The Dead and The Gone is the second book in Susan Beth Pfeffer’s “The Last Survivors” series. I devoured the first book (Life As We Knew It) and really enjoyed the catastrophic world that Pfeffer creates with the idea that an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth and completely screws our world up.
This takes place at the same time as the first book, but it centers around a 17-year-old boy named Alex Morales in New York City. The first book constantly mentioned how things were SO much worse in major cities, especially NYC, so I was really looking forward to a darker, grittier book. I was really disappointed. Alex starts off in a pretty bad situation – both of his parents are missing at the time the moon in knocked closer to Earth, and NYC is in an uproar. Most of the island was flooded, and there’s tales of panic in the streets. But besides trying to take care of his younger sisters, Alex has it okay. The area that he lives in isn’t flooded, and he’s able to get a bunch of food from his uncle’s store. He catches a lot of lucky breaks. Some real bad stuff does eventually happen, but it’s all cushioned with Alex’s devoutness.
I totally get and appreciate that there are millions of people out there who are religious and look to that for comfort in times of crisis. But where Pfeffer could have written a fascinating, gritty account of NYC in total chaos, she made is all seem nice and glossed over with the excess of religion. This is the most pious trio of siblings I’ve ever read about, and it seemed kind of fake. Even the priest in the book told Alex to stop trying to be a saint. Alex had to do some tough things eventually, such as loot from dead bodies. You’d expect a character to feel some sort of way about that and go through a bit of a moral dilemma, but Alex reassured himself that God would want him to do it to survive, and goes to confession later. He used religion to basically gloss over that moral dilemma. It was such a copout. And that’s what basically the whole book was – religion helping to avoid the really tough and scary things that were happening.
And besides the religion stealing the show, little things just bothered me. In the first book they made a point of saying how the major coastal cities were so much worse off than those inland, but it seemed like food and supplies came to Alex and other NY-ers pretty easily. Way easier than inland PA, where the first book took place. Also, the fact that the main characters in this series flinch from guns in these books is a little ridiculous. Come on, the last decade or so has been overrun with zombie / post-apocalyptic movies and books, all teenagers know that weapons are a good idea in these types of situations. Even the saintly teens.
ANYWAYS. Big long rant over. I was really disappointed in the route Pfeffer took in The Dead and The Gone. But for all of that, I’m still going to read the third book (This World We Live In) because I already bought it and feel like I mind as well finish it off. In the next book, Alex somehow meets up with Miranda from the first book, and I’m still really curious to see what happens there.
I was just hoping for something more realistic with this one, I guess. I hope This World We Live In redeems the series a little for me.
Sarah Says: 2 stars