I doubt this one will need much introduction for most of you! It is, of course, the second book in Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Last Survivors series. I reviewed the first book, Life as we Knew it, last year, and loved it.
Other books demanding attention though, has meant it has taken me a while to get around to buying and reading this companion novel.
It’s not a direct sequel, as while the main events stay the same (the moon getting hit and the resulting catastrophic effects.) But this book has all new characters and takes the story from Miranda’s small town community, right into the huge metropolis heart of New York City.
This time we follow teenager Alex Morales, as he struggles to keep his sisters alive, as life in the city begins to collapse. On the day of the disaster, Alex’s father is out of the country and his mother is across the city working at a hospital.
While it takes Alex and his sisters time to accept it (although one of them never does) it soon becomes clear, whatever has happened to their parents, they aren’t coming home, leaving siblings to cope as best as they can.
While food remains scarce throughout this one, just as it did in the first, I never got the same feeling of starvation as in the first book. I think that is because whilst the city is falling apart, there is still a real (and an ‘underground’) infrastructure there, which at least in the beginning, keeps the schools, churches etc. open.
The horror of what Alex and his sisters are living though, comes more from what the reality of living in a city that is dying, and what they eventually have to do once food supplies do start to run out.
You see, whilst schools and the like may be open, non-essential services are not running, and when people die, there is no one to move the bodies, they stay where they fall, and people are dying in their thousands…
One day Alex learns of a black market trade, watches, wallets, shoes and coats can all be traded for food, if you know where to get such things. Not all the bodies Alex robs from, are freshly deceased as he would prefer…
I really liked the direction Ms Pfeffer took in this one, don’t get me wrong, Alex and his sisters are by no means well fed or even fed anywhere near enough! However, another book of watching people just wither away, just would not have been as interesting to read.
Keeping that element there and just exploring it from a slightly different direction, was one of my favourite things in the book, which I liked almost as much as the first.
There was just one thing missing for me, and that well in a city where millions are dying and are desperate to survive, I would have expected Alex to be regularly mugged when he walks home with a bag of food from the hand-out center. Alex having to occasionally fight to be able to clear a body of anything useful. It happens one early on, but then never really happens again. I just would have expected more civil disobedience.
Though to be fair, this is something I have though more about, after reading the book than whilst I was reading it.