The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Series: Last Survivors #2
Pages/Length: 8 hours and 50 minutes
Narrator: Robertson Dean
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Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event--an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex's parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.
On the story...
In many ways this book is better than the first but I strongly dislike more things in this one as well. The book skips the build up to the moon being hit and gets right to the consequences. I feel like The Dead and the Gone is less depressing than The World as we Knew it though tons of bad things happened. Things moved along much faster. Because I knew from the previous book some of the upcoming events that would occur, I was more alert and curious about how Alex would deal with these events. I also wanted to know how these events would play out in New York. Because of this, this book is a bit more adventurous and exciting. I was not disappointed either. Everything was unpredictable. I was intrigued from beginning to the end. It felt so real.
I loved all the characters with the exception of Alex. There was such growth in his sisters as the story went along and I loved the characters that Alex met and befriended. There were moments that I disliked Alex and many more moments where his actions were chauvinistic and archaic. This came from a bigger problem though.
Ms. Pfeffer took on a few issues in this installment. We get a lens into Puerto Rican culture, the Catholic faith, and the separation between those who have and those who do not. The perspective of Puerto Rican culture and the Catholic faith seemed a little forced and stereotypical at times, making Alex come across in the ways previously mentioned. I commend Ms. Pfeffer for taking on such issues and creating diversity in her books though. I think it went well for the most part, but it did result in a very off-putting character. I think the look at the difference between the elite and others came off quite well. It seemed real and it wasn't as in your face as the culture components. The second installment of this series added an extra dimension to the tragedy.
On the Narrator...
Mr. Dean had an extremely deep voice. While I liked his voice, it didn't sit well for a YA boy. And his voices for the girls were as good as they could be with such a deep voice. They didn't sound like girls. I think Mrs. Dean's voice contributed to some of my feelings toward Alex. When Alex said something overbearing to his sisters, it came across extra aggressive and callous. I would listen to Mr. Dean narrate other books though.
I enjoyed this book more than the first, I think. It is a close one.
I'm not sure that I'll finish the trilogy though. Since book two gave an additional perspective, there was little progress on the actual disaster. I have little hope that much progress will occur because of Ms. Pfeffer's writing style that tends to focus on the day-to-day details and because there is only one book left. I don't think I'll get what I want out of the third book. Plus, Alex and Miranda in the same book does not appeal to my sensitivity to teenage drama.
What about you, have you enjoyed a series but still refused to finish it? Or am I being crazy and sensitive? Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
P.S. This goes toward that Dystopia challenge that I committed to. I wasn't kidding when I said there were more to come. It'll start winding down soon though. One more to go :)