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The Dead and the Gone Paperback – January 18, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—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. The wooden, expository dialogue and obvious setup of the first pages quickly give way to the well-wrought action of the snowballing tragedy. The mood of the narrative is appropriately frenetic, somber, and hopeful by turns. Pfeffer's writing grows legs as the terrifying plot picks up speed, and conversations among the siblings are realistically fluid and sharp-edged. The Moraleses are devout Catholics, and though the church represents the moral center of the novel, Pfeffer doesn't proselytize. The characters evolve as the city decomposes, and the author succeeds in showing their heroism without making them caricatures of virtue. She accurately and knowingly depicts New York City from bodegas to boardrooms, and even the far-fetched science upon which the novel hinges seems well researched. This fast-paced, thoughtful story is a good pick for melodrama fiends and reluctant readers alike.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* In Life as We Knew It (2005), veteran writer Pfeffer painted a terrifying picture of what happened in a rural Pennsylvania town after an asteroid hit the moon and cataclysmic changes on land and sea caused familiar life to grind to a halt. For readers who wondered if things were any better in a bustling city, here is the horrifying answer. On the night the moon tilts, 17-year-old Alex and his younger sisters are alone; their mother is at work, and their father is visiting Puerto Rico. No matter how the kids wish, hope, and pray, their parents don’t return. It’s up to Alex to do what’s best. At first that means bartering for food and batteries and avoiding fighting with the rambunctious Julie—especially after sickly Bri is sent to live at a rural convent. Later it means rescuing Julie from rapists and steering her away from the corpses that litter the street, providing food for rats. Religion is one of the strong threads running through the novel. It would have been interesting to see Alex wrestle more with his staunch Catholicism, but in many ways, the Church anchors the plot. The story’s power, as in the companion book, comes from readers’ ability to picture themselves in a similiar situation; everything Pfeffer writes about seems wrenchingly plausible. Grades 8-12. --Ilene Cooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Though this book centers on the faith that Alex and his family are devoted to, it was okay as there are a lot of people in the world and how they choose to believe affects how they see the world. But that and the misogynistic viewpoint of this faith and cultural leanings leads us to see a male who feels he must be in charge and has no compunction of hitting his sisters whose only reason to be on this earth was to cook and clean for the male. I just couldn't abide by how he treated his sisters. I never got to where I liked him much at all. But, it is through his eyes we see what happens to the world as endures more disasters and recovery.
I had to return the Audible version of this book as the narrator's acting was horrible. The deep gravelly voice didn't fit the teen, either. I felt my text-to-speech did a better job. I didn't even attempt to buy the one for #4 for it is the same voice. A younger sounding voice with more pep would have been better.
Even still, this is a great series and I want it to continue from other points of view.
So imagine my shock when the narrative changed and I was suddenly hearing about Alex Morales. It was a challenge to adjust to an entire new family, as I had felt like I was part of Miranda’s family, having been with them from the start. Even more, it was challenging to start at the very beginning, right after the moon had been struck, knowing all the terrible things that were to come. Don’t get me wrong, “The Dead & The Gone” was still very good. It was interesting to experience everything from a different perspective, in a different location, with different people and be able to compare their individual journeys. But I will admit (SPOILER ALERT) that the Morales’ journey was even more trying and heartbreaking, in the end. Nevertheless, the entire concept upon which this series resides is extremely interesting, and I will most definitely continue reading the remaining books.
On to the next one!
New York goes to hell in a handbasket; death rises around the protagonists like one of the super-tides pulled by the moon. The collision that pushes the moon closer to the earth takes place in mid-May. By mid-July bodies are being left on the street in the Upper West Side. The last delivery of emergency rations to that part of Manhattan takes place on December 9. The last day chronicled is December 29, by which time New York is almost completely abandoned, as opposed to Howell, Pennsylvania, which still had between a quarter and a sixth of its pre-collision population the following March. Things are worse for Alex than for Miranda because while her family had an enormous stockpile of food, his must leave the house constantly to get food.
I thought both the role of both violence and religion during a period of social breakdown were depicted more realistically in this book than in the first, which is the reason I give this book a full five stars. Alex's family is deeply religious and their faith sustains them both literally (they are fed at the parochial school they attend) and spiritually. God and His representatives on earth become the only people Alex can talk to about what he is going through, as he tries to protect his sisters from the full implications of what is happening. Alex's first sister rarely leaves the house after an ill-fated attempt to join a convent, but his second sister becomes a target of men with base desires and nothing to lose by fulfilling them. You know society hasn't completely broken down, however, because social class becomes even more important than it previously was, with the rich and well-connected not having to creep past dead bodies all the time in their part of New York (apparently Midtown), foreshadowing the fourth book, in which (the reviews tell us) a rigid caste system has set in in Tennessee.
Book 3, "This World we Live In," brings together the surviving characters from Book 1 and Book 2 and I can't wait to read it. Fortunately, I ordered all of the last three books in the series at the same time from Amazon, so I don't have to. Five stars.