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Literature / Moon Crash Series

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Life As We Knew It is a Speculative Fiction teen novel by Susan Beth Pfeffer, told from the point of view of a teenage girl named Miranda Evans in the form of her diary, which she begins writing in May of an unspecified year probably around the early-mid 2000s. Initially, things are normal, and Miranda is looking forward to the upcoming prom and her dad and stepmother have told her that they want her to be the godmother of the child they are expecting. Everyone is eagerly anticipating an interesting astronomical event: an incoming meteor that is supposed to crash into the moon. Miranda just looks at it as another excuse for extra homework assignments. However, most people are looking at it as a once in a lifetime chance to see an event like this. Miranda's mother has even baked cookies in honor of the occasion. But no one anticipates the moon being knocked closer in orbit to the earth and the havoc it causes. The climate is drastically altered, the coastal areas are hit with tsunamis, the supermarkets are closing as food runs short, the price of gas has risen to over ten dollars, electricity is no longer a guarantee, and the lists of the dead are expanding. It's The End of the World as We Know It, though no one wants to admit it.

The author of this series says she was inspired to write the first book in the Moon Crash Series, Life As We Knew It, by watching Meteor. She says "it got [her] thinking about how the people who have the most to lose if the world comes to an end are kids" and wanted to write about how kids would cope with this particular scenario. There are three other books in the series, which are:

  • The Dead and the Gone, told from the point of view of Alex Morales, a young Puerto Rican teenager living in New York City dealing with the meteor strike. Both his parents are immediately killed in the incident, and it's up to him to protect his two sisters and find the food to support them.
  • This World We Live In, where Miranda is reunited with her father and step mother, who have brought Alex with them. The two get together while dealing with the stresses of survival, and toy with the idea of moving to a recovered city.
  • The Shade of the Moon: Miranda's brother, Jon, lives with his step mother and half brother in a city populated by those with skills that helped them weather The End of the World as We Know It, while dealing with old guilt and the knowledge that most of his family is forced to live in the slums for those who aren't as useful.

This series includes the following tropes

Tropes in Life As We Knew It

  • After the End: The bulk of the novels take place after the Moon is knocked closer to the earth by an asteroid, resulting in a drastically altered climate and much more extreme weather and tides bringing down most of civilization.
  • Amicable Exes: Miranda says her parents tried really hard to have a "good divorce."
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: When she realizes that things will most likely get worse after the stores are being mobbed and sold out, Laura gets serious with enlisting her children's help with getting as much stuff and they can. Inverted, though, when she also goes against her usual charitable nature and refuses to give supplies to the local drive to get supplies for needy people in New York and New Jersey, though it's justified, given that the danger in giving up supplies that might be necessary later on as well as giving any hint that you have plenty for others to steal. The whole family goes to great lengths to ensure each other's survival.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Miranda begins her diary about a week before the asteroid crashes into the Moon, after which she details how her family survives the aftermath. The total entries actually span multiple diaries, journals, and even just spare sheets of paper, although no change is ever shown to the audience to indicate when this happens.
  • Apocalypse How: Starts out as a Class 1 but once the volcanoes start erupting and the ash obscures the sun it rapidly turns into a Class 2.
  • Artistic License – Space: It would take a downright gigantic object to move the Moon out of its orbit, probably at least as big as Ceres (the largest asteroid, now considered a dwarf planet) and far larger than the one in the story. Even if that did happen, it's more likely that the moon would break up and form a ring around the earth, rather than simply moving closer.
  • Author Filibuster: It's apparent that the author is anti-Bush and hates Fox News.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: A novel which details so much death, pain, and apocalyptic events has an opening line announcing a pregnancy.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The End of the World as We Know It has happened, Megan, Peter, and Mrs. Nesbitt have died, Miranda doesn't know if her dad, stepmother, and half-sibling are alive, the whole family remains malnourished, and it's clear that things will never get back to normal, but Miranda has lived to see her seventeenth birthday, the whole family is now getting food delivered, and it genuinely looks like they're going to make it through winter.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Miranda, the 16 year old heroine, starts out as this, but of course the apocalypse brings out the best in her.
  • The Caretaker: After The Plague hits, Miranda is the only member of her family who doesn't get sick and goes to great lengths to ensure her family's survival.
  • Coming of Age Story: Miranda starts out as a Bratty Teenage Daughter who is mainly concerned about herself and then The End of the World as We Know It happens and brings out the best in her. Her mother even lampshades this by correcting herself when she tells Miranda what a special girl she is to tell her what a special woman she is.
  • Corrupt Church: Miranda's former best friend, Megan, turns to God after their friend dies (before the book starts). The church tells her not to eat and she dies of starvation. It is also revealed that the priest at said church was taking food from his church members.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The sheer amount of stuff they got really comes in handy when things get rough in the winter.
  • Cult: As the world is ending, religious people are not only flocking to Reverend Marshall's church out of understandable panic, they're spending almost all of their time there, and even sleeping there. Megan says one day that it's the first time she's left the church in a while and that they only sleep for one or two hours at a time so they can keep praying.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: It's only said that Becky was sick before she died, but it can be discerned from details in the narration that Becky died of cancer.
  • Driven to Suicide: Megan's mother after Megan herself has died.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When their food finally runs out, Miranda decides that, instead of withering away in the house and watching her family do the same, she'll head to town with the hope of learning if Lisa had her baby or not. She not only knows, but prepares, for the fact that she will not have the strength to return home and will die upon reaching the post office.
  • The Fundamentalist: Megan has come to be obsessed with church and following the doctrines of Christianity. She becomes even more so to a frightening degree after things get worse.
  • Glacial Apocalypse: An asteroid impact sends the Moon closer to the Earth, causing it to exert a stronger gravitational pull that, in addition to powerful storms, extreme tides and tidal waves, causes increased volcanism worldwide. The immense quantities of ash and dust sent into the atmosphere cover much of the sky, dramatically lowering the Earth's temperature; frosts become common in August at the mid-latitudes and agriculture becomes effectively impossible, leading to widespread famine. The novels are told through the diaries of a number of teenagers caught in the cataclysm as they try to survive the lack of food, intense cold, gradual collapse of society and unpredictable weather extremes.
  • Irony: In one of Miranda's dreams, she sees an old teacher of hers, who tells her "don't be careless" as he always told them when doing schoolwork... before he died running a red light.
  • Married to the Job: Dr. Peter Elliot; especially sad when he dies trying to care for people at the hospital.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Miranda’s mother is an author. It’s mentioned her publishers and editors died in the floods.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: Averted. When gas becomes very expensive and hard to get hold of, the Evanses ride their bikes everywhere until the snow arrives.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: While the president is never named, him mentioning his ranch in Texas makes it pretty obvious who he’s supposed to be.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Miranda's mother tells Mrs. Nesbitt to get lots of Tampax for herself and Miranda. Miranda also notes in her diary of getting her period once.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. One of the major concerns is how to deal with everyone's bodily wastes.
  • The Plague: Another disaster on top of everything else.
  • Posthumous Character: Becky, a friend of Miranda, Sammi, and Megan's before she died of cancer.
  • Practically Different Generations: After getting remarried to a younger woman, Miranda's father gets his new wife pregnant. All his other kids are already teenagers.
  • Retail Riot: Miranda uses a shopping cart to attack a man who is trying to take Mrs. Nesbitt's own shopping cart. People are fighting as the grocery store is rapidly cleared out.
  • Scavenger World: the United States is on its way to becoming like this.
  • Sinister Minister: Reverend Marshall is unquestionably corrupt. As The End of the World as We Know It gets progressively worse, people flock to his church in religious panic and even give him their food. Reverend Marshall accepts the food, even though the people giving it to him are starving and in need of it, and he is only too happy to tell Miranda about how he deliberately didn't bury Megan's mother just because she was a suicide.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Laura is very worried about this happening to Miranda and does not want this to happen to her. Justified as Miranda having a baby would mean a threat to the whole family's survival.
  • Too Dumb to Live: With people dying and leaving left, right and centre, you would think the Evans family would check the empty houses for supplies. They might hold respect for the dead, but still.
    • In the third book, they do start house raiding, and it's implied that they didn't before because of Laura's scruples, or that other raiders would fight them for it. When they do empty their neighbour's house they are super cautious about it.
    • At least until the first snow, houses are getting ransacked pretty much as soon as they’re no longer occupied. Families are considered to have first dibs, which is why the Evanses get as much as they do from Mrs Nesbitt’s house.
  • Tough Love: Laura shows this toward all of her children, making very little effort to soften the reality of the apocalyptic scenario around them.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The effects of the moon crash gradually get worse and worse as the months roll by.

Tropes in The Dead and the Gone:

  • Apocalypse Anarchy: Stealing from corpses on the street to get food on the black market.
  • Big Applesauce: Set in New York City.
  • Brick Joke: When Alex was packing Bri toothbrushes for the convent, he was unsure which one was hers, so he just packed every toothbrush they had but his. Later, Alex is finally able to contact Bri at the convent, she mentions the other girls have given her the nickname "Brush" because she came with so many toothbrushes.
  • Good Counterpart: The Catholic Church compared to the church in the first book. More specifically, Father Franco and Father Malrooney to Reverend Marshall.
  • Grave Robbing: Kevin and Alex steal belongings from the dead people lying around in the city. They trade the stolen items in for cans of food.
    • Robbing the Dead: Julie is appropriately horrified when a man falls to the sidewalk right in front of them and Alex immediately starts looking for valuables when the man isn't even dead yet.
  • Monumental Damage: The tidal waves produced by the moon's gravitational shift destroy the Statue of Liberty.
  • Parental Abandonment: Alex's parents almost certainly died the first night of the moon crash, leaving Alex and his sisters to fend for themselves.
  • Promotion to Parent: With their parents missing (and almost certainly dead) since the first night of the crash and their eldest brother Carlos halfway across the country with the Marines, Alex becomes the de facto guardian of his younger sisters.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Father Malrooney at first comes off as cold and stern in his demands of his students and his obsession with maintaining the rules even in the face of the collapse of civilization, but he ends up becoming a mentor and confidante for Alex and ultimately saves Alex and his sister by getting them out of New York disguised as members of the Church.
  • Snow Means Death: Kevin is killed during a snowstorm by a tree branch
  • Too Dumb to Live: Even though Bri was sickly, and had trouble walking, using the elevator when there are blackouts that last for days, and when there is no maintenance staff to rescue someone trapped in a stuck one was an idiotic move.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Bri, who died as an indirect result of holding onto the almost impossible chance that her parents were still alive and trying to comfort them.
  • The Unfavorite: Alex dislikes Julie for most of the book. However, towards the end of the book and all through the next one, he is shown to be fiercely protective of her and obviously loves her very much. This is most likely because Julie undergoes great maturity throughout the story (which means she is no longer the brat Alex disliked so much) as well as her being the only family Alex has left.

Tropes in This World We Live In:

  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Gone more in-depth: Gabe was born on Christmas Day, while countless people are dying. People are willing to make sacrifices for him to survive and are moved by his existence.
  • Love at First Sight: Matt meets Syl one night and marries her the next day. It seems likely that Syl goes along with it because it means she'll be protected and have a home, not because she loves him.
  • Mercy Kill: Miranda kills Julie in her sleep once her neck is broken in the storm, her brother is missing, and the family isn't sure how they're going to survive in the aftermath of the tornado.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Julie breaks her neck and is quietly smothered.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In the summary given in the jacket notes, it mentions that a tornado devastates the town, an event that doesn't happen until the book is nearly over.

Tropes in The Shade of the Moon:

  • Childless Dystopia: While teens and older children are thriving now, there are a lot of people who didn't survive the initial chaos of the moon changing orbit. The current living conditions in the country also reduced a lot of peoples odds of conceiving. Gabe is one of the few small children in the enclave, and Miranda is one of the only pregnant girls for miles. Lisa worries that she may be booted from the enclave just because someone who wants a child expects her to leave Gabe with someone who could provide for him, and Miranda is told her child died within minutes of its birth so it could be given to a influential family that couldn't conceive.
  • Date Rape Averted: Jon tried to have sex with Julie before she broke her neck, and the injury resulted from her fleeing him. He tries to justify it by saying it would have been a Near-Rape Experience if she'd only made it clear she didn't want it, but in the flashback he pretty blatantly ignores that she didn't, and insists on believing she was only afraid of what Alex would think.
  • From Bad to Worse: Things are dysfunctional, but bearable for most prior to the soccer game with White Birch. When Tyler takes advantage of one of the grub players suddenly dying to unfairly win the first game the enclave had a chance of losing, a riot breaks out, resulting in the deaths and disappearances of several hundred people. Laura is among them.
  • My Greatest Failure: Jon and Julie were safe when the tornado first hit. But then Jon scared her out into the storm.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Hal dies between the end of the previous book and the start of this one. Laura is hung in front of the White Birch school and shot when she tries to keep her students from being taken away after the riot. Lisa later shoots herself and leaves a suicide note with false information to keep anyone else from being suspected when they steal Miranda's baby back.
  • Urban Segregation: The enclave has air purification systems in its buildings, food, decent education, and though everyone old enough to work does, most of the jobs are pleasant. The surrounding towns are filthy, and dangerous. The people living there work long, hard hours and get very little pay. There is only as much food as is necessary, the air is filthy, and not a single building can be locked.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Sarah is the only kid in the enclave who seems to realize that being less privileged does not make a person inhuman. Jon, most of whose family is less privileged than himself, cannot say the same, but still acts like he's better than many of the other clavers.

Alternative Title(s): Life As We Knew It, The Dead And The Gone