Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: the dead & the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

the dead & the gone (Last Survivors #2)
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: June 1, 2008
Pages: 308
Source: Paperback/Own

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 novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.

Review: Unlike the last book this one starts on the day the asteroid hit the moon. Now Alex didn't keep a journal but Pfeffer wrote this book so that you could follow things day by day as they happened also. Pfeffer shows how things are drastically different in New York City than a rural town in Pennsylvania. Alex was working at a pizza parlor the night it happened. The cable went out and he didn't think nothing of it, so after work he went home and found the power out, the cable out, even no radio broadcasts. He went to bed thinking things would be fine in the morning until he was woken up at 4:30 in the morning by his uncle to clear out his store and stock up food, that's when he found out the blackouts were caused by the moon. Days start to pass with no word from their parents and only a phone call from their brother Carlos saying hes being deployed to Texas. There was a possible call from what sounded like Papi and what sounded like he said Puerto Rico but no one is 100% sure it was him. Alex and his sisters are abandoned and forced to fight for survival on their own. As time goes on more and more people are leaving New York, but because his family was never rich they cant get out because getting out is based on money and connections, and if you didn't have either, you were forced to fend for yourself in the city. Alex sends the older of his sisters to a convent with a farm so she has a safe place with food and so that he can save whatever he can for him and his younger sister. Within weeks of the moon being knocked out of orbit the food starts running out. He find 2 keys in his dads office to other apartments and people keep leaving so he got 2 more, in a search for food they search the abandoned apartments for anything they can get their hands on. Some food is found but to save as much as they can they rely on their schools for a meal a day. Then the volcanoes start erupting blocking out the sunlight and any hope of growing food. In the midst of everything bartering has become the new economy. A couple months later a friend introduces Alex to body shopping, taking valuable items off of fresh corpses to trade for food. He hated it but he was willing to do anything to ensure him and his sisters survival. Air quality got worse, the cold came in suddenly and his sister was sent home with a medical condition. Throughout all of this, their catholic faith kept them going though it was also a downfall.

I loved how throughout the book the Morales family kept their faith and fought so hard to survive. It was amazing to read how different things could be in a city than a rural town and this book was as heart wrenching as its companion maybe even a little more. It showed a 17 year old stepping up to protect and make his family survive even though its something a man his age should never have to do.

4 Stars!

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