Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer


WARNING: This review contains strong language.
"High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, the way “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintry in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world."


Okay, I was really looking forward to this book - I've been reading a lot of dystopias lately and they've surprised me in a positive way. Not this one.

Why? SCIENCE.

Listen, if you're writing fantasy or sci-fi that's not based on Earth you can go all out, like, "That asteroid knocked Zhogenaqn, our moon, out of orbit, which caused all the feueldndao plants to release zignhnwp, a deadly virus." It's cool. You can do that, and I won't even bat an eyelash at it.

BUT when you say "oh all the astronomers were really psyched about that asteroid that would hit the moon, but it ended up knocking the moon out of orbit like a goddamn marble and make its way towards Earth", then we have a problem.

First of all, it would take an object equal to the moon in density and size, hitting it at the same velocity as its trajectory, but on an opposite direction to knock it out of said orbit. ARE YOU TELLING ME ALL THE WORLD'S ASTRONOMERS COULD NOT CALCULATE THAT SHIT?! Not that there would be anything to calculate since the book tells us the asteroid was "a lot smaller than the moon"!

Then a bunch of unrealistic, unscientific stuff happens, which is just basically a whole case of: author did not do the research - even if I were able to ignore that moon stuff , (WHICH, AS A SCIENTIST, I CAN'T) I wouldn't be able to ignore this! How the fuck do tides cause tsunamis?! Are tides somehow causing submarine earthquakes?! And the Yellowstone volcano erupted because of the moon (WTF?!?!?!) and all it did was send out a little ash?! And suddenly malaria?! I JUST CAN'T WITH THIS SHIT.

I'm not religious, my family isn't religious. I don't care about religion. That being said, the author's attack on religious characters is absurd. Why are they being portrayed as whack jobs who incite children to starve because God will provide for them while churches are keeping all the food for themselves? Give me a break, the great majority of the world's population is religious, they're not all crazy people! And churches (or the equivalent depending on denomination)? They have a history of helping people when disaster strikes. Bitch all you want, but even now with this fucking crisis, there are a lot of people who would be starving if it weren't for food provided by organizations connected to religious movements.

Don't use YA books as your platform to spout this kind of shit. It makes you look like an asshole. Especially if you already proved to the world you are unable to grasp the basics of science.

And the story? If you advertise your book as a dystopia, don't make us read a teenage girl's diary unless shit actually happens in it!

I know I sound mad, and I am mad because there is so much awesome stuff you could do with science on your side!! The author even quoted Star Trek TOS, which was pretty okay on the science bits (even though it had a lot of leeway what with it being in OUTER SPACE WITH ALIENS).

But this book?






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2 comments:

  1. You might find my 2008 review of "Life as We Knew It" of interest, while I do point out that the science is pretty hokey, I don't think that was really the point of the book (interpersonal relationships in a time of crisis). In the review I mention some other similar books, in particular R.C. Sheriff's 1939 novel (reprinted Macmillan, 1963) "The Hopkins Manuscript" -- where the science is completely bogus (the moon falls into the Atlantic Ocean and being largely hollow crumbles and fills in much of the Ocean with minimal damage to adjacent land) still work well if they have a overriding theme. The point of Sheriff's novel is that prior to the detection of the moon falling to Earth all of Europe is at war, then everybody cooperates to save humanity, but when the dust settles and mineral resources are discovered in the new landmass, everybody goes back to killing each other for their piece of the pie...and amusingly, once devastated by internecine war, Europe is easily taken over by a Moslem army from the Middle East.
    Regards, G. Dodds

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  2. Oops, here's the link: https://www.sfsite.com/11a/rg283.htm

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