Wow, this series took a turn.
Very often, post-apocalyptic fiction will lead into burgeoning dystopia, and with this book, we get a glimpse of that already happening. Four books in, and only four years after the cataclysm, life has gotten very disturbing for our friends, with classism rearing its ugly head and corruption taking its toll on pretty much everyone.
But it is made even worse here because we see all of this unfold as we follow the adventures of Miranda’s youngest brother Jon, now seventeen, who is one of the favoured few living in a comfortable safe town — where he plays soccer to pay his way, if you please — and he has turned into a total asshole.
Jon and his step-mother Lisa (the kids’ Dad is dispensed with in the early passages of the book) live in a rarefied enclave with little Gabriel, into which they gained entry due to the largesse of Alex, of the last two books fame. They are known as clavers, the upper class, who employ servants and look down on the working class, who are commonly called grubs — Alex, now a bus driver, and Miranda, a greenhouse worker, are grubs now. There is supposed to be a metaphor here, about how easy it is for people, given even a modicum of power or status above others, to begin to lord it over their fellows, and yeah, that is true, and I totally get it. But it is brutal to see it happen to a character we have liked for the past three books — and one, moreover, whom we now learn is a serial sexual predator.
The final third of the book is supposed to be Jon’s redemption, having him see the error of his ways through the eyes of his new love, the vaguely egalitarian (but absolutely infuriating) Sarah, and realize that hey, actually my family are just as good as I am, and girls are not my playthings, and also, this town’s caste system is fucked the hell up. But by the time we get there, it is all so bleak and horrific and the disasters have been enacted so thoroughly — along with a Handmaid’s Tale-esque twist — that it is nigh on impossible to forgive him, nor the book itself.
I wish I hadn’t read this book. It has utterly ruined the (uneven, but withal enjoyable) trilogy that came before it. It is no wonder that the series ended here. Indeed, according to her Author’s Note, this was apparently Pfeffer’s second attempt at this book.
What on the blighted Earth could have been worse than this, we can only speculate.
TBR DAY 98: The Shade of the Moon (Last Survivors #4) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
GENRE: YA Post-Apocalypse
TIME ON THE TBR: ~5 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Amazon.