Oh. My. God. I both hated and loved this book. I hated it because honestly - it scares the shit out of me, the "what if" part. I loved it because while it was scaring me, there's hope and human spirit shining through.
This is the second in a trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer - The Moon Books. The first books was Life As We Knew It. There is a third book out now, called This World We Live In (HardCover). I do have it available to read on Net Galley, but I haven't been able to sit for more than an hour at a time at my computer - which doesn't allow me to read online fiction unless it's a chapter here and there - that would take me a very long time to read a novel.
The premise of the first two books is that a meteor has hit the moon - knocking it out of orbit and extremely close to the earth. This has caused tsunami's (right away) and later earthquakes, volcanic reactions, high tides, etc. The whole world goes into survivor mode. In the first book, we find out, diary style, how a family living in an inland small town handles the first year. Some people come together, some are paranoid, all are fighting for survivor. (Miranda's story)
In this second book, we meet Alex Morales and his two sisters Briana and Julie. Brianna is a ladylike, devout 15 year old, and Julie is a 12 year old youngest child, who has been spoiled by the family. They live in New York City. Mom has gone to her first day (or so) at a job in a hospital. Their father is in Puerto Rico at their grandmother's funeral. Alex has an older brother in the Marines. When disaster strikes, Alex is on his way home - but at first doesn't realize what has happened. All he knows is that the cable went out, and some parts of the city (New York) don't have electricity.
Alex and his sisters find out slowly at first what is going on. Their mom doesn't make it home from the hospital, and no one can get through on the phones. They get a phone call, full of static from someone in Puerto Rico, but no one can understand what was said. They also get a phone call from their brother, saying they are being deployed inland somewhere.
What follows is the story of how Alex keeps his sisters fed and safe for the next year. Food is scarce. Living in a big city during a disaster has it's own problems - The author explores some of them - disease, black market, rats, theft, all the dangers living in a big city already presents, but magnified by extremely desperate people. Electricity is spotty. For Alex, the religious schools that he and his sisters attend are a huge help to them and others in the parish.
I'm sure the author toned down, a bit some of the things that could have happened. But I found Alex's story - they way he handled stress, stepping in to keep his sisters safe, his anger and his fear - intriguing. He went into a strong survival mode, thinking constantly of how they would eat, how they would live. As a young adult (he's 17) he tends to be a bit surprised when events pop up that affect their lives, but I find that believable. With each new disaster, he attempts to do the best he can, all the while feeling guilty, angry and then guilty that he feels angry. The book also shows how the youngest sister, at first seeming to be very selfish and self involved steps up, and has a hidden strength. Julie has had to grow up pretty fast, and though at the beginning of the book, Alex and Julie do not get along at all - by the end they are co-workers and closer to each other.
Even though I hate to think about disasters and people dying, etc., I felt like I had to read this after reading the first novel. The author does a pretty good job of showing the depths that we might stoop to to survive, and touches on some of the horrors of life in a changed world, though thankfully she doesn't get as graphic as she could have gotten. Even through all the horrible things that were happening, there's just that bit of hope that shines through. Because of that I really want to read the third book. I read that the third books are from Miranda's point of view - diary style (?) - but her story and Alex's story come together, during the second year after the Moon disaster. There's also little bits here and there on how the rich people have an easier time of things, and how the "necessary" things and people seem to come first before the regular people. I find that sadly believable.
One of those books that stay with you, long after you finish it.
2010 Countdown Challenge - 2005
POC reading challenge - Puerto Rican Family