Review: This World We Live in by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Where did you get the book: Netgalley e-arc
Release date:  1st March 2010

Blurb taken from

It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans, life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.

The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.

I have heard good things about this series, but I definitely recommend that you don’t start this series by reading the last book of the trilogy which is what I did. I found that I missed quite a lot of development and backstory. However I quickly caught the gist of the plot, and characters once I got into the story. I quite liked Miranda, who is the narrator of the story. The book takes the form of her diary, depicting the everyday events of surviving a post apocalyptic world, where an asteroid hit the moon and its fragments hit the Earth, which pushed it closer to the planet’s orbit.

Miranda is coping more easily with the environmental drastic changes and the everyday struggle for survival. But although she has accepted things, there are moments where she is understandably resentful because she fully realises that despite these small comforts, all the things she has took for granted have gone. Her life has changed forever and this adds an air of poignancy to the story. Along with her brothers and mother, despite the struggle to survive, new changes come along. Some for the good, like electricity (albeit very unreliable and short) makes a returns, semi regular but low food rations from the Government, and some for the bad which create tension. Her diary was a perfect medium to share her feelings and outlook about the dystopia/survival setting which I found realistic – especially the smaller entries which said just as much as a longer detailed entry would about the bleak and uncertain future her family is facing.

I had some issues with certain characters and plot lines such as Alex, the protagonist of the second book in the trilogy. And although I didn’t read his book, I did not warm up to his character because I found him distant, and the decisions he made was frankly idiotic – especially in context with what happened at the end of the book. Unlike Miranda, who was a more sympathetic character, I found his logic and reasonings about his sister were off. And I also didn’t think the romance he had with Miranada was realistic. Also, it was a bit of a coincidence that Miranda’s family is reunited despite the events which happened to her father and his family in the previous book.

I do think there might be more books to come as it leaves on an ambiguous end. I loved the feel of isolation and desolation but also finding strength with each other and as a family – which at the end of this book, is a realization that most of the characters face, including Alex. But I found some plot lines were too convenient, and characters were making decisions that just felt off. But I think it was done to bring forward a plot. This World We Live in may not be as hectic or action filled as some other post apocalyptic books, but I do think the tone of the story and the emotions was more realistic. I liked Miranda’s narration which was honest and realistic. Her outlook and insights about her new world was filled with pathos, and hope now that she is reunited with her family, even though tragedy can be part of her life.

I give The World we Live in 3.5 out 5

4 thoughts on “Review: This World We Live in by Susan Beth Pfeffer”

  1. This series MUST be read in order. It’s no wonder you didn’t understand Alex’s reasons for the decisions he made. The book about him and his sister focuses a lot on his Catholic fate and the way he was raised. I actually thought that he had a much harder time than Miranda as Alex’s parents just disappeared and he was forced into the role of parenting two younger sisters. Miranda had her mother to make a lot of the major decisions for her. Like you I thought there could have definitely been at least one more book in this series but an email from the author pretty much said not. If you get the opportunity to read the two earlier books in this series do so. All in all I thought this was a pretty awesome series.

  2. I think I did miss a lot of development from the previous books, so I did keep that in mind, and I did sense and understand Alex’s Catholicism. But I did think after what all happened, his outlook was hardheaded despite all the things that happened. The main theme of the series/book was adapting as well as surviving the changes – which I felt that despite Alex caring and trying to protect his family, he did not seem to understand that the old way of life had gone. Maybe that was the point because I can see people being rigid in their beliefs when calamities happen, but he was in a situation where he was safe and had a support network, and this was my main gripe about his character. I know faith is a powerful thing but he was in a situation where although things could have gotten worse, at least he was around people who cared for him.

    I usually like to start a series with the first book, but I have read and enjoyed other series when I have picked up a book partway in. I can pick up things as most series and books are stand alone, or features enough info for readers to catch up on. I just think in this case, even if I had picked up his book, it would not have made me warm up to him because of his set beliefs, and attitude – although I did admire his tenacity to keep his family safe.

  3. Great review. I’ve forgotten about this book. I’ve read the first two so I should go get this one for completeness sake.

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