Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer Review
Genre: Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic
SciFi Element: Apocalypse, Ecological Disaster
Series: The Last Survivors #1
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Never an easy read, Post-Apocalyptic dramas are something you should mentally prepare for. Yet, I could have never prepared myself for Pfeffer’s LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. Pfeffer’s first Survivor’s Novel was a heart-wrenching look into one families decent into their own private Hell. The POV is from Miranda, a sixteen year old girl as if she is writing in her diary, at no point throughout the story did I doubt I was reading Miranda’s words. Pfeffer’s unique storytelling ability and her gift of portraying real family drama makes LAWKI a tale that resonates in me. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time, in fact I think I might have to listen again. Pfeffer captured the essence of what life would be like in these circumstances and rubbed my nose it, no matter the consequences. I experienced the traumatic experiences with Miranda and hoped that if I was ever faced with trials such as these, that I would respond with as much courage as Miranda and her family did. The novel was touching, full of hope and yet heart-breaking. It hit so close to home as if it could be reality that I truly believed it could be happening. I learned some great life-lessons from this one, definitely put things in perspective. And, I also have to mention, that I listen to these audio books at work and I was literally sobbing at my desk. Made for some awkward at-work moments. After reading LAWKI I immediately downloaded The Dead and the Gone because I couldn’t leave this world behind.


An asteroid hitting the moon was of no consequence to Miranda as LIFE AS WE KNEW IT begins. Her teachers talk of it and the news reports on the impending impact, constantly, but to Miranda it is only a passing interest. Until it happens. The scientists were wrong. The asteroid must have been denser than they thought, the moon is now much closer to the Earth than before the asteroid hit. With this change massive ecological changes are raining down on the planet, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, violent storms. Communications are down, the population is in a panic. Thinking fast, Miranda’s mother grabs the kids from school and they go on a break-neck journey to secure as much food and supplies as they can get their hands on. It was a decision that saved their lives…because as the world falls apart around them, Miranda and her family are alone, in a world gone mad. The only ones that can help them are themselves. They could starve to death, they could freeze to death… they don’t know what the end will be, just as the food runs low, and the temperature drops, plagues, violence and more ecological disasters occur everyday, they pretty much know that death might be a lot sooner than later.

I’m still shivering just thinking about these books. I read all three back to back without breathing for three days in a row. My husband thought I was a lunatic by the end, and to be honest I thought I might have been on the edge of insanity. I don’t think I’ve ever been as emotionally involved with a group of characters. Maybe one or two out of a series, but I loved every single one of these. This is a novel you can’t put off reading, yes
there are some flaws, but the plot and emotional drama are so intense that you will look past all of it and just get immersed in the story. Read the books — then buy some non-genetically modified seeds and stock up on MREs, because you can never be too prepared.

I did mention some flaws, so I feel obligated to mention them. Ok, first one, while in diary form, it was believable, but really it didn’t strike me as how a young girl would write in her diary. There were moments when Pfeffer hit it on the head and I was like “Yeah, that is what I’m talking about.” But, there were other times where she used a bit of creative license and forced some plot through. Secondly, and it might be just me the Southerner, but some of the narration just struck me as too mature. It felt as if I was reading my grandmother’s journal instead of a modern teen’s journal. I’ve never heard someone (but my granny) say “I’ll grab my pocketbook.” Just phrases like that seemed out of touch with today’s youth. I have no problem with it…just thought I should mention it.

The narrator Emily Bauer did a wonderful job. Her voice held the innoncence and fear that I would have expected from Miranda and she conveyed the emotion that she needed too. She has also narrated Enclave, so I’m itching to download that one too…if my book doesn’t come in soon.

Fans of emotional dramas and books such as The Hunger Games should enjoy.  There was nothing to be worried about from a parental stand-point, the books are squeaky clean.

The 411:

  1. Ms. Pfeffer is currently conventionalizing a fourth Moon Book. She has been given the ok by her publisher and it is just up to her to come up with a viable and “sellable” plot.
  2. Ms. Pfeffer has another book releasing in a few months called BLOOD WOUNDS, it is not an Apocalypse book, more of a drama.