243 of 318 people found the following review helpful
Thank goodness for the magic bag of food!,
This review is from: Life As We Knew It (Life As We Knew It Series) (Paperback)
I am sorry to say I thought this was one of the worst books I have ever read. This is really a shame because the premise of the book is fantastic, and the cover art just begs you to read it. I love me a dystopian/end of the world/get some food storage book, so I was all curled up on a Friday night ready to enjoy. I am sorry to say that in my humble opinion, it was a poorly thought out, ridiculous book.
First of all, Ms. Pfeffer is obviously a very angry liberal. Now to my liberal friends, don't get your dander up, I am not critiquing liberals in general. I am just saying that no matter what your angry politics are, it is a mistake to use them as a platform for your book unless you are a dang good writer, which Pfeffer is not. Let me give you some examples. The President in this novel is very obviously George W. Bush. I don't know why she doesn't just come out and say it or what the point is in trying to oh so cleverly disguise it. The author loves to get her digs in when it comes to conservatives. The problem with this is that it prevents you from suspending your disbelief. You feel like you hear the author's voice rather than a 16-year old teen. For example, the world is falling apart, tsunamis have destroyed the east coast, CNN had lost it's feed, but they won't watch FOX news because it's FOX news. Seriously? Then, throughout the book the mother calls the President "Idiot" all through the book...even when he gets food to them when they are days away from starving. About the third time you think, okay, we've got the point, you hate George Bush. Let it go now, for the sake of your book. The next thing Pfeffer hates is anyone religious. Anyone in this book who prays or believes in God is a bona fide delusional idiot and she portrays them this way any chance she can get. They say things like, "I don't need food, God will fill me." Anyone religious in the book is a mean-spirited, judgemental, repent-you-sinners caricature. Really though, both of Miranda's friends are caricatures: the Crazy Christian and the Selfish Skank.
I probably could have dealt with this if the plot holes weren't so big you could drive a truck through them. In Pfeffer's dystopian world everyone starves politely. There is no looting, no depravity. There are no roving gangs, no one begging for food, no one. The family stays in their home for a year with no one coming to their door until the end when one man asks for some Tylenol. The author never mentions neighbors. There are no safety concerns. The mom lets her teenage daughter just wander around the streets. No problems with armed people. No people walking the interstates, etc. This was so unbelievable. In fact nothing much happens the whole book. They live in their sunroom and watch their food dwindle, and that's pretty much it. No plots, twists, or turns. The people in Pfeffer's society basically think, "Aw heck, guess we're going to die. I'll just lie in my bed and watch my children go. No sense bothering anyone or desperately trying to find food." In her book, no one ransacks a house until the owners die and nearby family takes what they want first. This is not any kind of official mandate, just an unspoken rule. So thoughtful!
It's almost like Pfeffer started the end of the world but then choked -- couldn't close the deal. It's like it's doomsday lite: The positive version! Deaths in this book are nameless and faceless. Suffering is distant--it happens to others, but not her family. Her brother makes it home somehow from upstate NY, no one in her family dies or seriously injures themselves. The only death you witness is the elderly friend who dies of natural causes in a painless and typically polite manner.
Other hard to believe things: The east coast has gone, earthquakes rip through the country, volcanoes erupt, the sun is obscured by ash and the world goes into permanent winter, the police lock the doors and disappear, but the school board meets and decides to keep schools open!! Yes, spontaneous lightning storms are killing people left and right, but darn if the kids don't go to school! That's because God isn't important but higher education is! So you might be starving to death, but at least you know you could have gotten into Cornell. I know I personally would have no problem watching my small children walk all alone through possible death to get to school each day.
Also, anyone who has read any type of end-of-the-world scenario knows the hospital is the last place you want to go once there is no electricity or running water. They run rampant with staph and deadly bacteria. But not here! The hospital is up and running the entire time. And the east coast is gone, Alaska, and California, but there is still internet access whenever the electricity is on.
The mother in the book constantly drills into her children's head that you don't help anyone. Don't tell anyone that supplies have come. When Miranda tells a friend of hers that they are giving out food her Mom berates her for it. Then the family fights and screams hateful things at each other the entire time. The main character in the book, Miranda, is a total brat who yells at her mom because her mom won't let her eat whatever she wants. It made it hard to like these characters or really care about them.
One of the only plot twists is that a form of virulent flu comes to town. We're talking 1918 flu. Anyone still alive basically dies. Except for our heroine's family. They all get terribly sick, but even when everyone else is decimated, and all of the hospital staff except two dies, they are miraculously fine. Too bad it didn't take the Idiot president! Oh, and we find out Yellowstone volcano blows up, but Texas and all states nearby are fine except for a little ash. Anyone who has turned on the Discovery Channel in the last ten years knows that if that volcano in Yellowstone goes, half the continent does as well. It's as if the author was too lazy to do any real research at all.
The book's ending almost made me laugh out loud. Our heroine walks down the empty street one day, expecting to die as there is no more food. But hark! She finds a piece of paper that says the city hall is open! She goes down there right before they close (because you always keep regular hours when the world is ending) and finds out the government is handing out a bag of food from now on each Monday. Where does this food come from? Does it drop out of the sky? Was it trucked in even though there is no gas anywhere? Is it magic food since she has already told us that the factories are destroyed and crops failed everywhere? And how convenient that City Hall is open since we've been told the police, postal office, government officials are all gone. Did a nice receptionist greet her at the door? Did they help her get a new social security card while they're at it? Who cares! The government took care of everyone and the book is over.
Apparently from the number of stars this book has received I am one of the few people who feel this way. So read the book if you'd like and then use it for toilet paper. Unless TP comes in the magic government bag of food that arrives right in the nick of time!
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Showing 1-10 of 61 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 10, 2011 3:38:39 PM PST
LOL This review is awesome. I love it.
Posted on Mar 18, 2011 5:41:59 PM PDT
Caitie Jean says:
I love you so much for this review. I really reaaaally do. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Made my day.
Posted on Jun 21, 2011 9:58:11 AM PDT
Lisa Osman says:
I think the problem is that those of us who realize just how unbelievably bad this book is never read it all the way to the end and therefore do not feel like we can review it.
You have verified my feelings that this isn't going to get any better. Thank you for all the hours I saved and the delightful rant!
Posted on Aug 17, 2011 8:58:58 AM PDT
L. Hosman says:
Thoughtful review. But, I think since this is for young adults (I am thinking younger than 18) that their thought processes are still in the developing stage and would not think so deeply about such obvious things as you pointed out - just kind of basically skimming the reality of what took place.
Posted on Sep 29, 2011 10:08:17 AM PDT
J. Roden says:
This is a great review! I am now about a third of the way through and have already come to these conclusions- but I keep thinking it must get better, somehow. Apparently not. You are saving me from spending any more time on this lousy book! Thank you!!
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 30, 2011 1:23:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 30, 2011 1:24:47 PM PDT
In reply to L. Hosman, I understand what you're saying, and I do think you have a point. However, I don't think we should ever dumb down literature for our kids. Look at the Harry Potter books, fabulous literature with weighty themes where characters have to choose right and wrong in heavy situations. They are written the way youth literature should be, in my opinion.
Everyone else who has commented, thanks so much for your posts. I thought I was seriously the only one on the planet who felt this way. Looks like we'll be the ones who make it when the moon is knocked off! ;)
Posted on Nov 21, 2011 4:02:30 PM PST
Darryl King says:
Great review. You just saved me loads of wasted time. I have just purchased Hunger Games and had a few people (much younger than me) recommend this as well. But i think I'll pass. Again, thanks for the review
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 11, 2011 9:46:34 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 11, 2011 9:51:16 PM PST
In reply to Lisa Osman, you are so right! I had to quit halfway through because I disliked the book (and characters) so much. After returning it to the library I went on Amazon to find out if I really missed anything.
Posted on Dec 21, 2011 9:02:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on May 7, 2012 9:12:37 PM PDT
Wow...thanks for preventing me from buying this book for my sons!! Yergh! FOX news is bad? Really? W. is a bad President? Unlike our current one, who is single-handedly trying to dismantle Western civilization all by himself?? Sorry, I don't like icky politics in my books, either.
My boys were on a zombie kick for a while. All zombie books have the world coming to an end because of a hideous virus that causes humans to turn into cannibalistic, room-temperature, purge-fluid-spouting monsters. If you want to read a book about the End of the World, read World War Z, I Zombie I, or After the Apocalyse (really a collection of short stories about the end of the world, only some of which involve zombies). These are actually quite good. I'm nearer to fifty than to forty, and too old to waste any part of my life on nonsense books...especially since my eyesight is getting worse by the second and I will need reading glasses the size of the Hubbell Telescope pretty soon. I digress. But not all the way. .
And if the Yosemite Caldera blows up, it's the end of life as we know it, even in Australia. People in North America will just die faster.
I'm glad my children did not read such a Gilligan's-Island-like story.
Posted on Jan 5, 2012 2:34:32 PM PST
Silvina Bowman says:
Thanks for sparing me the $3.25 I was going to spend to buy the kindle version!!