I would start this off with the blurb or something, but the copy of The Dead & The Gone that I bought was from my local bookstore in paperback and it didn’t have a summary on the back. Instead, it had reviews for this novel, along with Pfeffer’s other novel Life As We Knew It.
What sucked me in what the quote on the front, from none other than John Green, whom you all know I adore.
“Riveting… This is a dark and scary novel”
That’s all it really took for me to add it to my pile of books I was purchasing that day!
Unfortunately, I wish I would have left it on the shelf.
First off, apparently this is the second book in The Last Survivors series. It gives no clues to this at all in, around, or in-between the pages of this book- anywhere. I only found out when I was adding it to my Goodreads Currently-Reading list. Luckily, the novel can also be read as a stand-alone, but is that not the most annoying thing ever? What if I had liked the novel and never even knew that there were more in the series? Way to go, Houghton Mifflin Harecourt marketing team.
Okay, to the actual story. It is basically an apocalyptic novel. Not really dystopian, because it doesn’t really take place in the future. Well it might, but it doesn’t specify the year.
An asteroid hits the moon and knocks it out of orbit. We all know that would be disastrous event. The moon helps to control the tides, gravity, etc. Basically, science. Scary right? Wrong. The scariest thing about this novel is that apparently the ‘scientists’ knew that this asteroid was going to hit the moon way in advance, they just didn’t know it would knock it out of orbit. Well, for one…. who are these scientists? How do they not know something like that? For two, how freaking huge is this asteroid? Apparently not anything that would make the moon look like it had been the victim of a giant asteroid impact, because it is just described as looking bigger to our characters on account of it being closer.
The story follows the life of Alex, who is a 17 year-old Puerto Rican New Yorker, and a junior at an apparently prestigious school. He is junior class vice president, applying to Georgetown, and wants to be president of the United States. You would assume then that he is a smart kid.
You assume wrong. So wrong. This kid is not the sharpest tool in the shed, and if there is one thing that is essential in an apocalypse, it’s sharp tools.
Alex is left to fend for himself, and his two younger sisters, since his parents have been missing since the asteroid struck. He is responsible for finding them food, keeping them safe, all that jazz.
There is really little to no character development in Alex until the very end of the book. He becomes sick for a bit and delirious. It isn’t until then that we actually catch a glimpse of his fears and anxieties. With the character development remaining static for the most part in the novel, the story itself seemed unchanging. Nothing really happens. Its the same things day to day, for three-quarters of the book.
I never really felt scared. Sure, the premise of being a teen responsible for two other lives with your parents missing, maybe dead, in a an apocalyptic New York City is terrifying. I just didn’t feel it. I know that part of the responsibility of the reader is to use your imagination to bring the story to life, but the really good ones do the work for you. You don’t need to imagine it, because it is laid out before you to take in. This novel just didn’t it for me.
I won’t be buying any other other books in the series that I didn’t know was a thing. No matter how many John Green quotes are plastered on the front.