Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006)

life as

This chilling what-if scenario fosters a staunch appreciation for life a we know it.

Recommended grade level: 6-12

Pages: 337 (for ISBN 9780152061548)

Genre(s) and keywords: science fiction, post-apocalyptic, survival, dystopian (in the world-ending sense, not the evil -government sense)

Tone/Style: serious, desperate, dissatisfied

Pace: moderate

Topics: natural disasters, destruction

Themes: survival, family, protecting others, grief and loss, going without, change

Summary: Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove. In her journal, Miranda records the events of each desperate day, while she and her family struggle to hold on to their most priceless resource—hope. (Source)

Who will like this book?: This book is ten years old and has remained popular. It straddles the line between science fiction/dystopia and what-if style survival fiction, and so has wide appeal. Horror fans may also appreciate its chilling scenarios. It’s easy to connect to Miranda, so the emotional stakes are high and the destruction is unmerciful.

Who won’t like this book?: Light and fluffy it is not. Also, it is more endurance-style survival rather than actiony.

Other comments: Coincidentally, I just gave this book to a teen patron about an hour ago! This is a female protagonist book that appeals to a lot of boys, so it’s great for breaking down gender barriers in reading.

Sequel(s): The Dead and the Gone (2008); This World We Live In (2010); The Shade of the Moon (2013)

What to read next: The Rule of Thre3 by Eric Walters, The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, and Fallout by Todd Strasser.  For more mature readers,try  Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne and Ashfall by Mike Mullin (both recommended for grades 8+).

-Kylie Peters

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