**spoiler alert** I was a bit excited when I found out this book was coming out, but a little less excited when I found out that it brings together th...more**spoiler alert** I was a bit excited when I found out this book was coming out, but a little less excited when I found out that it brings together the main character from the first book and the main character from the second book and makes them all romantic-like. boo. and just as i suspected, it didn't work at all.
frankly, you never buy the relationship aspect because it's very sudden and there's no pretext for it. he doesn't really even come in until about halfway through. and Alex is completely unlikeable. completely. He was an intense character in the second book, but based on the format of that book (3rd person omniscient, if i remember correctly, or maybe limited omniscient), we were able to understand his actions because we had access to his thoughts and therein his fears and worries. But here, we go back to the diary format of the first book, and again the only POV is Miranda's. We can't really get into Alex's head, and our only opportunities to do so are the few bits of dialogue that Pfeffer sprinkles in. and wastes. Alex comes off as a complete boor, an a-hole with a holier than thou streak--impossibly controlling and, to top it all, abusive. physically, emotionally, you name it. he's constantly yelling at his sister in Spanish, but we never know what they say to each other, only that his sister always shuts up first. we may forgive these actions in a character whose thoughts we are privy to, but here we are expected to infer the reasons based on the characterization of a book that we may have read some time ago (for me, a year at least). It doesn't work.
It also doesn't really advance the story. I think the author would have done a better job writing another companion novel about another part of the country. it would have made more sense than trying to throw these two people together. In the end, it really did seem like Miranda feel in "love" with Alex because he was the first boy her age she'd come across. And that really is sad, not uplifting or hopeful, or whatever the author thought it would be. It did not read as this great and astounding message about family either. But it didn't have the guts to end badly either (i.e. "we're just waiting to die now"). Instead it had this crackerjack ending where they're faced with a daunting future, but they're together, dammit, and that's what counts. FAMILY! but not very affecting at all.
All in all, the characterization was pretty bad--Miranda's still immature and annoying, her mom is still controlling, the character of Charlie is pretty darn creepy, but he's not supposed to be. I kept expecting him to turn into a sex offender, but he's actually a good guy? way to plant character elements! Alex, well, see above. Julie is a little santita. I mean, she's supposed to be 14 and feisty. you don't see that here. All Lisa does is scream, cry, and pray, which would be a normal reaction for a disaster survivor, but she's not PTSD, she's normal. but the only time she comes into the story she's screaming, she's crying, or she's praying. presumably she does other things, like eat. Syl, well there were so many things that the author could have done with her, but she ends up SUPER normal.
Check it out from the library if you must, but I wouldn't spend the money on the hardback version. (less)