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Life As We Knew It Book by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Updated on October 20, 2012

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is the first book in the Last Survivors series. The series is also known as the Moon Crash trilogy. The books are an apocalyptic science fiction series for young adults, though adults can be just as enthralled by them.

The book is in a diary style format written by Miranda, an average teenage girl living in Howell, PA. In the beginning of the story Miranda talks about normal things going on with her family, school, and her friends. Things don’t stay normal for long, though.

Everyone in her town is abuzz with the news that a meteor is going to hit the moon. Little did anyone suspect that the collision would change their lives forever.

Instead of hitting the moon and just creating a new crater, the meteor tilts the moon off its axis and knocks it closer in orbit to the earth.

The change in the moon sets off a chain of terrible reactions on the earth. Massive waves begin pummeling the coasts worldwide. Entire cities become submerged underwater. Hundreds of thousands of people die from the flooding.

A massive lightning storm knocks out the power forcing everyone in Miranda’s school to cower in the hallway. Then the earthquakes and volcano eruptions increase dramatically because of the stronger pull of gravity from the moon. The volcanic ash enters the atmosphere causing the sky to be gray and blocking out the sun.

The Dead and the Gone
The Dead and the Gone

Book 2 in the Last Survivors series.

Life as We Knew It
Life as We Knew It

Book 1 in the Last Survivors series.


Food Becomes Scarce


The day after the moon crash, Miranda’s mother picks her and her brother Jonny up from school.  She takes them and Mrs. Nesbitt, a family friend, to the grocery store.  Because of the crash and power outages, the grocery store is a madhouse.  By the time they are done, the grocery store shelves are empty. 

Miranda and her family grab cart after cart of groceries.  They have enough food to last them for awhile if they are careful.  Matt, Miranda’s older brother comes home from college, so he is also eating their rations.

Conditions become worse and worse.  Utility service becomes a luxury.  More and more of the time the town must make do with no electricity.  Businesses, especially restaurants, are boarded up and closed indefinitely.  Food supplies are low.  Even the mail service is no longer dependable. 

People’s behavior becomes more desperate as well.  Many of Miranda’s friends leave town looking for a place where life is better, if that even exists.  Another of her friends is giving away her already meager food portions.  Families keep more to themselves to protect what little they have.  Even the hospital hires armed guards. 

Cold weather comes earlier because of the layer of ash blocking out the sun.  So there is no hope of growing more food.  When the snow begins, and the blizzard is deep enough to keep them homebound possibly all winter, Miranda and her family live in fear of what new disaster may come next.   

Book Trailer for the Series



Once I began reading the book, I was so engrossed I felt as if I were living in the house with Miranda surviving on next to nothing to eat. It is a book that is hard to put down. I had to keep reading because I had to know what would happen next.

There are incredibly sad moments, but they are tempered with the idea that the human spirit can endure much before breaking.

The story is very plausible. It could happen tomorrow. Any other major world catastrophe could set off the same chain of events seen in the book. The characters in the book are very relatable.  They react in a believable way. 

Life As We Knew It will have you thinking about how prepared you are for an emergency. It will have you thinking about survival kits and back up sources of heat. You will be forming your own survival plan as you read.

End of the World Poll

What would you miss most if life as we knew it came to an end?

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Gray Skies


Book Overview


Howell, PA, modern times


  • Miranda Evans – narrator, 16 year old, likes swimming and skating
  • Laura Evans – Miranda’s mother, divorced from Miranda’s dad, writer
  • Jonny Evans – Miranda’s younger brother, 13 year old, loves baseball
  • Matt Evans – Miranda’s older brother, attended college at Cornell
  • Hal – Miranda’s dad, remarried to Lisa, expecting another child, lives in Springfield
  • Lisa – Miranda’s stepmom, pregnant
  • Horton – family cat, 10 years old, likes Jonny best
  • Mrs. Nesbitt – Long time family friend and neighbor, elderly
  • Dr. Peter Elliot – boyfriend of Laura, works at the hospital
  • Dan – Miranda’s boyfriend, on the swim team
  • Megan – Miranda’s friend, very religious
  • Sammi – Miranda’s friend, promiscuous

Major Themes:

  • Luxury versus necessity
  • The importance of family
  • How people react to disaster
  • What people will do to survive
  • Hope and endurance
  • Civilization versus chaos
  • Man versus nature
  • Dealing with loss

Book Guide for Life As We Knew It.


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    • cocopreme profile image

      Candace Bacon 5 years ago from Far, far away

      Rebekah - There isn't a huge amount of physical description given for each of the characters. So really, any actor that is in their age range will work. Hair colors can be changed for movies. The mom should be someone in her 40's or so. Matt should be a guy in his 20's. Miranda should look like a teenager. And Jonny should look like someone who hasn't fully reached puberty yet. Browse through for actors and actresses.

    • profile image

      Rebekah 5 years ago

      Can anyone tell me some good actors and actresses for the main characters listed above for a book report that's due tomorrow?

    • cocopreme profile image

      Candace Bacon 5 years ago from Far, far away

      Think about what each of the character's strengths are and how they pass their time. Hope that helps.

    • profile image

      Ana Henry 5 years ago

      so i have a pre-test on the characters and how each one of them has their way of surviving! ANY HELPERS wanna help me ??? :) PLEASE

    • profile image

      Ana Henry 5 years ago

      heyy peepz ! :)

    • profile image

      cocopreme2 5 years ago

      Hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hihihihihihihihihihi

    • cocopreme profile image

      Candace Bacon 6 years ago from Far, far away

      steven - Horton is described as an old cat (about 10 years old). He is closer to Jonny than the rest of the family. In chapter 4, Horton starts running around and acting crazy because of all of the changes going on.

    • profile image

      steven 6 years ago

      How is horton described in the book

    • cocopreme profile image

      Candace Bacon 6 years ago from Far, far away

      Franklin - I'm glad it helped you. Hope you got a good grade.

    • profile image

      Franklin 6 years ago

      i had to write a book report on this book and this website helped me a lot

    • cocopreme profile image

      Candace Bacon 6 years ago from Far, far away

      syd - I think so. The story is easy to read and draws you in. The characters are easy to identify with. The situation could happen so it is even a bit frightening. If a world wide disaster happened, many of the things the characters experience could be real. I didn't want to put the book down because I wanted to know what would happen.

    • profile image

      syd 6 years ago

      is this book good

    • cocopreme profile image

      Candace Bacon 6 years ago from Far, far away

      Susan Beth Pfeffer was inspired by the movie Meteor. It made her think about what kids would feel and do during a major disaster. Here are a couple of links that discuss her inspirations more:

    • profile image

      Dust 6 years ago

      What gave you the idea to make you write life as we knew it.

    • cocopreme profile image

      Candace Bacon 6 years ago from Far, far away

      Vivi - Jonny is allowed to eat more than the others because he is still growing. Children need more nutrients than adults because their bodies are still developing. Miranda and Matt are nearly grown, so their bodies don't need as much food.

      Also, the think Jonny might have a better chance to survive, so they are helping to increase his chance of living by giving him extra food. Of all of them he has the best chance of living the longest to reestablish society.

    • profile image

      Vivi 6 years ago

      Why is jonny allowed to eat more than the others?

      Simeone please answer this for me.


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