Title: This World We Live in
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“In the year that has passed since a meteor collided with the moon, Miranda’s friends and neighbors have died, the landscape has frozen, and food has become increasingly scarce. The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.”
Thoughts: This World We Live in is the finale in Life As We Knew It series. Unfortunately, it is also an example of a series that just runs out of steam as the story progresses. The first book was amazing; the second was less so, mostly because I did not care for Alex as the main character. This third one combines those elements I least liked about the whole series into one novel. It makes for a lackluster ending to a series that started so well.
One gets the distinct impression that Ms. Pfeffer had no idea how to end the novel, as it ends rather abruptly. Through hindsight, one realizes that this is not a novel in which there will be a happily ever after for Alex or Miranda. It is not as if the moon will miraculously be knocked back into place in the span of a year. However, unlike other post-apocalypse novels, there is not even the modicum of hope upon which the reader can feel satisfied. As the story progresses, the situation goes from bleak to worse, and it is almost as if Ms. Pfeffer wrote herself into a corner where she could either end the novel or kill off all the characters. Understandably, she chose the former even though it feels rushed and forced.
Alex remains as unlikeable as he was in The Dead and the Gone. He is still infuriatingly righteous and stubborn. The romance that springs up between Miranda and Alex also does not sit well. The relationship seemingly forms out of nowhere, as there are none of the normal signs that the two are becoming attracted to each other, yet feels horribly predictable because there is little else to cause tension between the two main characters and tie the two stories in the series together. It is a relationship which I could never fully support, which distanced me greatly from the overall story.
The one saving grace of the story is that the reader finally gets a bigger glimpse of life outside of Miranda’s small world. Through the travellers’ stories and Miranda’s own trip, the reader can get a feel for the devastation of the United States wrought by the moon’s displacement and how other parts of the country were coping with the disaster. This larger picture creates a greater impression upon the reader than any of Miranda’s philosophizing or Alex’s stubbornness.
This lackluster third novel is truly disappointing given the freshness and excitement of the first novel. I suspect that if I had cared a bit more about Alex and Julie and eventually about Miranda and her entire family, I may have been more emotionally involved with This World We Live in. Sadly, by the time the novel ended, I honestly did not care anymore, causing me to ignore the fabricated emotional connections that were supposed to make it a powerful story. It is unfortunate because I did care about Miranda in the beginning. Sometimes, stories should not be forced into series. This World We Live in is one example of this.