Title: This World We Live In
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
ISBN: 9780547248042
Pages: 239 pages
Publisher/Date: Harcourt (an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company), c2010.

“We came to see about the food,” Matt said. I could tell from his shaky voice he was near tears himself. “Is there any?”
Mr. Danworth nodded. “We’re not delivering anymore,” he said. “You can take your regular amount home with you today.”
“Do other people know?” I asked. “Or didn’t you tell anybody?” […]
“I’ll tell you what I know,” Mr. Danworth replied. “A lot of the big cities–New York, Philadelphia, even Washington–they’ve been shut down. New York, I know, was hit hard by the waves. I guess the other cities weren’t safe, either. But the cities were getting food deliveries until everybody got moved out. There was some food left over, and it’s being distributed to a handful of towns. It’s all connections, and we were lucky that Mayor Ford has some. His wife’s cousin is married to the governor. We got our share, maybe even more.” (16-17)

Miranda has been surviving with her two brothers and mother after the moon’s gravitational pull caused massive disasters and disruption around the world. While the rain has finally returned, and the instances of electricity seem to be increasing, the food deliveries have stopped and they must make a weekly trek into town for their rations. The family makes routine scouting trips to abandoned homes in search of forgotten supplies, but making an attempt for a larger city is starting to sound better and better. Then visitors, both known and new, stop at their house and challenge not only that idea, but also their beliefs in family, friendship, and the future.

The book says that it’s a companion novel for two previous books, Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone because the main characters of those two novels meet in this book. Although I haven’t read these other two books, I really didn’t miss anything. I actually found myself thinking that fans of Hunger Games might enjoy this book, as they share the same post-apocalyptic survival theme. While Hunger Games is more militant and political, This World We Live In is more homily, familial, and just… well, every day. I know that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering we’re talking about a post-apocalyptic scenario, but this book portrays a typical family and the lengths they would go to survive and keep each other alive.

The range of characters and emotions portrayed in this book is impressive. The reactions are raw and completely believable. Readers are introduced to older brother Matt who is intent on being the man that he feels he’s supposed to be, and Jon who doesn’t want to be left behind. Miranda is anxious to prove her worth but doesn’t know how and is limited in her ways. The whole family is isolated from the rest of the world, and while they question whether they would be better off in a larger community, they’re terrified of leaving what they’ve known behind. When disaster strikes towards the end of the book, it’s just as surprising and traumatic to readers as it is to the characters experiencing the events. That’s actually the best thing about this novel, is how thoroughly you’re pulled into the world Pfeffer has created, and even as she’s dedicated the book to “anyone who ever wondered what happened next,” you can’t help but continue to ask yourself “What next?”

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