This is book four in the post-apocalyptic series by Pfeffer about life on earth after the moon has been knocked from its orbit. I had thought the series was a trilogy, and maybe it originally was, but now there is this fourth book to fill us in on what happened to the survivors of the previous books.
I enjoyed the first book, Life As We Knew it (see my review here), but I wasn’t as much of a fan of the next two (The Dead & The Gone and This World We Live In). This newest one appealed to me the least.
We pick up two years after the last book left off, in an enclave of survivors that now has two classes of people: the “clavers” who have gotten into the enclave, and the “grubs” who do domestic work for the more “valuable” clavers. (Value is loosely determined but seems to have been – originally, at least – intended to designate the skills that could contribute the most to future of the planet.)
The focus is on Jon Evans, seventeen, and in high school in The Clave in Sexton, Tennessee. His mom and surviving siblings live in the nearby grub town of White Birch. Jon lives with his stepmom Lisa and her little son Gabe. There were only three passes to The Clave for the family, and this is how they decided they would be best used. Jon and Lisa and Gabe aren’t technically clavers; they are called “slips” because they “slipped in” on the passes, and so they are scorned by Clavers, but not hated as badly as grubbers.
Jon has absorbed the prejudices of his classmates, but his worldview is put to the test when he falls in InstaLove with a new girl, Sarah, whose father is the new clinic doctor for the grubs. In spite of Jon’s troglodyte-like attitudes and history of Very Bad Behavior With Girls, Sarah, too, falls into InstaLove. But Sarah happens to hold the radical view that people are people – even grubs, and this could get them all into trouble, threatening their very lives.
Discussion: There is not much world-building in this book; it is assumed you know what happened in the first three books. Indeed, because it had been a while since I read them, I struggled a bit with picking up the threads of the story. It was also hard to like Jon, who is the main protagonist. Yes, the whole idea is that he “grows,” but both his piggishness in the beginning and his transition to sainthood by the end were a little too unconvincing to me. I also just wasn’t buying the sudden division of the world into these two groups; it just didn’t make sense to me that former Ph.D.s would put up with a life scrubbing floors, when they had the intellectual wherewithal to do something about it.
Evaluation: Fans of the first three books of this series will appreciate knowing what happens two years after the last book, because, doesn’t one always want to know what the author decides will happen? Not recommended as a standalone.
Published by Harcourt, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2013