Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Shade Of The Moon

The Shade Of The Moon

Susan Beth Pfeffer
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Harcourt, 2013   ISBN: 978-0547813370

Four years ago Jon Evans was living in Pennsylvania with his mother, his sister Miranda, and his brother Matt. His biggest worry was that he wouldn’t play well in his next Little League game. Then a meteor hit the moon, which pushed the moon closer to Earth. Life on Earth changed radically with earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and a changed climate causing death and destruction worldwide. Billions died, including Jon’s father and his girlfriend Julie.

   Now Jon lives with his stepmother Lisa and half-brother Gabe in a safe and secure enclave called Sexton. There are a lot of rules in the enclave, but Jon gets enough food to eat, he has a nice home to live in, and he is getting a good education. He has become used to having a comfortable life again, and he does not think much about what it is like for the people who live outside the enclave in the town of White Birch. The clavers call most of the people who are not part of the enclave “grubs,” and they think that grubs are their inferiors; their sole purpose should be to serve as servants and manual laborers working for the clavers.  

   Jon’s mother, his sister Miranda, and his brother-in-law Alex live in White Birch. Miranda and Alex have menial jobs and they are therefore grubs. They don’t really get enough to eat, their housing is mediocre at best, and they know full well that if they step out of line they could be sent to the coal mines. No one lasts long working in the mines.

   Jon is coasting along as usual, playing soccer and accepting that the grubs are there to serve him and other clavers, when a new girl called Sarah comes to Sexton. Though she is the daughter of a doctor and is therefore a claver, Sarah thinks that the grubs should be treated decently, that they are essentially the same as clavers. It is just bad luck that they ended up where they did. In spite of himself, Jon starts to fall for Sarah, and he cannot help listening to what she says about the grubs. He starts to consider that perhaps some of what she says might have merit and then something happens that turns his life upside down.

   It all begins when a White Birch player dies on the pitch during a soccer game. Fights start to break out all over the pitch and in the grandstands between the grubs and the clavers. The security forces get involved, and soon people are being shot and are dying all around Jon. Jon manages to get himself, Gabe and Lisa away from the stadium, but the violence spreads and as he makes his way to his mother’s house he sees bodies lying in the streets.

   Over the next few days Sexton’s security guards continue to kill grubs and they also round up many of them to work in the mines. For the first time Jon sees the grubs as people, as people who are being terrorized by the clavers. Still haunted by the mistakes he made before he got to Sexton, Jon realizes that he has to make a choice. Is he going to be a claver or is he going to do what is right? Does he have the courage to do what is right?

   This fourth book in the Life As We Knew It series is just as gripping, shocking, and powerful as the first three books were. We met Jon in the first book, but this is the first time what we have seen the world through his eyes. It is interesting to see how he changes as the world around him turns into something frightening and unfamiliar.

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