Miranda and her family from Life As We Knew It have made it through the brutal winter. Limited government food supplies have started coming to her small Pennsylvania town, enough to keep her, her mother and two brothers alive as they try to figure out what to do next. Even though any food is long gone, Miranda and her brothers have taken to looting abandoned houses for items like toilet paper and toothpaste, which now seem like huge luxuries almost a year after the asteroid that hit the moon changed everything. And now things are changing once again. Suddenly, there are more mouths to feed when older brother Matt shows up with his new “wife,” Syl. And Miranda’s dad finally comes back with his wife Lisa, their new baby and several traveling companions, including Alex Morales and his sister Julie from The Dead and the Gone. Tensions rise around food distribution and family affections. While Miranda is thrilled to see a cute boy her age who isn’t related to her, she’s also worried about how much the newcomers will eat, and resents the fact that her father seems to care about Alex and Julie more than his own children. In addition, Alex has a secret that could either save or destroy this fragile new community of survivors. Who will live, who will die, and who will fall in unexpected love in This World We Live In?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: what I love about these books is how Pfeffer paints the Armageddon not with a broad 2012 brush, but instead takes a subtle, infinitely scarier approach, where the simple things Miranda takes for granted, like privacy, the taste of toothpaste and the regularity of the seasons gradually disappear. Even something as benign as a quick bike ride to town could end in tragedy if she fell and broke a bone, as there are no more working hospitals, or doctors to staff them. All the rules have changed, and the consequences for thoughtless behavior could very well be fatal. Can love even exist under these conditions? Is it worth caring for someone who could be taken from you at any moment? Pfeffer raises these questions and many more in this thoughtful, moving conclusion to her end of the world trilogy. While you can read World on its own, you’ll want to take in all three titles for the full-on post apocalyptic experience.