Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Life As We Knew It": The Evaluation

The book Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer was not as I thought it would be. After listening to everyone's opinion of the book (and each opinion was dripping with high praise) my expectation was set high from the get-go.  However, the more the story continued, the more disappointed I became.
Yes the fear felt by Miranda and her family was real, but none of it ever actually happened to Miranda. The post-apocalyptic action was nothing to be admired. A story of survival should have a little heat added on to make the tension to make it THAT much more intense. It's that intense feeling that the author creates that keeps the reader turning pages; Miranda just hearing the news about what was going on in the world- the volcanoes, the tsunamis- and the worst that her neck of the woods got was ash-covered ground and some cold doesn't seem all that bad. Sure, the flu can be pretty scary. Yet with the direction that the novel was taking, you could almost predict that Miranda and her family would pull through. While a little predictability lingers in just about every story plot out there, this story line had a little more than was necessary. Foreshadowing is a great literary device to use, but can be a little discouraging when over used...
Speaking of  literary devices, diction is also important. The author's diction in this novel was to be that of an adolescent girl. Yet not every adolescent girl these days talks the same that Miranda does. The way that Miranda descibes things didn't help make the story more interesting. (And the fact that she whined about her life sucking before the asteroid hit the moon didn't make me want to read any further either...) Usually teenage girls try and use as much detail as possible, and they even try using the compare-and-contrast method to try and get listeners to relate to what is being explained. Miranda does little of this, and not to mention that her logic on things isn't any sort of breakthrough. Sure, some girls see things simply, but usually the sterotype that "females pay more attention to detail" rings true; especially when they're decribing some great happening.
Also, the whole compensation with humor thing... it's not for Miranda or any of the other characters for that matter. The way I see it, if a character is so funny that it makes people laugh out loud, you make them compensate with humor to add more comic relief. However, if a character is dishing out joke after cheesy joke, then there is a bit of a problem. The jokes in the novel (for lack of a better description) are like a can of Easy Cheese; the author sort of just took the can and sprayed it all throughout the novel, and you look at it and know that what was sprayed was supposed to be an attempt at humor, however you don't acknowledge that the joke was funny. Just like how you're aware that Easy Cheese is supposed to be cheese, but you know that it really isn't.
For those people who liked the novel, I can see why; the plot is fairly original, the main character is a young adult, and the genre is dystopian/apocalyptic. These, in an honest opinion, are the makings of great story. However where the story falls short was how the story was actaully delivered. In our fast-paced American society, the sci-fi's of this nature are full of action, comedic one-liners, and a love triangle. The story, compared to these standards, made the halfway mark. Not every plot has to be the same to keep audiences going, just a similar amount of action and possibly a greater amount of fear.
In short, when considering a book to read, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer shouldn't be a first option. If a reader is looking for a fast-paced survival story, they could find this novel to be a little dry. Also, if a reader can't stand cheesy one-line jokes, they could find themselves rolling their eyes more than a few times.

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