Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Series: Last Survivors #2
Published: June 1, 2008 by Harcourt Children's Books
(236 pages, paperback)
Summary: Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event--an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex's parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.
My thoughts: The Dead and the Gone is another chilling addition to the haunting Last Survivors series. The writing is done well and I really felt Alex's voice throughout the story. The devastation that spreads throughout New York is scarily what I imagine a world slowly dying would look like. Pfeffer does an excellent job maintaining the dark, terrible aftermath of the apocalypse. There really aren't many novels that deal with the actual apocalypse happening and Pfeffer has a real talent for writing horribly sad happenings while keeping a somewhat hopeful, if distant feel. While the Dead and the Gone wasn't quite as striking as Like As We Know It was, it was still a great novel and a creepy, chilling read.
This second installment in the series takes place at the same time as the events in the first novel. I really liked seeing how a major, populated city would be affected as opposed to the small town that Miranda lives in. When Alex's parents don't come home after the moon is knocked closer to Earth, things get desperate, and fast. With his two little sisters to take care of, and a lot of responsibility riding on him, Alex responds appropriately. The desperation was more prominent in this novel, and it made the story resonate slightly darker than the first. It was kind of like reading the first book's affects, except on a much more massive scales. Instead of one or two neighbors dying, hundreds of bodies flood the streets, until things get so horrible that the city stops picking them up. With parts both poetic and grotesque, Pfeffer weaves a horrid, enlightening story of what the world would become if disaster on such a large scale occurred.
Alex was your average teenager when the end of the world happened. Now heaped with grief and forced to grow up much too quickly, he is forced to take care of his family and hold out hope that maybe someday his parents will return. The story line of this book, as I mentioned before, is a lot darker, for a lot of reasons. I found myself crying a lot throughout this book, and therefore, it was more powerful of the two books. Even though Life As We Know It is my favorite in the series, and the better of the two in my opinion, this second book is more emotional and slightly bleaker. I didn't really come to care for the characters as I had in the first book, but the characters were still heartbreakingly realistic and well-written. Maybe it was all of the destruction caused by the huge population in New York, as opposed to a small, sparsely populated town, but the Dead and the Gone was a lot like its name; bleak and blunt. In a good way, but still.
Overall, the Dead and the Gone is a great apocalyptic read. It was realistic, heartbreaking, and serious. It made me think a lot, about how short life is and how our safety can be so quickly and so easily taken away. It also had me making sure we had plenty of canned food and blankets. These books really make you think, and they're really scarily realistic. Definitelly books that should be read at night. And those covers are just chilling. One of my only complaints was that everything was so horrible and bleak at points, that the story seemed like it wasn't going anywhere. But the shocking scenes with the unexpected death and destruction--wow. They made up for the lulls. I just hope the series will hold up the feel of the first two books.
Overall Rating: 4 stars