The Dead and the Gone is the sequel to Life As We Knew It, first book in the Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer. While the plot is generally the same (moon gets knocked closer to Earth and disaster follows), the characters and location are completely different. I suppose this would be more of a “companion novel” than a true sequel. Since the plot of this book is so much like Life As We Knew It, I will spend most of my time comparing the books instead of describing this one. Here is the inside-front-cover-flap summary:
When life as Alex Morales had known it changed forever, he was working behind the counter at Joey’s Pizza. He was worried about getting elected as senior class president and making the grades to land him in a good college. He never expected that an asteroid would hit the moon, knocking it closer in orbit to the earth and catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. He never expected to be fighting just to stay alive.
Alex Morales is a 17-year-old Puerto Rican New Yorker thrust into the role of head of the family when NYC is devastated by tidal waves. His father was in Puerto Rico when the tsunamis hit and all anyone knows is that most of the islands are now underwater. His mother was working at the hospital in Queens and he hasn’t heard from her since the subways flooded, and he fears the worst. His older brother Carlos is with the Marines somewhere, and his two younger sisters are counting on him to keep them alive in a terrifying time.
This book is very different from Life As We Knew It. Life As We Knew It was told in a journal-entry style, and this one is just Alex’s narrative. Although, considering the story was organized by dates (like the journal entries) and everything was told in Alex’s voice, it read almost the same way as the first book. But Alex has a very different experience living in an apartment in New York than the Pennsylvania countryside of the first book. Alex and his sisters continue to go to school throughout the crisis, and being unable to grow food or stock up before winter hits, Alex must find things to trade for food on the black market. Alex has to do pretty horrible things, like steal shoes from dead bodies, so he can get food for himself and his sisters. All the while, he must deal with a 13-year-old sister he does not get along with, and a 15-year-old sister who refuses to leave New York for safety, believing her parents will return and look for them.
My biggest problem with this book was that I didn’t like Alex. He was a very arrogant and chauvinistic male. He was horrible to his sisters, even when he was trying to help them he couldn’t find a way to be nice to them. Overall, the book was OK and I liked it enough, but that was mostly because I liked the plot and seeing the difference between how Miranda lived in her mansion in the country and how Alex was forced to survive in a New York apartment–and how different it was for the rich living in New York–was interesting. The scene where Alex was forced to look through corpses in Yankee Stadium for the body of his mother was particularly powerful. Many parts of this book were slow and repetitive, though. Obviously I had mixed feelings, haha, hating Alex but liking the general idea. I think in the next book, Alex and Miranda somehow meet. I’m intrigued to see how that works out, and I am emotionally invested in Miranda and I want to see what happens to her next.