The eagerly awaited addition to the series begun with the New York Times bestseller Life as We Knew It, in which a meteor knocks the moon off its orbit and the world changes forever.
It's been more than two years since Jon Evans and his family left Pennsylvania, hoping to find a safe place to live, yet Jon remains haunted by the deaths of those he loved. His prowess on a soccer field has guaranteed him a home in a well-protected enclave. But Jon is painfully aware that a missed goal, a careless word, even falling in love, can put his life and the lives of his mother, his sister Miranda, and her husband, Alex, in jeopardy. Can Jon risk doing what is right in a world gone so terribly wrong?
©2013 Susan Beth Pfeffer (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
If you didn't like Book 2, you probably won't like this one. Book 1 & 3 were great, 2 & 4, not so great.
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As a fan of the other three books in Susan Beth Pfeffer's The Last Survivors post-apocalyptic/dystopian young adult series, I'm sorry to say that this novel provided a most unsatisfying end.
This review could easily run away with me, so I'll limit myself to what I see as the two biggest problems of the novel.
First, the premise. I honestly don't know why this wasn't a standalone novel. It makes no sense in the context of the earlier three books. It's set only four years -- four years -- after the natural disaster that defines the series. (A meteor knocked the moon off its orbit and caused catastrophic climactic changes and a series of natural disasters.) Somehow people in that short a period of time have divided so completely into the privileged few in the enclaves and the oppressed drudges, or "grubs," that the elites view the majority as genuinely less than human. (This happens even though membership in an enclave is based on rather random criteria, so that even Ivy League Ph.D.s are living as grub domestics, and nuclear families may be split between the enclaves and "grub" towns.) This genuinely defies belief, as do the living conditions described in the enclaves. I would think that, with the massive climactic changes and challenges, clean drinking water and viable foodstuffs and disease would still be foremost concerns, not playing soccer and choosing nannies. Considering Pfeffer's emphasis in earlier books about how communities fracture and individuals turn against each other in times of crisis, it requires more than a mere suspension of disbelief to go along with the idea that large numbers of people, many of privileged backgrounds themselves, all agreed in concert to accept the rule of the few and subside into slavery so quickly.
Second, the main character. Jon was the baby of his family, the coddled one for whom others sacrificed. That said, in the previous novels he was portrayed as a good-natured and normal boy. Now at seventeen he's one of the most dislikeable protagonists I've come across. I don't simply mean that he's annoying, erratic, weak-willed, and difficult to empathize with, though he is all of these things. He also does despicable acts, from helping to burn down the school where his mother teaches to trying to justify attempted rape and sexual intimidation, all the while winning the affections of a visionary, courageous young woman. (Her lasting attraction to this easily bullied coward is never explained. It's a baffling mystery.) When his semi-redemption comes, it's unconvincing. It's troubling, too, because he seems to be content in excusing away some of his most disturbing behavior.
Matthew Josdal's narration made an already grating character even more whiny and difficult to endure.
There are hints of interesting commentary here, from an implied critique of gated communities to a more overt critique of the celebration of brute violence and groupthink in sports. The corruption that's rife in the administration of Jon's enclave suggests chilling insights into how bureaucracies behave. Unfortunately, these critiques read more like a series of brief rants strung together between one atrocity and the next (and there are serious atrocities committed in this novel, let me assure you) rather than a nuanced, integrated narrative. For example, I would point to Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower for a more complex and sophisticated dystopian study of the gated community, among other subjects. Ironically, although Butler's heroine is both the daughter of a minister and the founder of a new faith, Parable comes across as far less preachy than does Shade of the Moon.
As a standalone novel I would have found this problematic, but as the final conclusion to a compelling and well-loved series, it's an even greater letdown.
Matthew Josdal's performance was cringeworthy at best. The book was difficult enough to get through, but his choppy performance and his inability to use voice inflection in the appropriate places added to my frustration with this book.
I really enjoyed the first 3 books in the series but the 4th book really ruined my enjoyment of the series. The story almost seemed like it was written by a completely different author who knew very little of the first 3 books. John's character was completely unrecognizable from the earlier books and the whole plot surrounding the caste system was implausible, especially given the short time span from when the cataclysmic event happened to the time the 4th book commences. I ended up despising John and didn't really care much for Lisa's character either in this book. I honestly wish the 4th book would not have even been written.
I really, really, REALLY disliked the narrator. Not nearly enough emotions in his voice. The story wasn't much better. I finished the book purely for my own satisfaction of knowing what happened to the characters, but I now realize I could have gone without, and have had a better outcome in my mind.
Pfeffer really let us down on this one. The first books were fantastic. Great reads/listens. Compelling. I cared about the characters. -- This one? Terrible. Just plain terrible. The main character is unapologetically bad -- not like a villain 'bad'. Just dull and menial. I would rather have heard the story from his servant's perspective. And the characters Pfeffer developed in the first novels??? She throws them away. Bland, boring. No connection.
Please read the first books. Do NOT read this book.
Susan yes, Matthew no.
I think I would have enjoyed it, but the narrator was so bad I can't finish the book.
Voice doesn't have a nice flow to it.
Yes, I wanted to hear what had become of the Evans family and it was time to hear John's take on things.
I don't think these post-disaster, dystopian type novels are meant to be enjoyable, they are a commentary on politics and human nature. The last two novels have little love stories within them and I would have liked these to be fleshed out a bit more - not just have characters instantly in-love.
Sure. I didn't find the narration childish at all - maybe a bit clipped but also in keeping with how most teenager boys talk.
There are so many of these types of movies and TV series out now - this one isn't quite gritty or detailed enough to make it on screen.
Sometimes these types of novels move too quickly and sweep over things - I appreciated the slow pace within each of the novels and the gut wrenching decisions that the main characters had to make. I read that some people didn't like the main character in this novel, I found him realistic for a seventeen year old boy living in those conditions. I liked how his conscience slowly gets the better of him. I actually found his step-mother Lisa hard to understand and/or like. Miranda (the narrator in the first and third novels) is my favorite character and I would have preferred to keep listening to her story and I liked getting the updates on what she was going through.
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