Friday, January 31, 2014

The Shade of the Moon - Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: The Shade of the Moon (Final in the Life As We Knew It series)
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publisher: Harcourt, 2013 (Hardcover)
Length: 295 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Apocalyptic Fiction, Dystopian Fiction
Started: January 29, 2014
Finished: January 31, 2014

From the inside cover:

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 Sexton, the well-protected enclave he entered with his stepmother, Lisa, and her son, Gabe, using the three safe-town passes they were given. But Jon is painfully aware that a missed goal, a careless word, even falling in love, can jeopardize his life and that of his sister, Miranda, who lives outside the walls of Sexton. When everything he values is at stake, can Jon risk doing what is right in a world gone so terribly wrong?

I fell in love with this series years ago when i first came across it. Life As We Knew ItThe Dead and the Gone, and This World We Live In are the first three, and when I saw this new instalment listed I jumped on it like you wouldn't believe.

The final book takes place a few years after the group from the first three books leave the east coast and travel inland. Jon, Lisa, and Gabe live in Sexton, the enclave they got into using Alex's passes. Sexton and the community just outside of it, White Birch, are very divided. Sexton is made up of the privileged clavers and the "grubs" of White Birch are lucky if they can get jobs in Sexton as workers and domestic servants. Clavers know the grubs outnumber them, so they keep them under their collective thumb at any opportunity, treating them as second-class citizens at best, and near slaves at worst. Grubs have no amenities, struggle to find food, and work in hazardous conditions; practically every social nicety, safety net, and civil right have disappeared. The line between human decency and unspeakable cruelty becomes blurred as violence breaks out between the communities. Jon must decide whether he sides with his friends in Sexton or his family in White Birch, and what kind of man he really wants to be.

What I really liked in this book was that it started to show the early signs of being a dystopia rather than just a post-apocalyptic scenario. We can clearly see the lines being drawn between groups, and how things begin to escalate from just kind of disliking the "other"to full on treating the other as subhuman.

There's a plethora of heavy material in this book: lots of violence and death (pretty graphic at some points), rape scenes, plus triggers for infant loss and kidnapping, so be warned. I was actually kind of surprised at the amount of content...maybe I'm getting old...

Excellent conclusion to a series that doesn't really have an easy, happy end. Beware of all the questionable content listed above if you're a sensitive reader.

Thoughts on the cover:
I like the continuation from the previous covers, this time showcasing Sexton beneath the moon.

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