Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Dead and The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer: Review
Posted by Tiffany at 2:49 PM

Title: The Dead and The Gone
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer (blog)
Published: March 2008 by Harcourt Children's Books
Pages: 321
Price: $6.99 Book Depository $7.99 Amazon 

Series: Last Survivors #2
Rating: 3.5/5
Synopsis: 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 new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities. (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts: After reading the first book in the series and hearing reports of the horrible things going on in the cities on the coast, I was really excited to read about the disaster from the POV of a teen in New York City.

Review: The main character annoyed the heck out of me. He was very simple, very good, and extremely ready to accept blame/responsibility for everything. He was very much a Middle Grade hero. One of the things I liked about the first book was that the main character went to a few dark places during the collapse of her world. She was still a bit too good to be realistic, but these books are more for younger YA readers. Alex went through a much harder ordeal and should have shown more desperation than he did. His sisters were very annoying people.

The story itself was very scary. Society seemed to crumple almost immediately here and these kids were just left alone in the middle of it to try and find a way to survive. The corpse identification scene was horrifying, mostly because it's not that unlikely. My only problem here is that, once again, there is a miraculous salvation in the face of impending doom. I'd feel better if it wasn't a miracle each time. It just seems too lucky and the timing is perfect. Then again, who wants to read about people for 300 pages and then have them all die?

My biggest problem with this book? It doesn't take you all the way to the meeting at the end of the first book. This means that in book three we'll have to read some more backstory on Alex or just never know how he ended up at her house. Figuring this out was the main reason that I wanted to read this book. I feel that she should have brought it up flush with the end of book one so that we can start the final book in the trilogy fresh, without any backstory.

Quick Review: A terrifying look at what could happen in the big cities if a major catastrophe occurs. The characters are a bit simple and the hero is much too "good", but it's nothing that would bother a MG or younger YA reader. Definitely worth a try, if only to learn about the mysterious visitors from book one.