Saturday, December 12, 2020

HIS and HER Reviews: Life As We Knew It

By Susan Beth Pfeffer

Read by Emily Bauer

Duration: 8 hours 59 minutes

Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor 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.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

HIS Review: A book about surviving a cosmic cataclysm seemed appropriate reading while living in 2020's COVID pandemic, and I jumped at the chance when my wife suggested it. In the book, an asteroid impact altered the Moon's orbit, bringing it slightly closer to the Earth and triggering natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. The people who survived the initial wave of disasters were left to fend for themselves and survive the harsh conditions that followed.

The story was told through the journal entries of a 16 year old girl named Miranda, and the style reminded me of the "found footage" movies Hollywood was churning out around 2010. Miranda, her mother Laura, younger brother Johnny, and older brother Matt were the main characters and focus of the story. There were supporting characters like Miranda's friends, the neighbor/widow Mrs. Nesbitt, and Peter the local doctor.

I wasn't very fond of any of the characters really. I found the main character nauseating and was not interested at all in her teenage/high school drama. I was actually rooting for her to die in the end. I would have enjoyed the story more if it were told from the point of view of government leaders, scientists, and other people across the country and world, but alas it was told from just one character's point of view.

What I did fine fascinating was the similarities between real life events during COVID and the post-disaster events of the book. Immediately after the first tsunamis hit, Miranda's mother took her and little Johnny to the supermarket to buy as many groceries and supplies as they could. At the supermarket, they fought over coveted shopping carts, grabbed what they could from ransacked aisles, stocked up on toilet paper, and dealt with the panic gripping the other shoppers and store staff. The scene was incredibly prescient and mirrored what my wife and I saw at our local supermarkets on March 13, 2020, just as schools were closing down and people started getting scared about COVID.

After finishing the audiobook, it gave me new respect for our nearest celestial neighbor. We take for granted the Moon and its harmony with the Earth, but all the disasters the author described were directly linked to our Moon's position, scientifically accurate in my opinion.

A small gripe with the book was the cluelessness of the Earth's scientists regarding the outcome of the asteroid impact. At the start of the book, the impact wasn't supposed to be anything to worry about, but ultimately it was large enough to affect the Moon's orbit. The explanation given was the density of the asteroid was larger than expected. It would be hard to believe an event as momentous as an asteroid impact with the moon wouldn't be carefully studied and observed by every astronomer and physicist in the world. To have that many telescopes looking at the asteroid and to know its speed and orbit, but then to miscalculate the density/mass by that much seemed improbable. But again a small gripe.

 Overall Score (3 out of 5)


HER Review: This was a re-listen for me. I first listened to Life As We Knew It in my early 20s. I was gripped by the story and was terrified of the events in them. This book made me realize just how much we take the moon for granted; our lives would be greatly affected if a slight change to the moon were to occur. Now with everything happening with the COVID-19 Pandemic, I kept thinking about this book and I knew I had to listen to it again. It was still a great story but my views towards it have changed. 

Positives: The story sure kept me at the edge of my seat. Everything that was happening was fast and  realistic. When I first listened to the story, I was honestly scared hearing about the disasters that occurred after the asteroid's impact with the moon.  But now, I found it eerie on how realistic the people's reactions were in the story. Susan Beth Pfeffer was spot on: the mass panic shopping of essentials, the fighting over shopping carts, and the idea that it's us versus them. What was super weird was how well she captivated the outcome of the school system: the schools shutting down early, schools basing students' grades on their last recorded scores, and trying to restart school for the new year with modifications despite being in a natural disaster (in our case, a pandemic).  It almost felt as if the author had a crystal ball when she was writing this book. Needless to say, I still found the story to be gripping.

Negatives: I could not stand the main character, Miranda. As I am getting older, I find myself having little interest in teenage angst and drama. Though Miranda did show growth in the story, I was still not interested to hear about her crushes or how she thought she was being mistreated while the world was ending. If anything, her younger brother, Johnny, appeared at times more mature than Miranda. I would have been more interested to hear the story either from Johnny's point of view or Miranda's mother. 

Overall, this was a good listen to. I found it eerie how similar the events were to what was happening in the real world during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The characterization was not to my liking this time. I rate it: 3.5 stars. 

No comments:

Post a Comment