, the half sister I’ve never met. Not that I know if Lisa had a girl or a boy. We haven’t heard from Dad and Lisa since they stopped here on their way west, except for a couple of letters. Which is more than I got from anyone else who’s left.
Rachel was about five in my dream, but she changes age a lot when I’m sleeping, so that wasn’t disturbing. She was snuggled in bed and I was reading her a bedtime story. I remember thinking how lucky she was to have a real bedroom and not have to sleep in the sunroom with Mom and Matt and Jon the way I have for months now.
Then in the dream the lights went out. Rachel wanted to know why.
"It’s because of the moon," I said.
She giggled. A real little-girl giggle. "Why would the moon make the lights go out?" she asked.
So I told her. I told her everything. I explained how in May an asteroid hit the moon and knocked it a little closer to Earth, and how the moon’s gravitational pull got stronger, and everything changed as a result. There were tidal waves that washed away whole cities, and earthquakes that destroyed the highways, and volcanic eruptions that threw ash into the sky, blocking out sunlight, causing famine and epidemics. All because the moon’s gravitational pull was a little bit stronger than before.
"What’s sunlight?" she asked.
That was when the dream turned into a nightmare. I wanted to describe sunlight, only I couldn’t remember what the sky looked like before the ash blocked everything. I couldn’t remember blue sky or green grass or yellow dandelions. I remembered the words—green, yellow, blue—but you could have put a color chart in front of me, and I would have said red for blue and purple for yellow. The only color I know now is gray, the gray of ash and dirt and sadness.
It’s been less than a year since everything changed, less than a year since hunger and darkness and death have become so commonplace, but I couldn’t remember what life—life the way I used to know it—had been like. I couldn’t remember blue.
But there was Baby Rachel, or Little Girl Rachel, in her little girl’s room, asking me about how things were, and I looked at her, and she wasn’t Baby Rachel anymore. She was me. Not me at five. Me the way I was a year ago, and I thought, That can’t be. I’m here, on the bed, telling my half sister a bedtime story. And I got up (I think this was all the same dream, but maybe it wasn’t; maybe it was two dreams and I’ve combined them), and I walked past a mirror. I looked to make sure I was really me, but I looked like Mrs. Nesbitt had when I found her lying dead in her bed last fall. I was an old woman. A dead old woman.
It probably was two dreams, since I don’t remember Baby Rachel after the part where I got up. Not that it matters. Nothing matters, really. What difference does it make if I can’t picture blue sky anymore? I’ll never see it again, anyway, or yellow dandelions or green grass. No one will, nowhere on Earth. None of us, those of us who are still lucky enough to be alive, will ever feel the warmth of the sun again. The moon’s seen to that.
But horrible as the dreams were, they weren’t what woke me. It was a sound.
At first I couldn’t quite place it. I knew it was a sound I used to hear, but it sounded alien. Not scary, just different.
And then I figured out what the sound was. It was rain. Rain hitting against the roof of the sunroom.
The temperature’s been warming lately, I guess because it’s spring. But I couldn’t believe it was rain, real rain, and not sleet. I tiptoed out of the sunroom and walked to the front door. All our windows are covered with plywood except for one in the sunroom, but it’s nighttime and too dark to see anything anyway, unless you open the door.
It really is rain.
I don’t know what it means that it’s raining. There was a drought last summer and fall. We had a huge snowstorm in December and then another one later on, but it’s been too cold and dry for rain.
I probably should have woken everyone up. It may never rain again. But I have so few chances to be alone. The sunroom is the only place in the house with heat, thanks to the firewood Matt and Jon spent all summer and fall chopping. We’re in there together day and night.
I know I should be grateful that we have a warm place to live. I have a lot to be grateful for. We’ve been getting weekly food deliveries for a month now, and Mom’s been letting us eat two meals a day. I’m still hungry, but nothing like I used to be. Matt’s regained the strength he lost from the flu, and I think Jon’s grown a little bit. Mom’s gotten back to being Mom. She insists we clean the house as best we can every day and pretend to do some schoolwork. She listens to the radio every evening so we have some sense of what’s happening in other places. Places I’ll never get to see.
I haven’t written in my diary in a month. I used to write all the time. I stopped because I felt like things were as good as they were ever going to get, that nothing was going to change again.
Only now it’s raining.
And I’m writing again.
What People are saying about this
From the Publisher
"The protagonists of Pfeffer's novels The Dead and the Gone and Life As We Knew It join forces in this third installment of a harrowing saga set in the not so distant future. A year after the moon was thrown off course by a meteor, natural disasters and climate changes on Earth are still making mere existence a challenge...Throughout, readers will be moved by displays of compassion, strength, and faith as characters endure grim realities and face an uncertain future."Publishers Weekly, starred review "Palpable despair is dappled with tiny flares of hope in this third entry in Pfeffer’s enthralling series about the aftereffects of a meteor strike on the Moon that has altered the earth’s gravitational pull...fans of the first two will thrill to this latest and the loose ending will leave them hoping for more."Kirkus
"It is a testament to the author’s skill that This World We Live In can be read as a stand-alone novel. In fact, new readers might not even realize that the earlier titles exist. Fans of Miranda and Alex, however, will keep this installment flying off the shelves, and the ambiguous ending will make them clamor for a fourth book."—SLJ