Read: March 2016
Such a happy title…. The Dead and the Gone is the second book in Susan Pfeffer’s last survivors series. I read the first, Life as we Knew it in February (review here) and quickly purchased book two to carry on with the story.
This is a sequel but this and its predecessor could be read in either order, that being said because the underlying plot of an asteroid hitting the moon, knocking it closer to Earth is the same so the following review will contain spoilers to both books.
The Dead and the Gone is set in New York and follows Alex Morales; its written in third person prose rather than book one’s diary format however it dated throughout so you can keep track of the timeline. In Miranda’s diary we heard a lot of how there were reports that things were worse for people living nearer a coastline, for people like Alex.
Alex is a 17 year old sophmore at St. Vincent de Paul’s Catholic school, trying to earn himself get a scholarship to a good college. When the asteroid hits the moon he’s working at a pizza takeaway, his father is away attending a funeral in Puerto Rico and his mother working at a hosptial in Queens. With his elder brother is enlisted in the marines Alex is left to protect two younger sisters, Julie and Bri.
The destruction was more apparent in this version. In the first book while we’re reminded of the high death tolls the closet encounters Miranda had to the fatal effects of the event were the deaths of an elderly family friend and one of her school friends. Alex is literally stepping over dead bodies everytime he leaves the house.
Alex goes through the same catalogue of disatars Miranda and her family have faced the earthquakes, the volcanic ash, the flu all adding to the day to day struggle to survive. I liked how much focus was put on Alex’s struggle between his need to keep his family alive and his religious beliefs. Mirandas family survived the first year thanks to her mother’s quick instincts and careful planning, Alex is living day to day from whats on the streets, he can’t just lock himself and his sisters away from the world, he’s to rely on the black market and the abandoned belongings of the dead and the gone.
Initially I had reservations that this would be a retelling of the first book just from a slightly different perspective but I think the premise of the books is strong enough to warrant a second viewpoint. It did take a pretty mirror-imaged journey to book one, as the flu hit it was starting to look like it might be the end until a chance ‘right place, right time’ moment saves their lives right at the end, though this was slightly less annoying dramatic than Miranda’s suicidal walk into the snow and stumbling across a piece of paper, so while I think I preferred the characters of book one, this defiantly had the better ending in my opinion.
I gave this a 3/5 on goodreads, I almost went for a 4 and I have ordered book 3 of the series, which I believe combines the remaining characters the first two books.