Friday, December 24, 2010

Life As We Knew It

What do you do once you've lived through the end of the world? 

You write a book review. 

This one will be short and sweet.  In Susan Beth Pfeffer's belletristic YA novel, sixteen year old diarist Miranda Evans and her family survive volcanoes, blizzards, a deadly flu epidemic, and near-starvation, outliving nearly all their neighbors and presumably their extended family as well.  Premise:  An asteroid hits the moon, knocking it closer to the earth and setting off a series of natural disasters that pretty well wipe out most of the humans on the planet, and presumably most other terrestrial species as well.  It's a survival story, pure and simple, and the interest for readers - especially young ones - will lie in how Miranda and her family deal with an increasingly less "convenient" lifestyle and how they slowly become more resourceful, determined, and cohesive in the face of catastrophe after catastrophe.

Pfeffer's prose moves along smoothly, with evenhanded pacing and short chapters keeping the action at the fore, although one must consciously suspend disbelief that a 16 year old is describing these calamitous events with such seamless clarity, on a series of makeshift diary pages, and on the very day they're happening.  And of course, character development takes a back seat to such a stimulating plot, although events do eventually conspire to force both Miranda and her younger brother, Jonny, to mature while the crisis brings out the best in the relatively static characters of Miranda's mom and her older brother, Matt. 

I think that's almost enough said about the book.  Except to say that I chose it because it was noted over and over again by local teens as a favorite novel and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  AND that as I web-surfed to provide you with links for this post, I discovered that Pfeffer's produced two additional "Moon Crash" books since 2006, one set concurrently but in NYC rather than Pennsylvania, and the other a sequel uniting the protagonists of both novels, to be published in paperback this spring.  Now why'd she have to go and write a series?  Guess I've got two of my January reads lined up, as apparently I have grown fond of this plucky family after all...

Action:  Hoo, dogies.  It's just gotta be about canned goods. 
See, the family here survives mainly due to mom's quick decision to go shopping the day after the moon-shift and buy all the non-perishables she and her kids can get their hands on.  Her insistence on preparedness and frugality keeps them alive for much of the book.

So:  1.  I'll take a load of canned goods/non-perishables to the food bank.  (Baby, it's cold outside, snowing even.)  2.  I'll check our emergency preparedness kits and update them. (And maybe even our fire extinguishers too...)  A little for the world, a little for us.  And practical.


(MFB was definitely the Evans family's motto too, and it served them well.)  What's MFB?  It's More 'Fail Better'.  See my 'pinecone turkeys' blogpost from 11/24/10.  (With a tip of the ill-fitting hat to Samuel Beckett.)

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