Thursday, January 5, 2017

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer | Book Review

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
First Published: 2010
Young Adult, Dystopia
It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans, life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is 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 the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.
First and foremost, let me say this - The World We Live In is not a bad novel by any stretch of imagination. But out of the four books in the Last Survivors saga, it's the one for which I have the most complaints. Mostly because it started so good.

Right from the get go, I loved being back in Miranda's mind. It felt like - yes, this is what I was missing in the last book. The thing that makes Miranda so attractive as a character to me is that, while she lives in a post-apocalyptic universe that forced her to grow up too fast... she's still a teenager - she still throws tantrums, she still gets angry for stupid reasons, she still feels jealous and irrational and all those things that come with being a teen. That is so real and captivating to me, because this is a character that started out in a normal world, and you can't un-learn or un-know all these things.

So it was off to a fantastic start, especially since the meeting and the beginning interactions between Miranda and Alex (and Julie) were pleasantly satisfying. I enjoyed the antagonistic relationship that developed between the two, especially because I honestly find the two of them to be such different people with Alex not being the easiest person to fall in love with, so it couldn't possibly have gotten down any other way.

Not to mention, Alex seems intent on making the worst impression possible in this novel. He's highhanded, stubborn, righteous and borderline jerk-ish. Especially now when we don't get any insight into his mind to soften his manner, and Alex is a pretty introverted.

So, yeah. Off to a wonderful start, with all the new characters joining the Evans household being interesting in their own right. So where did things go wrong? Simple - the INSTA LOVE.

Yes, this needed caps lock. God dammit, why did it have to rear it's ugly head in these novels?! And not one case of it... but two? Jeez. I ended up shipping Peter and Laura (Miranda's mother and her boyfriend) in book one ten times more than I ever did Alex and Miranda or Syl and Matt because it was far more based and made more sense than these two relationships ever did!

I understand searching companionship and comfort in such desperate times that you would be attracted to anyone who might give you that and not waste time about it. I get it. In fact, if any novel world could pull off insta love, it would be this one... except it didn't.

These people had no chemistry whatsoever. It was so perplexing to find them together and attracted to one another. That's never a good response to a book couple. But then there is also the element of them claiming they know each other better than anyone... when they really, really don't. I don't mind you starting to date. I could deal with the abrupt and unfathomable change from hating each other to eating each other's faces, for the reasons I mentioned before. But don't pretend you know each other. Don't tell me you're in love, because kissing does not equal love. Not when you failed to show me that in any other scene.

I wanted to ship this couple so very much. I've waited for their romance since I learned books one and two intersect in this way. We don't always get what we want.

And then... the ending happened. It kind of felt like Pfeffer suddenly remembered this was a post-apocalyptic, unstable, unfair world, and some bad shit had to go down and people had to die. So she went through all the natural disasters to find one she hadn't used and sicced it on our characters.

Now to clarify... I don't resent this happening. I'm okay with the meaningless deaths because the whole point of this novel, judging by the title, is "the world we live in". And... that's the kind of world they live in. It just kind of came out of nowhere, giving me whiplash. And I kind of, sort of, resent who she chose to kill. I don't want any of them dead, but a few are crueler than the other... and she sure chose the cruelest one.

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