Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Life As We Knew It is a fantastic end-of-the-world YA story. Told through the diary of a girl name Miranda, the simplistic style of writing is easily translatable to a younger audience. However, that doesn’t take away from it’s highly realistic plot, and believable characters. It thoroughly brings to question what could happen if something like this were to become a reality.

The plot and setting in the book are much more ‘down-to-earth’ than typical YA dystopians. Instead of something astronomically unrealistic happening, something as simple as an astroid hitting the moon occurs. Yet it creates devastating problems when the moon is knocked off its orbit. From that, everything goes downhill. However, instead of the family going on some dangerous adventure, they stay put and have to face the struggles of living without electricity, water, and heat, surrounded by death and illness. The writing makes it easy to imagine the neighborhood as your own neighborhood, and the family as your own family.

Through Miranda, the (mostly) neutral voice in the story, we are shown a variety of different characters and how they handle such a situation. All of the characters are put to the test in this novel, turning stereotypical Mary Janes into real, relatable people. The character growth and development comes so naturally. Each of the characters deals with the situation in their own ways. Some handle it better than others, some take more time, just as in real life. The growth of Miranda in particular is very impressive. Like a real person she struggles with the situations she is faced with. As she progresses through the book, she falls back several times. She has her weaknesses, which hinder her at first, but in the end, help her grow as a person.

Despite the difficult, life-changing problems the characters face in this book, it is not a very deep, dark story. To some, this might be bad thing, but for me, it was perfectly executed from the point of view of an inexperienced teen girl. It touches on many of the things average teen girls face, like prom, and school, and boys, but it isn’t so doused in those things that we lose a sense of character. In this story, family, health, happiness, and survival rule over those stereotypical things, which made Miranda a very believable character.

This story, with it’s simple premise that most end-of-the-world type YA books tend to overkill, was practical and plausible. Its characters were given strong voices and imaginable personalities. The writing was comprehensible and easy, without losing its potency. This was a book that I’ve read before, and will continue to pick up many times in the future. I most definitely recommend it.

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