Review – The Dead and the Gone

The Dead and the Gone – Susan Beth Pfeffer

pub. 2008, 308 pgs.

From the book jacket –

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 to 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.

Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It enthralled and devestated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event from a small-town perspective.  Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of a seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican New Yorker.  When Alex’s parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland.

With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.

My thoughts –

While this novel is about the same events as was Life As We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone is a much different book.  It is darker, scarier, and feels more real.  Even though I really enjoyed the first one, I have to say that I think this companion is even better.  Even though it is a lot more haunting and troubling, I think it follows more closely what would actually happen if something like this did occur in real life.  Something I really liked about this book that wasn’t present in the first one is Pfeffer’s discussion of class.  The Morales family lived in an apartment building that the father maintained, but because Alex had received some sort of scholarship (I think), he went to a private Catholic high school, so the majority of his friends had plenty of money.  Therefore, many of the people he knew had no problem getting out of New York (it was stated quite explicitly that money and connections can get you anywhere), while Alex and his sisters were forced to stay behind.  Class differences aren’t often mentioned in fiction, and I definitely think that if this nightmare were to happen in real life, class differences would make a HUGE difference in whether you lived or died.  So it was nice to see Pfeffer recognize something like that.

Another blogger mentioned that he/she (can’t remember who it was…) felt that the overall premise of these two books was somewhat lacking because if this were to happen in real life, most likely some scientist somewhere would have predicted that an asteroid hitting the moon would have consequences for the earth, and precautions would have been taken before the catastrophe could occur.  I do think that blogger is correct, so I was somewhat bugged by that while reading this book, but I forced myself not to think about it and just focus on the story.  Awesome story, somewhat shaky premise, excellent writing, great characters… overall a really solid book, one that I’m happy to recommend.

8.5 stars.

Also reviewed by Becky at Becky’s Book Reviews.


8 thoughts on “Review – The Dead and the Gone”

  1. I’ve been meaning to read both of these books for a while, but never seem to get around to it. One of my co-workers told me about a scene in the Yankees Stadium. Thanks for the review.

  2. I am reading the first one right now, and so far its very compelling. i think its a wonderful read and am now inspired to read the novel this summer. See im reading it as a book for school and i just got it last week. Thanks!

  3. I’ve read both of these books, and I love them both. When her next book of the series, This World We Live In, comes out on March 31, I know I’m going to pick it up right away.


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