The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I was completely wowed (and frightened) by Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It.  This new novel is not a sequel, but rather another story about the same events, just experienced in a different location and by different people.  It’s amazing what a different story it makes.  Although I don’t have a post for Life as We Knew It, I do reference it in my post about The Road.  In case you didn’t know, I’m about the only person in America who hated The Road, and I said I much preferred some other post-apocalyptic YA novels to it.  After reading The Dead and the Gone I’ve decided that I simply have to stop reading any of these books.  Seriously. They haunt me and I can’t stop thinking of them.  I had trouble going to sleep when I finished it, the next night I had a dreadful dream, and I’ve already thought it through and told my mother that if some horrific event occured (and cars didn’t run) I would not be able to go get her, but would have to leave her.  I’ve also thought of which canned goods I would stock up on (if I had the choice.)

But enough about my obsessive dwelling and on to the book….

The catastrophic event is that the moon has been knocked close to the earth by an asteroid.  This causes tidal waves, floods, wipes out coastlines and islands, causes volcanic explosions which leads to a smothering layer of ash which causes the Earth to get very cold.  There’s really no good way to recover from that. In the first book the girl lived in the suburbs, but in this book Alex, a teenage boy, lives in Manhattan. His experience, as a city dweller, is entirely different.  For one thing, there are a lot more dead bodies.  For another thing, the infrastructure takes a little longer to break down, but it does.  Also, Alex is a devout Catholic and his faith and reliance on the church really shape his survival.

Although these novels gave me nightmares, they were so well written and so thought provoking. I highly recommend them!


2 thoughts on “The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

  1. This is one I can’t wait to read. I loved Life As We Knew It, even though, yeah, it terrified me. I have a hard time reading about the Holocaust- fictional stories are easier to read, but history and memoirs give me nightmares. Reading too much about Vietnam gives me nightmares (my high school history class that I took over one summer to get it out of the way, THAT was fun…It was US history and had a huge section on the Vietnam war. I didn’t sleep for weeks), and I had some doozies while reading about the Cambodian genocide a few years ago. But I keep on reading those kinds of books, because A., it’s important to learn about these things, to pass on the knowledge and awareness so that it doesn’t happen again, and B., I have a lot of nightmares anyway, about random things that don’t even make sense, lol, so really, what’s one or two more.

  2. I’m the mother Sarah is abandoning. She is right. I remember reading these types of books when I was young and had small children (one of whom was Sarah) I too would have bad dreams or spend time planning out what I would do. You really should just worry about your own personal family (husband and kids). One of the nicer things about getting old is reading a book like this and knowing that you don’t have to worry. Your children are grown and are taking care of their children. You have lived your life, so if it is time for you to go, so be it. I didn’t like the second book as much, although it did show the huge cultural differences between the families. Alex’s protection of the “females” in his family and the reliance on the church and God by all is always hard for an atheist to understand. Abandoned MOM (only kidding)

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