the dead & the gone -- Susan Beth Pfeffer
Thirty-six pages into the dead & the gone, I called my sister to make a disaster plan. 'Cause, you know, if an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, cell phones will be completely useless and neither of us has a land line. So pre-planning is key.
the dead & the gone is the companion novel to Life As We Knew It, which scared the bejeezus out of me over a year ago, and which has continued to scare the bejeezus out of me ever since. I received the review copy some time ago, but I really had to work up the courage to read it. And finally, yesterday, I did.
High school junior Alex Morales is working a shift at Joey's Pizza when the asteroid hits. When he gets home, the power is out, the cable is out and there doesn't seem to be anything broadcasting on the radio. He's informed by his younger sisters that their father -- who'd just flown home to Puerto Rico for his mother's funeral -- had called before the outages, to let them know he'd arrived safely, and that their mother had been called into work at the hospital.
Days pass, and except for a static-filled phone call in which the caller might have said something about Puerto Rico, they hear nothing from their parents.
Like Life As We Knew It, the dead & the gone is a survival story about not only the physicality of the situation, but the emotional and mental as well. Due to the setting -- New York City, rather than rural Pennsylvania -- it deals much more with class than the first book. Alex and his sisters, though bright and resourceful, have no political or monetary clout -- and it becomes apparent as the story progresses that bright and resourceful might not be enough to get them through.
I had mixed feelings about the similarities between the two books -- on one hand, it made sense that the hardships and the emotions and even some of the situations would be similar. On the other, sometimes the story lines matched up so well that it felt like re-reading the first book [SPOILERS AHEAD] -- an offer for one of the sisters to travel to a farm, where she'd be well-fed and comfortable, and later, the crippling flu that hits Alex the same way that it hit the older brother in the first book. The story parallels made sense -- especially the flu -- but it still felt like a re-read in that way. [END SPOILERS]
Aside from that, I found the dead & the gone to be just as compelling a read as Life As We Knew It. As with the first book, I found myself checking our cupboards, yet unable to eat anything -- it would have made me feel too guilty. Alex's trip to Yankee Stadium to look for his mother's body, the food riot at Columbus and Eighty-second Street and his constantly shifting feelings about God and his own morality will be with me for a long time.