The Dead and the Gone - Review

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
is the second installment in Pfeffer's Last Survivors series, a companion book to Life as We Knew it

About the book

Some of the things that I didn't like about the first book in the series were addressed in the second one. It's darker. It's grittier. And when you're talking about post-apoc fiction, the grittier the better, in my opinion. I don't want to say too much about the novel, because I don't know about you guys, but I prefer going in to a story knowing next to nothing about the plot. It's more fun that way. But I'll tell you this much:
The Dead and the Gone is set in New York. When the comet hits the moon, 17 year old Alex Morales is at work. His mom is working a late shift at the hospital, his father is in Puerto Rico for a funeral, and his two younger sisters are home alone. They are a devout Catholic family, and the disaster serves as a test of their faith. Will their parents make it home? Will Alex be able to provide for his sisters?

The Good

Like I said, this book is darker than the first. There is a bit more violence, and we see death that is much closer to the main characters. In many ways this book is the complete opposite of its companion. This installment has less of the everyday teenage angst that was present in Miranda's journal. Alex and his sisters are religious whereas Miranda's family was not. Alex lives in the urban sprawl whereas Miranda was in rural Pennsylvania. It was nice to see the disaster from a completely different perspective. I've heard some people complain that the piety of the teenage children, particularly Bri, was unrealistic, but (being Cuban) I have met my share of Hispanic Catholics and I don't think it's too much of a stretch.

The Bad
The book still wasn't as dark as I would have expected, though I don't suppose I can demand something on the same level as The Road from a YA novel.
There still wasn't as much chaos as I expected. Especially as this one was set in the inner city. The kids were able to get lunch every weekday from their schools, and there were food lines that gave out a bag of supplies every week. I WOULD like to have that much faith in the government and our society, but (call me a cynic) I just don't. There was only one instance when the line ran out of food while Alex and his sister where still waiting, and a mob formed. Just one.

I didn't quite understand Kevin's motivation for doing all that he did for Alex. He was a bit of an enigma, and not always in a good way. How can you relate to a character if you don't understand their motives? He seemed cynical and hard, and yet he was obviously well enough off. He had no reason to stand in line with Alex, and yet he did. Every week.

I was also confused as to why Alex wasn't able to get into any of the other apartments in the building. It seems that since his father was the Manager, there would be keys to EVERY apartment in the office somewhere. Am I wrong about this?

My Rating
The book was good. I like the series, so far. I will read the third one as soon as it's available to me. I would recommend it to people who like Disaster/Post-apocalyptic fiction and Young Adult novels. But the series doesn't quite do it for a serious Post-apoc Junkie.

I give it a 7/10


Lauren {Geeb} said...

This is a series I have never heard of. Thanks for bringing them to my attention. I love dystopian literature. I am reading The Road right now and you are right it is gritty. Thanks for the review. I have added you to my blog roll.

jenn said...

I just finished the book, and I agree with you. The author was less protective of her characters here than in the other book, but still too much. These events in reality would've been far worse than this. And I hated how it ended! But that might just be me and my beef with endings. A little too clean, overall. Might reread The Road to restore my faith in good bleak fiction. Very good review -- you nailed it.