The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

The Dead and the Gone (The Last Survivors, Book 2)An asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, and every conceivable natural disaster occurs. Seventeen-year-old Alex Morales's parents are missing and presumed drowned by tsunamis. Left alone, he struggles to care for his sisters Bri, 14, and Julie, 12. Things look up as Central Park is turned into farmland and food begins to grow. Then worldwide volcanic eruptions coat the sky with ash and the land freezes permanently. People starve, freeze, or die of the flu. Only the poor are left in New York—a doomed island—while the rich light out for safe towns inland and south. 

--Description courtesy of Amazon.com


This is the second book in the Last Survivors trilogy. I recently read the first book in the series, Life As We Knew It, and while I finished the book in a state of rather morbid depression, at the same time I couldn't put it down. I had similar expectations of this installment of the series, but unfortunately, I didn't find it as compelling a read.

Alex is a likable enough character. Over the course of the book, Alex is forced to make some hard decisions to care for his remaining family, and sometimes has to do grisly, horrific tasks simply to survive. Through it all, he relies on his devout catholicism to help him keep his strength and wits about him.

One aspect I found particularly jarring, especially in the beginning, is Alex's faith. In the first few chapters I felt I was reading a book on the benefits of catholicism; I don't care to be preached to, and this caused me to get into the book more slowly than I had in Life As We Knew It. Towards the middle of the book, though, the religious parts seemed to taper off, and the ones that were present were more in line with the story and less noticeable.

Of his two sisters, Bri is the calm, sweet one who tries to care for everyone, yet needs the most protection. Julie, the youngest, is the selfish, spoiled baby of the family. I found Julie's development over the course of the tragedy to be the most interesting - she starts out as a terror and trial to Alex, but slowly grows into his biggest ally, someone he can truly depend on.

I'm not sure what to expect of the third book in the series, This World We Live In. I will be reading it because I hate to leave a trilogy unfinished, and I think it will be interesting when the characters from the 1st and 2nd books meet. The series premise itself it puts me in mind of a train wreck: you know it's a disaster, you know it's horrifying, but you just have to look anyway and see what's happened.

If you like light and happy fiction, then this series is probably not for you; however, if you are a fan of science fiction with a twist of gritty realism, you will enjoy it.


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