This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Another random library shelf selection! Another success!
Set-up: This story takes place almost one year after an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it closer to earth, which causes all kinds of messes: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and a layer of ash that blocks the sun from view. Miranda’s family is just getting by, living in the sunroom of their home, with barely-there sustenance in the form of canned goods doled out by a city official.
Main character’s goals: Miranda’s biggest wish is for everything to go back to the way it was before the asteroid hit the moon. She wants a normal life. If she can’t have that, she at least relishes privacy whenever she can get it.
My reaction: I liked this book, although I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending. That’s more of a personal preference thing rather than a failing in the writing. I wanted something a little more concrete. Without giving anything more away, I will say that the ending fit well with the setting – the future is an uncertain place, especially in the world Miranda lives in.
I was totally into the raids they make on abandoned houses, scavenging for food, medicine, and toilet paper. Maybe because I’m always curious about what’s inside all the houses I pass on the street, maybe because I’m a scavenger by nature. Who knows. But it was fun to vicariously break in along with Miranda.
Also, I’m a little disappointed to find that post-apocalyptic fiction for young adults seems to be the new trend, now that sparkly vampires have fallen out of favor. That said, I really like post-apocalyptic stories, and I’ve liked them ever since reading George Stewart’s Earth Abides. So I guess I’m in luck with the wealth of post-apocalyptic fiction. Except that’s the genre I’m writing in right now, and I’d rather be creating a trend than trying to publish in an already-established one. But that is a rant for another time.
Of interest to writers: The diary format isn’t something I’ve seen in awhile…I haven’t even read an epistolary novel in a long time. Pfeffer does a good job of catching Miranda’s voice and making the diary believable.
I got total creepy vibes from one of the new additions to the family, and I felt Pfeffer could have developed that tension and conflict a little more than she did. This would have taken the story in a completely different direction, which is probably why she didn’t expand on that. If it had been my story….
Bottom line: This World We Live In is the third book in a series. (One of the downsides to random library selections is you sometimes jump into the middle – or end – of things.) I have already requested the first book from the library, because I want more from this author! I especially want to see how she handles the “beginning” of the end of the world.