Plot Summary: Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, 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.
The premise of this novel is so powerful that, while I was reading, I had many an urge to fill every nook and cranny of my kitchen with non-perishable foods. Probably because I’m a mom, and just the idea of my family being in that situation makes me want to prepare for it. :)
As for the book itself, I enjoyed it. Most of the characters were interesting, some of the messages were a bit one-sided, but it’s still a very powerful story.
As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.
After finishing this book, I read several reviews that slammed the author on her lack of research in science, incomplete portrayal of religion, and flat characters. So, here’s my take on things.
First, let’s look at a few characters that, for me, really stood out. The rest of the characters weren’t nearly as interesting. I think they could have been if we’d seen more of them. But, as it is...
Miranda: a typical teen pushed into an atypical situation – natural events on the scale of the apocalypse. Some teens, when put into extreme situations, will grow up quickly and do what they need to do to help out. Especially in matters of survival, which is what this story is all about. Miranda doesn’t. Some may see that as selfishness, others may see it as denial and wanting to hold on to some semblance of normal. I think the second is what the author was going for, but it didn’t always come across that way. Still, I liked her and enjoyed seeing her grow as a person into doing everything she could to help her family survive.
Mom: I read a few reviews that really criticized the author for turning the mom into a snarling hoard-monster. I can completely understand why she kept food and supplies for only immediate family. Mom Instincts kicked in, and she *had* to provide for her family. That meant she would go without, which she did, and so would everyone else. She’s responsible for her family, no one else is. If her family starves, it’s her fault for not preparing better. That’s a huge burden to bear, and not many would handle it well. Mom didn’t, but her heart was certainly in the right place. Because of this, I thought she was very realistic, if not completely likable.
Megan: Initially, she was annoying, but clearly Miranda’s friend. After one particular scene, however, I hated her. It was the scene in the lunchroom, after Miranda has asked Megan to eat instead of giving half of her food away to the other kids. Megan looks right at Miranda, then gives away *all* of her food. That, plus her continuous holier-than-thou attitude made me wonder why Miranda was even friends with her. I can understand friendship loyalty, but this went too far. Megan went too far.
This leads me to the religious aspect of the book. Many reviewers have said this book paints a one-sided view of Christians. And, I have to say that I agree. The only Christians portrayed are Megan, who I’ve already discussed, and her pastor, who is a selfish extremist. There are Christians in this world who are like this. And there are other Christians who are the opposite. In this kind of story, I’d guess there would be many Christians doing good things, as well as the ones like Megan and her pastor. There would probably be atheists and agnostics converting as well, because that can happen in seriously scary times like this. I think a rounder representation of Christianity would have made the story deeper and richer, because I’d think everyone would be considering his immortal soul...even if he hadn’t believed in it before.
The last thing left is the science. This actually gave me great pause. When the meteor first hits the moon, the effects are instantaneous. Now, I’m not a scientist, or an expert, but I do know a little something about how things move in space. If the moon were hit so hard that it shifted orbit, I don’t think we’d see the effect immediately. There’s a lot of space in space, so, even if something is moving along at a good speed, it still takes a long time to get from point A to point B. Also, once something is moving, it doesn’t stop.
In this story, the meteor hitting the moon is described as pushing the moon sideways, and then it got sort of bigger. Essentially, it shifted into a closer orbit over the period of a few minutes. Realistically, we would see these changes take place over a few days, not a few minutes. If the moon was moving so fast that you could see it get closer to Earth in just a few minutes, that means it’s moving at a seriously fast pace. Which means the impact would have been so intense, large chunks of the moon would have come off. Plus, once it got that much momentum going, it’s not going to stop. It would crash into Earth, effectively ending Life As We Know It.
I do think the author should have made this more realistic. It would have made the premise that much more powerful. And, considering how powerful it already is, can you imagine how amazing the story would have been? Off the charts. Just goes to show how important research is.
Still, this is a story that’s tough to put down. I wanted to know how in the world they were going to keep on going with a disaster like this. I’m glad to say that the ending wasn’t fairy-tale-like, yet had a glimmer of hope that left me with a smile on my face. Good book.