Life As We Knew It

~by Susan Beth Pfeffer
2007 Nebula Award Nominee

Life As We Knew It is a book that I first discovered on LibraryThing. I already have a great interest in post-apocalyptic fiction, young adult or otherwise, and the cover is great. (Yeah, I'm sorta a sucker for a good cover.)

Miranda is a normal sixteen-year-old girl living in Pennsylvania who keeps a normal journal--pouring into it her frustrations and secrets. Family drama, falling outs with friends, boy troubles, complaints about school and homework, everything that you would expect to find in it. But then, disaster strikes.

A large meteor slams into the moon with enough force to change its orbit, thereby changing life as we know it. Tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, bizarre weather, deadly illnesses, and drastic climate change result. Suddenly, prom isn't nearly as important now as Miranda and her family must struggle to survive in a civilization that's collapsing and a world that's coming to an end.

I'm not entirely sure how plausible the initial scenarios is (in fact, I'm pretty sure that it's not), but everything else I am absolutely convinced could and probably would happen. Miranda's voice is completely believable--this really is what I would expect her diary to be like, trying to live through such an event.

However, I didn't quite understand some of the formatting choices used. In addition to the individual journal entries, the book was also divided into chapters as well as four seasons. I liked the addition of the seasons, but didn't really see the point of using chapters. I really wish that the individual entries had included days of the week as opposed to only the date. The only thing that really detracted from the diary format, which was wonderfully effective, was the use of word-for-word dialogue.

Although Life As We Knew It is a fairly typical post-apocalyptic survival tale, it is exceptionally well done. And though it made me extremely paranoid (I have a strong urge to start hoarding canned food right now, and am very grateful for everything that I do have) it is well-balanced and not too depressing. It is entirely appropriate for younger and older readers alike. I tore through it pretty quickly.

I recently discovered that a sequel or companion novel has been written called The Dead and the Gone which takes place in New York City, one of the harder hit areas. I look forward to finding a copy and reading about the event form an entirely different perspective.