Life As We Knew It

I wanted to read this book because it has a similar apocalypse-trigger to the novel I’m writing right now. In this one, an asteroid hits the moon, it orbits closer to the Earth, and everything gets wonky, including major volcanic eruptions that throw enough ash into air to plunge everyone into a mini ice age. So, different trigger, but similar fallout, I guess.

Life As We Knew It is told in diary format, written by a 16 year-old narrator. Miranda’s life already feels kind of small at the start of the novel—she cares about her big brother and her obsession with a figure skater athlete who came from her hometown. Her world gets smaller as the fallout from the big event unfolds.

Typically, I don’t like diary-style writing. It’s too confessional, and if I don’t like the protagonist enough, it can absolutely make me rage-quit the book. I found myself drawn into this story, though, wondering what would happen next. There were a lot of good details about food hoarding, calories vs. nutrition, heat and plumbing, how much wood is really required to stay warm, etc. There’s no big romance, no love triangles. This is a character fighting for her life, learning things from her mom when her mom can’t hide the truth from her anymore. Being resentful of her younger brother. Growing up in strange and trying circumstances.

I’m usually drawn to YA that has a wider scope, and more fantastical elements. Characters who do more than just survive. I think it was really interesting reading this book on the heels of Ice Dogs, because the protagonist in that book is so competent. Whereas Miranda has to struggle not to complain, some days. Which if you think about it is probably more realistic for a teenager who grew up in a normal town with constant access to the internet and a sheltered life.

As far as apocalyptic fiction goes, this book deals with a small scale, very character-centric. You get caught up in the logistics of staying alive. You see sides of characters that you wouldn’t normally see, when all they have to do is sit quietly every night, trying not to use too many candles. Doing the laundry by hand. It’s a different pace, and an interesting story. Well worth a read if you want to expand your apocalyptic YA sphere.

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