Crazyjamie's Reviews > This World We Live In

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
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's review
Dec 27, 2011

it was ok
Read in December, 2011

Going in to this book, I always felt that the first two in the series deserved more recognition than they have received. The first book, 'Life As We Knew It', deals with the story of Miranda and her family in the aftermath of a catastrophic event where the moon is knocked closer to the Earth by an asteroid. Whilst not perfect, I thought that it was an immersive read that was a worthy addition to the whole 'post apocalyptic/disaster' genre. The second book, 'The Dead And The Gone', was much better in my opinion. It describes the same event from the perspective of new character, Alex, as he fights to protect his sisters in New York. I felt the second book was a significant step up in terms of characters, plot and general atmosphere.

So it was with a degree of anticipation that I started to read the conclusion of the trilogy, where Miranda and Alex meet each other. The book itself is told from the perspective of Miranda as she writes in her diary, the same as the first book.

The main question here was always going to be whether or not Pfeffer could maintain the immersion and atmosphere of the first two books in a plot line that starts after the initial fallout has come and gone. In many ways writing about a natural disaster provides a lot of material inherently as people react to the catastrophic event as it happens. Pfeffer was never going to be able to rely on that here, and in many ways had to come up with a more original story with little help from the source material.

Unfortunately, and I can only be blunt about this, she falls well short in this regard. In many ways it is difficult for me to be so damning about a book when I very much enjoyed the previous books, because I genuinely do like the setting and tone of the series as a whole. But whilst This World We Live In may provide a clear indication of the bleakness of the life that the characters face, there just wasn't enough in the book to keep the reader immersed. The sense of tension which was so strong in the previous books was always entirely absent in the third book.

Ultimately the book descends into a largely uneventful narrative of day to day life. The introduction of other characters into the life that Miranda lives with her mother and two brothers adds little spice to proceedings. The love story, which is openly declared on the back page of the book, ends up as an unconvincing affair that invokes little emotion in the reader. The book does contain some excitement, but this comes towards the end and ultimately cannot make up for the rather bland 80% of the book that came before it. Even then, the 'shocking' event of the book is predictable and actually doesn't really shock at all.

And that, perhaps, is why this book is so disappointing overall. Ultimately the 'shocking' event in this book falls a bit flat, and this is in stark contrast to the events in the other two books, particularly the second. When compared to what Pfeffer put together in the first two books, this one just reads like she has run out of ideas. There was so much potential here, but unfortunately it has largely gone to waste. Fans of the first two books will inevitably read this, but sadly I expect most will come away disappointed.

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