In this companion book to Life as We Knew It, we get the story of another teen's experience after the moon is knocked closer to the earth when an asteroid hits it. This time it's 17 year old Alex Morales. He lives in NYC with his parents and two sisters (his older brother is in the military). Alex is a devout Catholic of Puerto Rican descent, a competitive overachiever who attends a private Catholic school in spite of his family's relative poverty.
He loses track of his parents almost immediately after the moon is knocked closer to the earth and tidal waves rush into parts of New York. His mother is off at work, but did she really make it? Was she in the subway when it was flooded? His father is in Puerto Rico for a funeral, and other than a fuzzy phone call that may or may not be from him, Alex and his family get no word about him. He does hear from his older brother, but when things get bad, Alex loses track of him as well. It is just Alex and his younger sisters, devout Briana and whiny Julie.
At first, the three make it along okay and think that things are going to get back to normal, but of course, things get worse, not better, and they are left to fend for themselves in a city that is slowly dying. Winter hits early and blankets the city in a layer of snow. Food becomes more and more scarce. Electricity comes in spurts and then dies out altogether. All they are left with is each other and their faith, which also seems to be fading.
This is the story of their survival in this bleak atmosphere, what they have to do to survive, the lies that have to tell themselves, and how they become the victims of those lies. It is not particularly interesting at first but becomes more compelling as their struggle to survive becomes more difficult. I love post-Apocalyptical and dystopian novels, so, of course, this was right up my alley. I read it because I also enjoyed Pfeffer's Life as We Knew It.
There were a few places where I wanted to slap the characters around a bit, however. You know how it is when you're watching a movie or reading a book and the characters do something stupid or don't do something that should be blatantly obvious to them? I kept getting annoyed at Alex for not being truthful and forthright to his sisters. Also, he bosses them around like he's an overseer on a plantation (okay, maybe it's not that brutal, but he does have that whole macho-man-in-charge thing going on). But what I couldn't understand is why they never broke down the doors of the other apartments in their building in order to get supplies. We are made to understand that their building is virtually abandoned, so why they don't ransack those other apartments for food is beyond me. And why do they eventually settle on the 12th floor? Really? You want to climb twelve stories to get to your apartment when the elevator is not working? Wouldn't the first or second floor have been a wiser choice even if you have to bust down the door?
I find asteroids and meteorites fascinating...in spite of the fact that I use the terms interchangeably. There are theories that the Earth's water and even the building blocks of life itself originated in meteorites. So I was wondering how plausible the scenario in the series is. Could an asteroid really knock the moon closer to the Earth? Well, it turns out, no. If an asteroid hit the moon, all that would happen is that the moon would get another crater. The only way a body could move the moon would be if it were the same size or larger than the moon itself and hit it in the opposite direction direction from what it is traveling. So, it's pretty unlikely. Still, makes for a good story, du'n it?