Cover image for The dead and the gone
The dead and the gone
1st U.S. ed.
Publication Information:
Orlando [Fla.] : Harcourt, 2008.
Physical Description:
1 online resource (321 p.)
Target Audience:
Ages 12 and up.
A Junior Library Guild selection
After a meteor hits the moon and sets off a series of horrific climate changes, seventeen-year-old Alex Morales must take care of his sisters alone in the chaos of New York City.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader Grades 5-8 4.3 12 Quiz 122569 English fiction.


Material Type
Shelf Number
Internet Site XX(796070.1) 1

On Order



Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event--an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex's parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

As riveting as Life as We Knew It and even grittier, this companion novel returns to the premise of that previous book to show how New York City responds to the global disasters that ensue when an asteroid knocks the moon out of orbit. This time Pfeffer focuses on high school junior Alex Morales, whose parents go missing after the catastrophe. It's up to him to find a way to keep himself and his two younger sisters alive while the planet is rocked by famine, floods, freezing temperatures and widespread disease. Once again Pfeffer creates tension not only through her protagonist's day-to-day struggles but also through chilling moral dilemmas: whether to rob the dead, who to save during a food riot, how long to preserve the hope that his parents might return. She depicts death and destruction more graphically than before, making the horror of Alex's ordeal all the more real. Religion also plays a larger role. A devout Catholic, Alex finds his faith in God shaken, but he relies on the guidance, compassion and sacrifice of church leaders in order to stay alive. The powerful images and wrenching tragedies will haunt readers. Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Pfeffer's stellar Life As We Knew It followed the increasingly bleak subsistence of a girl in suburban Pennsylvania after an asteroid knocked the moon out of orbit. This not-as-satisfying companion tracks the aftermath of the same disaster for too-good-to-be-true Alex and his sisters in post-asteroid New York City. In terms of characterization and plot, this book is less affecting than the first volume. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In Life as We Knew It (2005), veteran writer Pfeffer painted a terrifying picture of what happened in a rural Pennsylvania town after an asteroid hit the moon and cataclysmic changes on land and sea caused familiar life to grind to a halt. For readers who wondered if things were any better in a bustling city, here is the horrifying answer. On the night the moon tilts, 17-year-old Alex and his younger sisters are alone; their mother is at work, and their father is visiting Puerto Rico. No matter how the kids wish, hope, and pray, their parents don't return. It's up to Alex to do what's best. At first that means bartering for food and batteries and avoiding fighting with the rambunctious Julie especially after sickly Bri is sent to live at a rural convent. Later it means rescuing Julie from rapists and steering her away from the corpses that litter the street, providing food for rats. Religion is one of the strong threads running through the novel. It would have been interesting to see Alex wrestle more with his staunch Catholicism, but in many ways, the Church anchors the plot. The story's power, as in the companion book, comes from readers' ability to picture themselves in a similiar situation; everything Pfeffer writes about seems wrenchingly plausible.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2008 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

THE past year has seen the publication of more than a dozen post-apocalyptic young adult novels that explore what the future could look like once our unsustainable lifestyles cease to be sustained. (Spoiler alert: It's gonna be bad.) Amid this rising sea of dystopias, two books stand apart: "The Dead and the Gone," by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and "The Hunger Games," by Suzanne Collins. While some young adult novels are content to read the way bad sci-fi movies look, both these books transcend their premises with terrifyingly well-imagined futures and superb characterization. Unlike most of the recent dark visionary fictions, "The Dead and the Gone," a companion to Pfeffer's acclaimed "Life as We Knew It," explores an apocalyptic event not of our making: in the near future an asteroid hits the moon, changing tides and weather patterns so profoundly that human life in New York City becomes nearly impossible. Seventeen-year-old Alex Morales must take care of his family, because his mother doesn't return home from her hospital job in Queens and his father is missing in Puerto Rico. Alex and his sisters attend Catholic school, and they all struggle with the complexity of faith in the wake of an unbearable (and for most, unsurvivable) act of God. What makes "The Dead and the Gone" so riveting is its steadfast resistance to traditional ideas of hope in children's books - which is to say this is a dark and scary novel. But it is not without hope. Alex and his sisters receive some assistance from the government: there are weekly, if meager, bags of food for those who stand in line for hours. Most of their help and hope, though, comes from the church, and the tension between faith and disaster keeps the story taut. Pfeffer subtly explores the complexity of believing in an omnipotent God in the wake of an event that, if it could have been prevented, surely would have been. Some of the plot seems more symbolically resonant than realistic - Alex, for instance, takes coats and shoes from dead people to trade for food, and it's hard to imagine a shoe shortage in a mostly depopulated Manhattan. But the story's climax and resolution feel achingly right. Pfeffer subverts all our expectations of how redemption works in teenage fiction, as Alex learns to live, and have faith, in a world where radical unfairness is the norm. Suzanne Collins's brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced new novel, "The Hunger Games," is set much farther in the future but grapples with many of the same questions. Collins, the author of "The Underland Chronicles," a well-regarded fantasy series, has now written a futuristic novel every bit as good and as allegorically rich as Scott Westerfeld's "Uglies" books. "The Hunger Games" begins long after the human population has been decimated by climate change and the wars that followed. Now North America is the nation of Panem, a country with 12 fenced-in districts that all work to feed the enormously wealthy and technologically advanced capital. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, the poorest of them all. Her father died mining in the Seam years ago, and now her family survives thanks to her mother's knowledge of herbal medicine and Katniss's own illegal hunting and gathering outside the district's fence. THE archetype of the girl survivalist is familiar - she's tough and resourceful, but kind and sentimental. We are put on notice that Katniss is something different in Chapter 1, when she describes a lynx who followed her around while she hunted. In many books, that lynx would be Katniss's best friend. But not this one: "I finally had to kill the lynx because he scared off game. I almost regretted it because he wasn't bad company. But I got a decent price for his pelt." Long ago in Panem, there was a District 13. The district revolted, and the Capital demolished it and killed all its inhabitants. To commemorate the event - and to remind the districts of its power - the Capital organizes the annual hunger games. First comes the reaping: one boy and one girl are chosen from each district to attend the games. Then the games themselves: a fight to the death among 24 teenage competitors in a sprawling environment controlled by sadistic game masters. The event is watched by the whole nation on live TV. The winner - and there can be only one - returns to his or her home district triumphant and rich. When the reaping comes to District 12, Katniss isn't chosen - but her little sister is. In a harrowing moment, Katniss sacrifices herself to the games instead. She's certain this is a death sentence - no one from the underfinanced and undernourished District 12 has won in decades. But as the games begin, Katniss's intelligence and accumulated knowledge about edible plants and hunting become an advantage over the better-fed, stronger kids with wealthy patrons who can send them medicine or weapons. As the contest progresses, Katniss develops a relationship with the boy from her district. But not even she seems to know whether her feelings are real or faked for the omnipresent cameras. The concept of the book isn't particularly original - a nearly identical premise is explored in "Battle Royale," a wondrously gruesome Japanese novel that has been spun off into a popular manga series. Nor is there anything spectacular about the writing - the words describe the action and little else. But the considerable strength of the novel comes in Collins's convincingly detailed world-building and her memorably complex and fascinating heroine. In fact, by not calling attention to itself, the text disappears in the way a good font does: nothing stands between Katniss and the reader, between Panem and America. This makes for an exhilarating narrative and a future we can fear and believe in, but it also allows us to see the similarities between Katniss's world and ours. American luxury, after all, depends on someone else's poverty. Most people in Panem live at subsistence levels, working to feed the cavernous hungers of the Capital's citizens. Collins sometimes fails to exploit the rich allegorical potential here in favor of crisp plotting, but it's hard to fault a novel for being too engrossing. Both Collins and Pfeffer plan sequels to their books - here's hoping civilization can hang around long enough to publish them. John Green won the Michael L. Printz Award with "Looking for Alaska." His most recent novel is "Paper Towns." Two novels set in a chilling future where civilizaton barely survives.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Susan Beth Pfeffer's apocalyptic, coming-of-age novel (Harcourt, 2008) immediately draws listeners into a terrifyingly macabre world where life as we know it ceases to exist. "Wednesday, May 18.At the moment when life as he had known it changed forever, Alex Morales was behind the counter at Joey's Pizza, slicing a spinach pesto pie into eight roughly equal pieces." Alex is clueless to the events unfolding around him. His mother has been called in to work at the hospital, his father is at the funeral of his grandmother in Puerto Rico, and his brother Carlos is away from home in the Marines. So when Alex's parents fail to return home following unimaginably catastrophic environmental events caused by the collision of an asteroid and the moon, the teenager becomes protector, provider, and parent to his two younger sisters. Alex's strict upbringing in a close-knit Catholic, Puerto Rican family is called into question when he is forced to do immoral and unethical acts, such as body shopping-stripping the valuables from corpses lying in the streets-to barter for things they need to survive. Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It (Harcourt, 2006) looked at the event from a small-town perspective; this companion novel looks at the same incident set in New York City. Robertson Dean narrates in a rich, clear voice as he reveals the story through Alex's third-person narration. Themes such as our response to climate changes and the failure of society to care for individuals in the event of such a catastrophe will be wonderful discussion starters with middle and high school students.- Beverly S. Almond, East Lee Middle School, Sanford, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Seventeen-year-old Alex, the son of a Puerto Rican New York City working-class family, attends college-prep Vincent de Paul on scholarship. An after-school job and chores assigned by his building superintendent father keep Alex focused on a better future, with ambitions of attending an Ivy League school through study, hard work and a little faith. But when his parents fail to return home after the catastrophic environmental events following the moon's altered gravitational pull, Alex suddenly faces the reality of survival and the obligation to protect his two younger sisters. His moral and religious upbringing is continually put to the test as he finds himself forced to take action that is often gruesome if not unethical--like "body shopping," to collect objects to barter for food. As in the previous novel, Life as We Knew It (2006), realistically bone-chilling despair and death join with the larger question of how the haves and have-nots of a major metropolitan city will ultimately survive in an increasingly lawless, largely deserted urban wasteland. Incredibly engaging. (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



chapter 1Wednesday, May 18At the moment when life as he had known it changed forever, Alex Morales was behind the counter at Joey's Pizza, slicing a spinach pesto pie into eight roughly equal pieces."I ordered an antipasto, also.""It's right here, sir," Alex said. "And your order of garlic knots.""Thanks," the man said. "Wait a second. Aren't you Carlos, Luis's kid?"Alex grinned. "Carlos is my older brother," he said. "I'm Alex.""That's right," the man said. "Look, could you tell your dad there's a problem with the plumbing in twelve B?""My father's away for a few days," Alex said. "He's in Puerto Rico for my grandmother's funeral. But he should be back on Saturday. I'll tell him as soon as he gets home.""Don't worry about it," the man said. "It's waited this long. I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother.""Thank you," Alex said."So where is your brother these days?" the man asked."He's in the Marines," Alex said. "He's stationed at Twentynine Palms, in California.""Good for him," the man said. "Give him my regards. Greg Dunlap, apartment twelve B.""I'll do that," Alex said. "And I'll be sure to tell my father about your plumbing."Mr. Dunlap smiled. "You in school?" he asked.Alex nodded. "I go to St. Vincent de Paul Academy," he said."Good school," Mr. Dunlap said. "Bob, my partner, went there and he says it's the best school in the city. You know where you want to go to college?"Alex knew exactly where he wanted to go, and where he'd be happy to go, and where he would be satisfied to go. "Georgetown's my first choice," he said. "But it depends on the financial package. And if they accept me, of course."Mr. Dunlap nodded. "I'll tell Bob Luis's kid goes to Vincent de Paul," he said. "You two can swap stories someday.""Great," Alex said. "Your bill comes to $32.77."Mr. Dunlap handed him two twenties. "Keep the change," he said. "Put it toward your college fund. And be sure to give Carlos my regards. Luis must be very proud of both his sons.""Thank you," Alex said, passing the pizza, the antipasto, and the bag of garlic knots to Mr. Dunlap. "I'll remember to tell my father about the plumbing as soon as he gets back.""No hurry," Mr. Dunlap said.Alex knew they always said, "No hurry," when they meant "Get it done right now." But a seven-dollar tip guaranteed that Alex would tell Papi about the plumbing problems in 12B the minute he returned from Nana's funeral."The cable's out," Joey grumbled from the kitchen. "Yankees have the bases loaded in the top of the sixth and the cable dies on me.""It's May," Alex said. "What difference does it make?""I have a bet on that game," Joey said.Alex knew better than to point out the game was still going on even if the cable was out. Instead he turned his attention to the next customer, filling her order for two slices of pepperoni pizza and a large Coke.He didn't get away until ten, later than he usually worked, but the pizza parlor was short staffed, and since Joey was cranky without his ball game to watch, Alex didn't think it a good idea just to leave. It was a muggy, overcast night, with the feeling of thunderstorms in the air, but as long as it wasn't raining, Alex enjoyed the walk. He concentrated on Georgetown and his chances of getting in.Being junior class vice president would help, but he had no chance at senior class president. Chris Flynn was sure to win again. Alex had the presidency of the debate squad locked up. But would he or Chris be named editor of the school paper? Alex was weighing the odds between them when his thoughts were interrupted by a man and woman walking out of the Olde Amsterdam Tavern."Come on, honey," the man said. "You might as well. We could be dead by tomorrow."Alex grinned. That sounded like something Carlos would say.But as Alex raced across Broadway, fire engines and ambulances screamed down the avenue with no concern for traffic lights, and he began to wonder what was going on. Turning onto Eighty-eighth Street, he saw clusters of people standing in front of their apartment buildings. There was no laughter, though, no fighting. Some of the people pointed to the sky, but when Alex looked upward, all he saw was cloud cover. One well-dressed woman stood by herself weeping. Then, as Alex walked down the short flight of outdoor steps to his family's basement apartment, the electricity went out. Shaking his head, he unlocked the outside door. Once in the darkened hallway, he knocked on the apartment door."Alex, is that you?" Briana called."Yeah. Let me in," he said. "What's going on?"Bri opened the door. "The electricity just went out," she said. "The cable went out, too.""Alex, where's the flashlight?" Julie asked."Check on top of the fridge," Alex said. "I think there's one there. Where's Mami?""The hospital called," Briana said. "A little while ago. Mami said it's a really big emergency and they need everybody."Julie walked into the living room, waving the flashlight around. "She's only been there two weeks and they can't manage without her," she said."She said they couldn't tell her when she'd get off," Briana said."Papi called while you were gone," Julie said. "He said everyone arrived safely and Nana's funeral is tomorrow. I wish we could have gone with him.""I don't know why," Briana said. "Whenever the family gets together, you always find some excuse not to go.""You'd better be nice," Julie said. "I have the flashlight.""Use it to find the transistor radio," Alex suggested. "Maybe the whole city is blacked out." He thought, not for the first time, how much more convenient things would be if the Morales family could afford a computer. Not that it would be any use in a blackout."I bet it has something to do with the moon," Briana said."Why the moon?" Alex said. "Sunspots cause problems, but I've never heard of moonspots.""Not moonspots," Briana said. "But the moon was supposed to get hit tonight by an asteroid or something. One of my teachers mentioned it. She was going to a meteor party in Central Park to watch.""Yeah, I heard about that at school, too," Alex said. "But I still don't see why an asteroid would knock out the electricity. Or why Mami would be called to the hospital.""The radio isn't working," Briana said, trying to turn it on. "Maybe the batteries are dead.""Great," Alex said. "In that case, why don't you take the flashlight and get ready for bed. Mami'll tell us what happened when she gets home.""It's too hot without a fan," Julie whined.Alex didn't know how Mami and Bri put up with Julie. She was Carlos's favorite, too. Papi actually seemed to think she was cute, but that was because she was the baby of the family. A twelve-year-old baby, in Alex's opinion."Do you think everything is okay?" Briana asked."I'm sure it is," Alex said. "Probably a big fire downtown. I heard a lot of sirens.""But Mami works in Queens," Briana said. "Why would the hospital need her there if the fire's downtown?""A plane crash, then," Alex said, thinking of the people pointing to the sky. "Remind me to tell Papi that twelve B has a plumbing problem, okay. And go to bed. Whatever the emergency is, it'll be gone by morning.""All right," Briana said. "Come on, Julie. Let's pray extra hard for everybody.""That sounds like fun," Julie grumbled, but she followed her big sister to their bedroom.Mami kept votive candles in the kitchen, Alex remembered. He stumbled around until he found one and matches to light it. It cast only a small amount of light, but enough for him to make his way to the room he had once shared with Carlos.Originally the two rooms had been the master bedroom, but when they'd moved in, Papi had built a dividing wall, so that the boys and the girls each got a small bedroom. He and Mami slept in their own room. Even without Carlos, the apartment was crowded, but it was home and Alex had no complaints.He undressed quickly, opened the door slightly so he could hear Mami when she got home, blew out the candle, and climbed into the lower half of the bunk bed. Through the thin wall, he could hear Briana's Dios te salve, María. Papi thought Bri was too devout, but Mami said it's just a stage fourteen-year-old girls go through.Somehow Alex didn't think Julie would go through that stage when she turned fourteen.When Alex had been fourteen, three years ago, he'd thought for a couple of days about becoming a priest. But Bri was different. Alex could actually see her becoming a nun someday. Mami would love that, he knew.Sister Briana, he thought as he turned on his side, his head facing the wall. My sister the sister. He fell asleep grinning at the thought. Copyright (c) 2008 by Susan Beth PfefferAll rights reserved. No part of this publication may be ­reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777. Excerpted from The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.