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Book 1 was ok if you can get past the horrendous audio narrator.
Book 2 was good if you can deal with another bad audio narrator—a man this time. If you have any sense (which apparently I didn’t), stop at book 2.
Book 3 was pretty bad. Miranda goes from hating Alex to being madly and passionately in love with him and he with her. There is no reason for her to even like him based on the text in this book. At least in book 2 (Alex’s story), he’s generally likeable and when he’s not, you understand why. As well, as others have stated, people act completely out of character.
Book 4 has another horrible audio narrator, and he’s the BEST thing about the book. Even if people could go from normal life to this absurd mindset in four years, the fact than Jon (Miranda’s younger brother) loses 15 year’s of decency, common sense, logic, morality is equally ridiculous. Now there are the elites “clavers” (short for “enclavers”) and “grubs”—the laborers, normal people who now the clavers think are “animals” and treat them as such.
Just about every character in this book has once again morphed into something different than they were (good or bad) with absolutely no explanation. But Jon has turned into such a an awful person, I kept wishing someone would murder him rather than having other characters suffer and/or get killed off. Jon’s “redemption” was not enough to save this book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
As a fan of the other three books in Susan Beth Pfeffer's The Last Survivors post-apocalyptic/dystopian young adult series, I'm sorry to say that this novel provided a most unsatisfying end.
This review could easily run away with me, so I'll limit myself to what I see as the two biggest problems of the novel.
First, the premise. I honestly don't know why this wasn't a standalone novel. It makes no sense in the context of the earlier three books. It's set only four years -- four years -- after the natural disaster that defines the series. (A meteor knocked the moon off its orbit and caused catastrophic climactic changes and a series of natural disasters.) Somehow people in that short a period of time have divided so completely into the privileged few in the enclaves and the oppressed drudges, or "grubs," that the elites view the majority as genuinely less than human. (This happens even though membership in an enclave is based on rather random criteria, so that even Ivy League Ph.D.s are living as grub domestics, and nuclear families may be split between the enclaves and "grub" towns.) This genuinely defies belief, as do the living conditions described in the enclaves. I would think that, with the massive climactic changes and challenges, clean drinking water and viable foodstuffs and disease would still be foremost concerns, not playing soccer and choosing nannies. Considering Pfeffer's emphasis in earlier books about how communities fracture and individuals turn against each other in times of crisis, it requires more than a mere suspension of disbelief to go along with the idea that large numbers of people, many of privileged backgrounds themselves, all agreed in concert to accept the rule of the few and subside into slavery so quickly.
Second, the main character. Jon was the baby of his family, the coddled one for whom others sacrificed. That said, in the previous novels he was portrayed as a good-natured and normal boy. Now at seventeen he's one of the most dislikeable protagonists I've come across. I don't simply mean that he's annoying, erratic, weak-willed, and difficult to empathize with, though he is all of these things. He also does despicable acts, from helping to burn down the school where his mother teaches to trying to justify attempted rape and sexual intimidation, all the while winning the affections of a visionary, courageous young woman. (Her lasting attraction to this easily bullied coward is never explained. It's a baffling mystery.) When his semi-redemption comes, it's unconvincing. It's troubling, too, because he seems to be content in excusing away some of his most disturbing behavior.
Matthew Josdal's narration made an already grating character even more whiny and difficult to endure.
There are hints of interesting commentary here, from an implied critique of gated communities to a more overt critique of the celebration of brute violence and groupthink in sports. The corruption that's rife in the administration of Jon's enclave suggests chilling insights into how bureaucracies behave. Unfortunately, these critiques read more like a series of brief rants strung together between one atrocity and the next (and there are serious atrocities committed in this novel, let me assure you) rather than a nuanced, integrated narrative. For example, I would point to Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower for a more complex and sophisticated dystopian study of the gated community, among other subjects. Ironically, although Butler's heroine is both the daughter of a minister and the founder of a new faith, Parable comes across as far less preachy than does Shade of the Moon.
As a standalone novel I would have found this problematic, but as the final conclusion to a compelling and well-loved series, it's an even greater letdown.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful