Review of “The Shade of the Moon” by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This is the fourth book 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, who is 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.

Rating: 2/5

Published by Harcourt, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2013


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9 Responses to Review of “The Shade of the Moon” by Susan Beth Pfeffer

  1. sandynawrot says:

    I was pretty surprised to hear about this book, since I really felt it “ended” with the third. At least I was satisfied with where they left it. I really liked the characters in the first three books too, so…I don’t know, this book might feel like an afterthought? I’m not sure I’m all that interested in reading it.

  2. Beth F says:

    I was happy to read this one and I think the door is open for another book about the new place. But I agree that Jon was never one of my favorite characters.

  3. I didn’t know another of these books was in the works. Good to know it’s missable–I found the first one so so so frightening and never worked up the guts to read the subsequent ones. If this one had been really good I’d have considered diving back in.

  4. bookingmama says:

    I have the first one sitting in a gift closet for Booking Daughter but I’m still not sure she’d love it!

  5. BermudaOnion says:

    This series is probably not for me.

  6. stacybuckeye says:

    Rats! I finally picked up the first in the series but now you’re telling me it just peters out 😦

  7. I didn’t know there’s a 4th book! I hardly remember what had happened though so I’d prob skip this…

  8. Charlie says:

    I might’ve picked up the first book but what you’ve said here sounds so samey. I suppose the splitting of society makes ‘sense’, in a dystopian way, but if the PhDs are scrubbing floors, what’s the use in Jon going to school?

  9. I skimmed your review because I haven’t decided if I’m going to read the book yet. I’ve read all of the others in the series. I have this one on my table, and even read part of the first chapter. I’m just not sure – it’s not really grabbing me, but then I don’t feel like I’ve given it a good chance, especially because it’s been ages since I read the previous books.

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