Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review: This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN is not the follow-up of LIFE AS WE KNEW IT that I was hoping for.


I think the root of the problem is that the diary format just doesn’t work for this installment. In book one, it was interesting enough to follow Miranda’s personal journey via her written thoughts. She goes from a girl who has the whole world open to her to a girl trapped in a dark, cold room with only her starving family (and, yes, the family cat). However, this time around, Miranda’s character arc is so scant that it can’t sustain 256 pages of her whining.

The diary format also makes the creation of three-dimensional supporting characters difficult. I do recall caring about the fate of Miranda’s family in the first book, but here all we see through Miranda’s eyes is mom being an agoraphobic shrew, older brother Matt being a selfish jerk, and everyone else just kind of existing.

Unfortunately, the romance between Miranda and Alex (the “hero” of book 2) is dead in the water. These two have so little chemistry together, I cringed when they touched. And c’mon Miranda – I know you don’t have a lot of options for romance, but Alex is NOT boyfriend material. He wants to be monk. He’s super controlling and stubborn. And he’s obsessed with his sister. (Good at finding food though. I’ll give him that.)

And what’s up with everyone just moping around the entire novel until a tragic event (in the last 20 pages) forces them into action? Why couldn’t we have gotten more exploration of the “safe town” idea for instance?

My advice? Read LIFE AS WE KNEW IT and stop there (unless you are just totally in love with it and would read anything with the same characters, no matter what).
My rating: 1 Zombie Chicken - For Dystopian completists only.

Series Order:
LIFE AS WE KNEW IT (read my review)
THE DEAD AND THE GONE (skipped it!)
THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN (available in hardcover)

Find out more about the series at the official website.



See index of all Dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

39 comments:

Amanda said...

I have to admit, I didn't think the diary format worked in the first book! It was so unrealistic. I really wanted to love the book, but couldn't, and as time passed and it had been months since I read it, I grew to really detest it. I never read further in the series. :/

sarahem said...

Lol I love how honest you are in your reviews. And I thank you for it too, now I won't be wasting my time on this book.

Lenore said...

Amanda - I enjoyed the first book, though I had my problems with it. This one was just a huge waste of time.

Allison said...

I actually liked both of the first two books a lot..but ugh, I didn't like this one either. She sucked the life out of all the characters! Huge let down.

Lenore said...

Sara - You're welcome :)

Allison - Good way to describe the crime against these characters.

Little Miss Becky : ) said...

Great honest review. Now I know if I decide to read this series to get it from the library, just in case!

Tabitha said...

I also love your honest reviews. I enjoyed the first book. but have shied away from the next two becaue I was afraid of experiencing exactly what you did. So I'll definitely be sparing myself that misery... :) Thanks for the review!

bermudaonion said...

Well, I was thinking I needed to try this series, but now I think I'll pass. Thanks for your review.

Dawn Embers said...

So her name is Miranda? I'll admit, I tried reading the first book and quit. During the first chapters I wasn't quite sure what the main character's name was since I saw it maybe once. I just couldn't get into the first book and gave up on reading less than 1/4th the way through, which is something I rarely do. Which was a little sad because I liked the concept of the story.

Sara said...

The worst part was that the ending was spoiled on the back of the book.

I have a love hate relationship with that whole series.

Colleen said...

Loved the first book. Ditched the second book 15 pages in. Avoiding this last book like a zombie plague.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Oh no! I have pulled the first book off my shelf to read soon. I was hoping this would be a good series, I wonder what I will think if it...

Sandy Nawrot said...

My daughter and I read all three and we enjoyed them, but definitely enjoyed the first one the most. You are right, no chemistry at all, but hey! They are like the last teenagers on earth so they have to get while the gettin' is good. I was a little put out over Alex's uptight attitude. Still, I'm glad we read them all.

literarywife said...

I was still deciding whether I wanted to read This World We Live In after reading the first book. You've clenched it; I'll skip over it. Thanks for your honesty.

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

I could've written this review. Mine will post tomorrow. Very disappointed!

Sara Kankowski DeSabato said...

I totally agree with so many of your points! I felt like the ending of book three (I'll try to do this without spoilers) was really supposed to be the ending to book one, just with miranda interacting with a different character, and then someone along the line realized that it could be stretched out into 3 books instead of one. I felt like This World We Live In was just waiting for that climactic moment, and the rest was just filler.

~♥lilmudduckmuffineater♥~ said...

I resepct your opinion on the book but would you still be the same person after the moon did that? I would probably act the way they did too,any person would. A thing like that would change any person.

Heather said...

I so appreciate your honesty! I was looking forward to this series but now I might look elsewhere, or just read the first book and stop there (though even your other review wasn't terribly favorable, and I'm definitely not new to the genre, so this one might not be for me.)

Lenore said...

Sara - That's a good point! And it shows that it's the only exciting thing that happens in the story since they felt they had to put it in the summary on the back to entice readers.

Sandy - I actually kind of laughed about how perfectly each of the members of Miranda's family was presented with someone in their age group of the opposite sex. Even the mom! Ha!

Nymeth said...

Between you and Renay, I think I really have to brace myself for disappointing if/when I get to this one :S

Lenore said...

Lil - Is it a realistic reflection of how someone would act in that situation? Probably. Is it exciting to read? I think not.

Heather - I'm glad I read the first book, even if it wasn't my favorite. The atmosphere is done really well and I still mentally calculate how many canned goods and water bottles I have in my house!

Nikola said...

Only one zombie chicken?! :)

In all honesty, I've never even heard of this series... Guess I won't bother. :)

Meghan said...

Disappointing - I do want to read the first of the series because a lot of people really liked it. But I think I'll have to reserve judgement and make sure I get it out of the library - and stop there.

Zibilee said...

I bought my kids the first two books in this series, and my daughter commented that the first was much better than the second. Now I am forced to conclude that the third doesn't live up to even the second, so I will be skipping this one and picking up something else for them. Thanks for the honesty, Lenore!

Michelle said...

Thank YOU! I did not find anything great about this book. I just didn't live up to the first one. Fabulous review.

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Steph Su said...

LOL, this review made me laugh. Because you were just so unapologetically MEHHH about it. It's really a shame, as the first book is one of my all-time favorites (and still is, no matter how I can't seem to get through the second book, and no matter that all subsequent sequels seem to have failed). But I will take your word for it and place books two and three on the waaayyy back burner. :)

Lenore said...

Steph - It's possible if the first is one of your all-time faves, that you might like it. Amy of My Friend Amy liked it. In any case, you'd probably at least like it more than I did, ha!

Alyce said...

It's been fun reading everyone's opinions about this series, especially the last two books. I loved the second book even more than the first, but this one wasn't nearly as good. I still gave it a high rating though because I was still sucked into it and couldn't put it down. I really went back and forth on how high to rate it though because even though I raced through the book I was disappointed with the ending. I agree that there should have been more exploration of the safe town side of the story. I felt like the author wanted to deal more with the relationships but wanted nothing to do with anything related to the scientific side of what happened or the possibility of solutions.

caite said...

since I am one of the few that did not like the first book...for several reasons, in many ways...I will not be reading this one.
One chicken...oh my.

Splendibird said...

I completely agree with you - I was hugely disappointed with this book. The first book was interesting, the second worked well as a companion novel and provided a much needed alternative POV but pushing all the characters together in book three felt massively contrived and unnecessary. And yes, the romance left me cold - it was utterly ridiculous.

Jeanne said...

I liked this one a lot better than the second one--but I agree with you on all points. The safe communities are the most interesting part, and I was disappointed not to find out more about them. On the other hand, I wasn't bothered by the diary format or how unlikely the romance is (when there are no boys around, a teenage girl takes what she gets--doesn't seem that far-fetched to me).

poshdeluxe (forever young adult) said...

thanks for confirming what i'd heard from a few other people (obvs i consider you the highest authority in the land). i had a LOT of issues with the first book, so i'm glad to avoid any further wasting of my time.

i did, however, buy some canned food after finishing the first one. so i guess i can thank pfeffer for that.

Lenore said...

Alyce - She definitely avoided any science questions, but what she explored relationship-wise was not satisfying to me at all.

Sya - Ridiculous is a great way to describe it!

Jeanne - Could be...but the fact there just happened to be a boy her age also seem so contrived, especially when coupled with the age-appropriate members of the opposite sex for every character in the book.

Lenore said...

Sarah (aka POSH) - Oh yeah! I make sure I'm stocked up on my canned food as well.

Meg said...

Yikes! Sorry to hear this one was such a disappointment. Life As We Knew It was easily one of my favorite reads in '09, and I thought The Dead And The Gone was just okay. I'll probably skip this one... I've waited this long already.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Lenore, I'm so sorry you absolutely didn't enjoy this one! The first book is one of my favorite dystopian books, but I agree this one was the one I liked the less in the series. Although I did enjoy it more than you did. Luckily there are a lot of other dystopian novels to choose from! :)

Lily Child said...

Bummer! I have been toying with the idea of reading this series, but haven't heard a ton of great feedback. I think I'll take your advice, and only read the first book. Thanks for the honest review!

Dee Dee said...

THANK you!! I really loved Life As We Knew It, but This World We Live In just plain sucked. I agree with all of your points completely, and then some. One of my huge complaints was that the entire theme was of hope and family, and it ALL disappears in the second. What exactly IS the theme, anyway?