Down The Book Cubbyhole

The Geeky Adventures of a Bookish Girl

the dead and the gone — Susan Beth Pfeffer

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New York City may be the greatest city in the world; still, could it prevail over a cataclysmic phenomenon that already brought turmoil all throughout the globe?

Alex doesn’t really know where Papi is, neither his Mami, nor his older brother Carlos. Subsequent to an astronomical event where an asteroid knocked the moon closer to the earth, peculiar things have been happening—intermittent supply of electricity, food riots, starvation, tidal waves on seaboards, floods, teeming rats, bodies dropping like flies, volcanic eruptions, dropping temperature in summer, ashes enveloping the sky. What he knows for sure is: he is now the man of the house. He must bring home the bacon.

Unlike the majority of those who reviewed this, it is very unlikely for me to make comparisons between the dead and the gone and its predecessor, Life as We Knew It. After all, only by odd chance did I get my hands on this book and I haven’t read the first book just yet.

Admittedly, I have a penchant for themes that covers anything apocalyptic, including post-apocalyptic ones. The idea haunts and terrifies me, mind you, yet I find them inveigling—what with all the inviting premises they behold—surely, fiends such as myself could not resist the temptation of flipping through their pages.

An asteroid falling into the earth is perchance one of the most hackneyed “end of the world” concepts as manifested by the media. A few of the movies I can still summon to mind were the 1998 films Armageddon and Deep Impact (I was 5 then, I think). Evidently, there were already rumors back then that the apocalypse would befall on the year 2000—but here we are, 12 years later, and the Doomsday angst still ensues.

Yet this novel doesn’t shy away from that mundane gist. However, Susan Beth Pfeffer managed to fabricate an ingenious scheme that explicitly veered from the stereotypical. Instead of the asteroid itself plummeting towards the earth, it knocked the moon closer to the planet. Hence, the moon’s gravitational influence towards the earth colossally magnified.

No matter how stupendous religion has played in this novel, specifically Catholicism, it is in no way executed in a proselytizing fashion. I think infusing religion is an astute maneuver in the author’s part, since in these kinds of situation; only faith will be our coadjutor towards survival.

Also, reading the first book, Life as We Knew It, isn’t a prerequisite to enjoy this one. Both novels can stand alone on their own. The former was told in the point of view of a girl living in a town in Pennsylvania whereas this one was told by a New Yorker boy. As stated above, I’ve been unfortunate enough to get a copy of the first book, yet I didn’t miss anything in here. Though of course, I am yearning to eventually read the first book some time.

On the contrary, some things don’t ring true in here. I am not acquainted with Puerto Rican traditional gender roles of ethnicity, be that as it may, but one’s ignorance in cooking macaroni is blatantly foolish. “It goes in a pot?” Yes mister, it does. Ask that again and your head goes into the pot. Honestly, I don’t really cook, but I know how certain stuff is done. I just don’t really know the right way to execute them. Once, my sister and I tried cooking pancakes for breakfast since no one is home, but ended up having ugly, crumpled pancakes instead. And they don’t even taste good. Yikes.

Breaking into the apartments of people who already fled, are in some ways, still considered stealing. But hey, it’s the apocalypse and they won’t come back, so either just keep the stuff or let them spoil. I think God will somehow understand because that’s called wanting to live.

I’m not really sure if that was intended or a typographical error, but I spotted something that had me baffled. It was Julie’s 13th birthday, I am aware, but there were 14 candles on her cake. (Yes, it’s the apocalypse and they still managed to throw a birthday party with cake.) If ever that was a mistake, a measly blunder could be forgiven.

Last time I checked, the moon is still right on its place. But heed this, if ever the moon gets any closer, lock your apartments, ‘cause I’ll be hoarding all of your good stuff.

 

Rating: ★★★✰✰

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