Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer | Book Review

The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
First Published: 2013
Kindle
Young Adult, Dystopia
Rating: 
Re-Readability: 
The eagerly awaited addition to the series begun with the New York Times best-seller Life As We Knew It, in which a meteor knocks the moon off its orbit and the world changes forever.
It's been more than two years since Jon Evans and his family left Pennsylvania, hoping to find a safe place to live, yet Jon remains haunted by the deaths of those he loved. His prowess on a soccer field has guaranteed him a home in a well-protected enclave. But Jon is painfully aware that a missed goal, a careless word, even falling in love, can put his life and the lives of his mother, his sister Miranda, and her husband, Alex, in jeopardy. Can Jon risk doing what is right in a world gone so terribly wrong?
Part One - Prick Jon
While this book is probably my second favorite in the series, it's also the one with which I had the most complicated relationship with. 

For the majority of the first half of the novel, I hated it. Not the novel itself, per se, but the reality it was portraying. I felt angry while reading this novel, which I think was very intentional, because our protagonist, Jon, was appalling with his flawed and aggravating thought process, degrading his own family to, essentially, sub-humans. Feeling entitled when he should've been a "grub" himself. Doing all those awful things to be part of the elite, even while he knows they will never truly regard him as one of them. I wanted to literally smack some sense into him on more than one occasion.

First-Half Jon was a big, fat prick.

So, yeah, I wasn't too thrilled about that. And if that's not enough, we have yet another insta love in this installment, this time between Jon and a newbie named Sarah. A le sigh. At least this time I somehow shipped the two of them, even though they were fighting about 90% of the time.

And how could they not? Sarah was a lovable character who stood for what was right and wasn't afraid to say and do the hard things, and Jon was... still prick-Jon. And a prick-Jon who followed orders to keep his position (while still somehow thinking he's above everyone else), so I guess he needed to get a fix somewhere... I hope my bitter isn't showing too much.

The only upside to the first half of the novel was that I finally shipped Alex and Miranda. It took seeing their relationship through someone else's eyes and knowing in the back of my mind that they've been together for about three years at this point for me to finally buy it. Too bad the really interesting conflict between them happened off screen.

On the family front, two things happened. First, can we just talk for a second about how Hal deserved better than being a footnote in this story?? Second, Carlos is a major a-hole. In the last novels, I was kind of disappointed we didn't get to meet this character and judge him for ourselves, as he sounded kind of dick-ish, but I wasn't sure whether our image of him got distorted because we were reading Alex/Miranda's view of him. It wasn't it. He's just a dick.

Part Two - THANK GOD
Can I get an amen? the second half of the novel was wonderful. It made me love Jon--finally!--as his character developed and evolved, taking the blinders off and finally seeing. It made me cry my eyes out, smile, and respect everyone involved for being able to hold on to their hope even in the face of the worst of situations.

Warning: shit happens. Bad, bad shit. It was nice to see that while this novel wasn't about the end of the world but rather on re-building humanity... and how badly that endeavor could be screwed... this stayed the same. Or I mean, really really not nice but there you go. People die, and humans are proven to be the cruelest of animals, but so long as there are people who would fight and rebel for what's right, we can win. 

It was poignant, heartfelt, and somehow hopeful, making for a story I couldn't put down. 

Relationship Status: It's Complicated
The thing is, I'm really conflicted about this series as, well, a series. On the one hand, I kind of wish Pfeffer left it with just that first, perfect novel. Life as We Knew It worked, and arguably didn't need this saga it developed into. 

But at the same time, another part of me wants a fifth novel, about this new community and how things evolve from there, perhaps from Opal's pov, who is a character I feel was largely underutilized. 

And how could those two things exist in the same head at the same time is a complete mystery... 
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