Book Review: The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

deadandgoneTitle: The Dead and the Gone
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my public library.
First line: At the moment when life as he had known it changed forever, Alex Morales was behind the counter at Joey’s Pizza, slicing a spinach pesto pie into eight roughly equal pieces.

I loved Life As We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer’s first book in the Moon series. I was excited when my library said they would order book two, The Dead and the Gone, but a little disappointed to discover that it was about a different family’s experiences after the moon incident. I loved Miranda from book one, and wanted to read more about her. Amy and I were chatting on Twitter about the series, and she assured me that I would love book two just as much, if not more. And she was right.

The Dead and the Gone is set in New York City, and tells of the Morales’ family’s experience after the moon incident. (A huge asteroid hits the moon, moving it closer to Earth, resulting in massive climate changes, tsunamis, volcanoes – and then famine, disease, etc.) Alex Morales is 17 years old, and a junior at a Catholic boys’ high school. He is there on scholarship, and works hard to get good grades so he can get into a good university. His goal is to become the first Puerto Rican president of the United States.

On the night of the moon incident, Alex is working at a local pizza parlor. His dad is in Puerto Rico for his grandmother’s funeral and his mother is working at a hospital in another borough of NYC. Alex and his two sisters, 15 year old Bri and 12 year old Julie, wait anxiously to hear from their parents. But as the days go by with no word, Alex must accept the fact that the girls and their survival is now his responsibility.

The Dead and the Gone is a darker book than Life As We Knew It. The experiences of people living in the city were, in some ways, more horrifying than for people living in more rural areas. Alex is forced to do things he never before would have contemplated in order to provide for his sisters. As a devout Catholic, Alex has to reconcile his ideas of sin and guilt with his need to help his family survive.

The issue of religion came up in both books. In Life As We Knew It, one of Miranda’s friends is a fundamentalist Christian – and her response to the disaster is disturbing to say the least. As a Christian myself, it makes me sad to know that there would be churches that would react that way. I would also like to think, however, that some Christians would respond in a caring and practical way in order to help those around them.

The Catholic community as portrayed in The Dead and the Gone is a more alive, caring faith community – one who tries to care for their congregants to the best of their ability with their limited resources. I also thought that Pfeffer wonderfully wrote about Alex’s crisis of faith, his wondering about God’s love and provision in the midst of such horror.

I devoured this book, and the last hundred pages were amazing and had me in tears in more than one place. I am so excited to read book three, via Net Galley, since it doesn’t come out in print until April.

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22 Responses to Book Review: The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

  1. I loved this book! I didn’t know how she’d be able to pull off a sequel to Life as We Knew It, but she did it beautifully. I can’t wait for the third book to come out!
    .-= Colette A Buckeye Girl Reads´s last blog ..Leonardos Notebook for Heidenkinds Art History Challenge =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Colette – I’m always a little anxious about picking up a sequel to a book I adored – worried it won’t measure up – but this one does beautifully!

  2. This sounds like a really interesting series, Carrie. I am glad you enjoyed this one as much as the first.
    .-= Literary Feline´s last blog ..The Search for the Perfect Gift – Virtual Advent Tour =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Wendy – there are just so many good YA series out there right now – it’s hard to keep up with them all!

  3. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I just ordered the first book in the series from the library (hopefully in time for my daughter and I to take with us to Indiana). We can’t wait. I’m kinda glad to hear that this book didn’t make the Catholics look bad…we certainly get our share of bad press. Thanks Carrie…you’ve just pumped me up to get to the second book!
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..Go Ask Alice – Anonymous =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – I really adored the character of Father Mulrooney – at first he comes off as this old and cramped curmudgeon, but I really warmed to his character.

  4. Michelle says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the second book. I agree with you, this one was much darker than the first. Mainly in the way Alex was forced to provide for his sisters. It was lovely to see a genuine friendship grow from those horrifying circumstances though. Though I’m not a Christian I imagine that the way the faith was portrayed in the first was a bit over the top. I imagine that most would likely react in a much more caring and compassionate way (a la book two) though I suppose in the face of truly horrifying circumstances many could lose their faith entirely and such reactions would prevail. Regardless I found bot the be enjoyable and hope that book three will be equally so.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..For the Love of a Good Man =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Michelle – that’s something I forgot to mention in my review – the way that before the incident, Alex was so busy studying and competing with his fellow students that he didn’t have time for friendship, but the friendship he develops with Kevin and the relationship with his sister Julie really show how sometimes it takes a horrible crisis to help us ssee what is important. Such good stuff to think about in this series!

  5. Kathy says:

    Now you’ve got me excited about this series! It sounds great.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Review: Roses =-.

  6. Amy says:

    This sounds like a really interesting series. I have know some young adult readers who love dystopian stories so I’ll have to tell them about this one!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Secrets of a Christmas Box by Steven Hornby =-.

  7. heidenkind says:

    These books sound pretty dark to me–not sure if I want to go there. =/
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..TSS–The Vlog Edition =-.

  8. S. Krishna
    Twitter: skrishna
    says:

    I really need to read this series! I’ve got the first two, but haven’t read them.
    .-= S. Krishna´s last blog ..The Girl Next Door – Elizabeth Noble =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Swapna – yes, you should! You can read book three from Net Galley, too, if you don’t mind e-books.

  9. Yay great review! 🙂 Love Alex.
    .-= Amy @ My Friend Amy´s last blog ..Time Sinks by Julianne Lee (Giveaway) =-.

  10. Debbie
    Twitter: debworldofbooks
    says:

    OMG, thanks for mentioning it was on NetGalley! I’ve been dying waiting for this book. LIfe As We Knew It was so good! I’ve been holding off on reading this one until closer to book 3’s release date. Now I can go out and read it.
    .-= Debbie´s last blog ..2009 in Review, My Top 2009 Reads & What’s to Come in 2010 =-.

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