Life As We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer has a pretty exciting premise. A highly anticipated asteroid show ends up colliding with the moon and pushing it out of its orbit and closer to the Earth, causing all sorts of calamity.
I think my favorite part by far is the beginning, where everyone is hotly anticipating how cool it will be to see an asteroid hit the moon, and then instead it ruins their lives.
I particularly enjoy how NO ONE, none of the scientists, no doomsday cults, no southern Baptists are predicting that a huge asteroid colliding with the moon–one so large that it can be viewed by the naked eye–is going to end in disaster. Everyone is like, ‘ooohh moon party at my house!’
I can guarantee you if an asteroid was predicted to hit the moon in my neighborhood, my mamma would be stockpiling ammunition and canned goods. Which is what these stooges should have been doing we quickly discover.
As I assume you know, the moon is kind of a big deal. It does lots of shit here on earth that we are accustomed to having a certain way. So when the moon gets knocked all wonky it’s not too long before we’ve got monster tsunamis destroying the coastlines, fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. etc.
I assume it messes up everyone’s periods too. The moon controls those right?
Anyway the book is written diary style by high school student Miranda. I’m not a big fan of diary-style to begin with, but I’m REALLY not a big fan of Miranda’s diary.
First of all, my major problem with this style of novel is that no one–not even folks with tons of time on their hands because the moon has destroyed their social lives–writes that detailed of diary entries, describing long conversations between multiple people. I don’t keep a diary anymore but when I did in high school I was pretty good at summarizing.
Secondly, Miranda bitches and moans about the stupidest things. She has to constantly be reminded that the moon is jacked up and that they’re all probably going to die. Let’s put it in perspective Miranda. Yes it is sad that prom is cancelled, but on the other hand about a million people died today. Yes you haven’t had chocolate in a few months, but on the bright side you haven’t drowned.
And she CONTINUES like that for the whole book. Like she constantly forgets that the sun is blocked by ash and that they’ll probably be in an ice age for like 20 years. The whole tone of the book insinuates that if the family can just survive the winter, everything will be all right.
On top of all this, Miranda and her family laugh a lot. Never chuckle, or giggle, or chortle. But just ‘then we all laughed.’
‘Mom said something funny and we all laughed.’
‘The cat fell off the table and we all laughed.’
‘The moon exploded and we all laughed.’
I feel like an editor should have noticed that. It’s grating.
So back to the plot line. Never has an asteroid disaster been so boring. With all the tsunamis and volcanoes you’d think there’d be at least a hint of excitement but nope. Miranda and her family basically hunker down next to their fireplace for the next 300 pages and argue about tuna fish.
Miranda’s mother had the foresight to take out a few thousand dollars from the ATM the day after the asteroid collision and they stock up at the grocery store. Luckily, half the world dying off and/or being destroyed doesn’t seem to have affected the economy AT ALL.
Oh sure, they have to pay cash for things, and wait in line at the gas station. But Miranda’s mom’s few thousand dollars lasts them the entire year, and is never seems to run out. There’s no mention of growing inflation, or the fact that in a couple short weeks of the WORLD COLLAPSING, money would immediately become worthless and people would instead be bartering with actual goods. Miranda’s mother is supposedly a writer, but there’s never a mention of her job ending, or anyone’s job ending. THE POST OFFICE CONTINUES TO OPERATE. Sure, they eventually stop delivering everyday, and then need volunteers but seriously?? I can’t even get someone to help me at the Post Office NOW.
And the hospital continues to operate until everyone dies of the flu. Who is paying these people?? Aetna?
Luckily, everyone in Miranda’s town has great manners because no one is going on a rampage with shotguns, robbing people for food or medicine. Oh sure, it’s not ‘safe’ to ride your bicycle through town at night, but only if your a young girl. And a ‘gang’ of wild boys are on the loose, doing crazy things like stealing wood off of abandoned storefront windows!
It’s the tamest anarchy I’ve ever seen.
Apparently this is a series, which eased my mind a bit because otherwise I thought that the end of the book was just ‘oh the government gave us a couple bags of free food so now we’re saved!’ I honestly kept expecting a rocketship to be deployed to push the moon back into place. I mean, why not, I assume this story was written in the fifties or something.
In conclusion–I’ve had more exciting rainstorms than this moon disaster.