Category Archives: Post-war/apocalylptic/disaster

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Pfeffer, Susan Beth.  Life As We Knew It. Harcourt Children’s Books.  2006. ISBN 0152058265

 

Reader’s Annotation: When a meteor hits the moon and knocks its orbit closer to Earth Miranda and her family must prepare for the end of the world as they knew it.

Plot Summary: When a meteor knocks the moon out of its orbit it starts a series of tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters.  Soon the ash blocks the sun and the world enters an Arctic winter in the middle of Summer. Miranda and her family must find a way to survive as food and water begin to run out and things continue to get worse.

Critical Evaluation

This book will knock your socks off and have you wanting to rush out and create some sort of emergency supply stash the minute you finish the book.  It’s told through a series of journal entries made by Miranda as she, her mother and her two brothers are forced to hole up in their house.  As I read I would gaze around my own house wondering what would I do in each situation and would I survive such a catastrophe.  Miranda’s character was complicated and I alternated between sympathizing with her and thinking she was the biggest, most ungrateful brat with the way she reacts to her mother’s attempt to keep them all alive.

I think most readers will enjoy this book as it does play upon your imagination to put yourself in Miranda’s position.  While not a dystopian I think it will still appeal to many of those Hunger Game fans looking for something else to read.

About the author

Pfeffer was born in New York City in 1948 and published her first book, Just Morgan, in 1970.  Since then she has won numerous awards for her work which ranges from picture books to middle grade and young adult books.

Life As We Knew It made the ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults list in 2007 and was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award, the Quill Awards and the Hal Clement Award.

Genre

Fiction/Post-Apocalyptic

Curriculum Ties

English

Book talking idea

If you had just a few hours to grab necessities needed for survival what would you gather?

Reading level

Ages 14 and up.

Challenge Issues

N/A

Why did I include this book?

Like I mentioned above with the dystopian craze after the popularity with The Hunger Games there are many teens looking for other reading options.  While this is not a dystopian it is a very addictive read and does talk about a teenage girl’s journey to survive the unthinkable.

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Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Maberry, Jonathan.  Rot & Ruin. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.  2010. ISBN 1442402326

Reader’s Annotation: Benny Imura is forced to apprentice under the brother he despises as a zombie hunter. Little does he realize how much he will learn about what being brave and humane really means.

Plot Summary: In this post-apocalyptic America where zombis now infest most of America and people huddle within reinforced compounds every teenager has to find a job or have their rations cut in half.  Benny Imura is forced to apprentice as a zombie hunter under his older brother Tom who he despises as a coward who let their mother die.  Through his training he realizes that there is more to the story and that zombie hunting isn’t the fun and games he thought it would be.

Critical Evaluation

For readers going in expecting your typical hack and slash zombie book look elsewhere.  The world and characters Maberry weaves will hook you in and leave you surprisingly invested in the characters.  Benny’s character is often times irritating but the growth in his character is neat to watch as he realizes that his brother Tom isn’t so much a hunter but someone who is striving to give people the closure they need after the zombie apocalypse.  Tom’s character is simply amazing.  His skill with weapons and survival is top-notch and the amount of angst he puts up with from Benny is a true testament to his patience and understanding.

The story itself is pretty much non-stop action and there is never a dull moment.  There is some violence and gore but that’s not the focus of the story.  Instead it’s focused on Benny’s growth in maturity, dealing with his brother and friends and coming to terms with the way the world is outside his little community.

This book while I think girls will enjoy it is definitely a must recommend for teenage boys.  It’s a great book and is the first in a series.

About the author

Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times best-selling author and has won multiple Bram Stoker Awards.  He writes both adult and young adult fiction and Rot & Ruin is the first book in the Benny Imura series.

In addition to his fictional works he also has written several non-fiction books such as The Dryptopedia and Wanted Undead or Alive among others.  He also is the author of several projects for Marvel Comics.

Genre

Fiction

Curriculum Ties

N/A

Book talking idea

What would you do in a zombieapocalypse? Run, hunker down and try to wait it out, go out in a blaze of glory?

Reading level

Ages 14 and up.

Challenge Issues

N/A

Why did I include this book

I really enjoyed Maberry’s adult zombie books and I’ve said before he is the only author who can get me so invested in the characters in a zombie book that I tear up at times.  I’ve heard great things about his young adult series and I wanted to include something that would appeal to the more reluctant male teen reader.

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How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Rosoff, Meg.  How I Live Now. Wendy Lamb Books.  2004. ISBN 0553376055

Reader’s Annotation: Fifteen year old Daisy is sent by her father from New York to her aunt in England. She finds herself caught up in a war and fighting for the survival of herself and her cousins.

Plot Summary: When Daisy’s father is expecting a new child with her evil step mother Daisy finds herself being shipped off to England to visit some unknown aunt and cousins.  Her aunt has to go away for business soon after her arrival and then the bombs go off and England finds itself occupied by a foreign enemy.  Daisy and her cousins must fight for survival as food becomes scarce, you don’t know who you can trust and they soon find themselves separated from each other.

Critical Evaluation

I’ve been hearing so much about this book as a wonderful dystopian book but I don’t feel like it actually qualifies as a dystopian.  It doesn’t feel set in the far future and there is no elaborate government that people are rebelling against.  Instead it’s about a group of teens striving to survive the upheaval in their lives in the absence of adult guidance.

Once you move past the odd fact that Daisy’s aunt would run off and leave a house full of teenagers on their own this story is utterly fascinating.  Rosoff does an amazing job painting a realistic picture of what an occupation would be like for a group of teens who must find a way survive a war without any parent to tell them what to do.  Daisy was such a strong character as she has to fight not just for her own survival but also that of her 9 year old cousin.

There are some odd things thrown in like the apparently telepathic abilities of the cousins and Daisy’s connection with her cousin Edmund who she has fallen in love with.  Also I mentioned above about how their aunt apparently sees no problem with leaving the country while her four children, the oldest being just 16, are left on their own.

Still my favorite part of the book was the “where are they now” aspect of the story.  So often in a story you wonder what happens to the characters after they are rescued and in this book we actually find out.

About the author

Meg Rosoff was born in the United States but resides in London.  How I Live Now won the Guardian Award, Michael L. Printz Award and the Branford Boase Award.  She began writing after her youngest sister died of breast cancer and How I Live Now was published the same year Rosoff herself was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Her latest book, There Is No Dog, was published earlier this year and How I Live Now is currently being filmed and is due to be released in the UK in 2013.

Genre

Fiction

Curriculum Ties

English

Book talking idea

How ready are your survival skills for a disaster and had to survive on your own?

Reading level

Ages 14 and up.

Challenge Issues

Incest.

I would have the library’s collection management policy on hand and explain that the library is not here to filter what patrons read.  If questioned about this policy I would direct the patron to the ALA Bill of Rights.  I would also have links of hand of the reviews by well known outlets such as ALA and refer to awards won.

Why did I include this book?

Like I mentioned above it was greatly touted as a great dystopian book.  While I don’t feel it falls into the dystopian category it still is fascinating to watch how these young teens deal with this catastrophe.

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