August 12, 2010

Review: This World We Live In

Title: This World We Live In
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer

From Goodreads
It's been over a month since Miranda Evans has written in her diary, a month of relative calm for her and her family. It's springtime, and with warmer weather comes rain, and the melting of the winter's snow. The shad are running in a nearby river, and Miranda's brothers Matt and Jon leave home for a few days to see if they can catch some to supplement their food supply.

When they return, Matt brings with him a girl named Syl, who he introduces as his bride. But that's not the only shock Miranda and her family have to deal with. A few weeks later, Miranda's father, stepmother, and baby brother show up at her door. Accompanying them are three strangers, a man named Charlie Rutherford, and two teenagers, Alex and Julie Morales. These five people have crossed America together, becoming, in their own way, a family.

Miranda's complicated feelings about Alex, curiosity, resentment, longing, and passion turn into love. Alex's feelings are equally complex. His plans to escort Julie to a convent where she can be taken care of, so that he will be free to enter a monastery, are destined for failure. He wants desperately to live up to his moral code, but his desire for Miranda is too strong. He proposes to Miranda that they take Julie and go to a safe town.
But before Miranda and Alex can go off together, a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and in its aftermath, Miranda makes a decision that will change forever her life and Alex's, and the world that they live in will never be the same.
My Review


I was so very excited when I saw this book was coming out.  I loved This World We Live In and The Dead and the Gone was great.  The idea of knowing more about what happened to these people - to see them live on, was awesome.  Maybe I could see Miranda grow even stronger.  Maybe I could see Alex find someone to help him so he doesn't have to go alone so much of the time.  Maybe I'll see how the world moves forward in hope and promise.  Ok, so maybe I was naive.  I won't say I hated it because I didn't, but when I finished this book I felt disappointed.  I felt sad.  I didn't hate it.  I liked seeing Miranda more.  I liked learning more about her family.  The author pulled me right back into that world of desolation, hunger and uncertainty.  But, for me, the problem was it didn't end any of that.  You see I had went into the book needing an ending that promised hope for the characters involved.  I didn't feel that in the end.  If anything I felt even sadder because these people seemed to be hiding more secrets, refusing help more, trudging on without a light at the end of the tunnel.  None of that was there.  Again, FOR ME, it ended as sad as it began.  Maybe that was more realistic in terms of the world they lived in, but I wanted more.

I also have to comment on Alex.  If I had never read The Dead and the Gone, I would've hated him.  In TDATG he very much hated to ask for help and didn't want pity or to be a burden, but I understood where it came from.  He was the only person left to take care of his sisters - he was the responsible one. In this book, if I hadn't known his history, I would not have had patience for him.  He was unbending, almost rude and kind of arrogant.  I let a lot of it go because I knew what he had gone through, but at times it was hard.  I knew he was trying to take care of Julie the best he could by taking her to the convent, but I didn't like how unwilling he was to change his plans, and it was never, in my opinion, explained clear enough why he felt the needed to take her there. 

Lastly - the relationship between Alex and Miranda.  I had hoped it would soften each of them some.  In a way it almost made them have a hard edge because of Alex's refusal to change his plans even though he had feelings for Miranda.  I also had a bit of a hard time buying into how fast things happened with them.  It seemed quick.  Now I understand that in that world, there was no time to waste, but it still seemed too fast.  Actually a lot of the relationships in the story seemed fast - like the one between Miranda's brother and Syl.  I never fully understand that relationship.

Ok enough.  Like I said - I didn't hate it. It just seemed under done, like a few more chapters could've been added. Over-all I was just disappointed that it wasn't what I had hoped for.  That it lacked the HOPE I had hoped for.

Final thought: If you've read the other two - read it so you have the complete story.
Best stick-with-you image:  What Miranda find in a pile in the snow. (I'll leave it at that!)
Best for reader who: are ok with reading emotionally sad stories and can handle some graphic description of a world in distress
Best for ages: 12+

Parents need to know: there are some more graphic descriptions of death.


  1. I was disappointed in this final installment as well. Really, neither character matured much. Miranda was still as self-centered and whiney despite nearly a year of surviving. Alex, whom I liked very much in TDATG, got stuck in macho-mode. And the older brother's paternalism really got to me. All this and the other plot elements that I just couldn't buy into left me cold. Too bad really.

  2. This one didn't really do anything for me. I felt like all the things I really wanted to hear about didn't happen - I would have loved to read about them actually leaving the house and all the people they'd meet along the way. Too bad this one didn't turn out better.

  3. I think this book would have worked a little better with alternating POVs of Miranda and Alex. Not knowing what Alex was thinking was frustrating for me and I hated his "do what my brother says" attitude. And I thought the relationships were rushed but reasonably so.
    That being said I thought the ending appropriate for the series and there was some added hope with the baby and everything.

  4. Sounds like an interesting series!