Life as We Knew It

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Life as We Knew It Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Gripping, terrifying disaster tale will inspire discussions.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 72 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers may find this book on a school recommended reading list.  But whether they first encounter this book in the classroom or at home, it's sure to lead to some provoking discussions as readers try to decide what they would do in Miranda's situation. Teachers and parents can find discussion guides for this book and its sequels on the publisher's Web site.

Positive Messages

This book examines the ugly and terrifying implications of global catastrophe. Through the characters own discussion about what's really important, readers may begin to draw their own conclusions. At the end, readers will find some hope in the pages of this book.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Miranda is an average teen facing the struggle for survival in a newly hostile world. She must learn to tap into her inner strength and depend on her family.


A parent commits suicide after her daughter dies.


Some kissing, mention of a period, discussion of when to have sex. A teen girl takes up with an older man.


Fast food and candy brands.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book about a global disaster is well drawn but terrifying, and is best for readers who able to put it in the appropriate context. Even kids who have the maturity to read it on their own may appreciate discussing its themes with their families -- see our "Families Can Talk About" section for some ideas. This book was one of the American Library Association's Best Books For Young Adults Readers in 2007, and some kids may find this book on a school recommended reading list. It is the first book in a series of three.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHelen S. May 17, 2017

A Little Boring for 8th Graders

For 14 year old students, they found the book to be boring with a few interesting parts. They hoped that more emphasis would be on disasters with more of a thr... Continue reading
Parent of a 6 and 11-year-old Written byRunWithMe35 July 22, 2014

Makes You Think About What is Really Important

I wasn't too happy when I learned that my soon to be sixth grader has a summer reading assignment for his pre-AP English class next year. Haven't we... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byBrigidArmbrust September 4, 2019
The science in this book (and several other aspects of the plot) makes no sense. Also, it could just be me, but there seemed to be some sexist undertones that b... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by13 years old December 18, 2019

Not tramitizing at all it’s a great page turner.

I think it’s a great book fo kids 10 and up it has some death in it which is the only bad thing it’s a great book we read it in my class and I read ahead becaus... Continue reading

What's the story?

When a meteor crashes into the Moon, it knocks the Moon's orbit a bit closer to the Earth, causing tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, which in turn wipe out coastal cities, disrupt infrastructure and weather patterns, and cause crop failure. Teenaged Miranda, who lives with her mother and brothers in Pennsylvania, doesn't directly witness most of this, but she feels the effects: Her family must try to survive on hoarded canned food and a woodstove when power and communications fail, there is no food in stores, temperatures plummet, the sun is blocked by volcanic ash, and disease ravages the surviving population.

Is it any good?

This is one terrifying book, more so because it's largely concerned with the mundane -- food, water, heat. The author is very clever here, though: She has chosen a possible but very unlikely event (disruption of the moon's orbit) as the catalyst for the story, providing a little distance for those who need it, but the results of the moon's change are all too similar to much more likely scenarios, such as global warming -- rising tides, weather and agricultural disruption, collapsing infrastructure, and energy failure -- and alert young readers won't fail to make the connection. Ultimately, this book's realism, combined with a gripping writing style, may scare younger kids, and won't be as easy for you to dismiss as just fantasy. But for middle-schoolers and up, it will be extremely compelling and thought-provoking.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about books about the future. Many books, like this one, make dark predictions about what will happen to our planet and our society. Why do you think that is?

  • Books like this may be somewhat scary -- but are they important to read? Why is it important to consider our possible futures?

  • This book has two sequels. Will you read any further into the

  • series? There is some hope at the end of this book -- what do you think

  • will happen next?

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