Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer (Twitter)
Publisher: HMH BYR
Publish Date: August 13, 2013
Genre: YA, Dystopian
It's been more than two years since Jon Evans and his family left Pennsylvania, hoping to find a safe place to live, yet Jon remains haunted by the deaths of those he loved. His prowess on a soccer field has guaranteed him a home in a well-protected enclave.But Jon is painfully aware that a missed goal, a careless word, even falling in love, can put his life and the lives of his mother, his sister Miranda, and her husband, Alex, in jeopardy. Can Jon risk doing what is right in a world gone so terribly wrong?
Four years ago, life for Jon and his family irreparably changed forever when the moon was knocked out of orbit, sending the world into a spiraling maze of chaos and confusion. In this broken world, Jon, his stepmother Lisa, and his little brother Gabriel manage to earn access to the enclave, where the world's most affluent hide out. They're not rich or talented enough to qualify, but they won their slips, leaving his sister Miranda, Alex and his mother on the outside in the grub. Life is easier in the enclave, but it's distinctly poorer in the grubs, and Jon watches the suffering every day. Can he do what is right, or will he fall in line within this new world order?
I started reading The Last Survivors books when I first started this blog almost four years ago, and I've been a fan ever since. After waiting for a very long time, I was thrilled to hear that veteran author, Susan Beth Pfeffer, was releasing a fourth installment which, I ultimately hoped would resolve the issues I had with the third book. The Shade of the Moon offers that insider's perspective into life years after the moon's orbit changed, and I was thrilled to know that there was life beyond the desolation of the third book. With vivid brush strokes and powerful imagery, the author paints the picture of a broken world that is so damaged, they can't see beyond their daily lives to entertain the fact that life as they knew it can go on...just differently.
I have to be completely honest when I start this review and state that I am completely on the fence about this book. So much of me wanted to love it because I really do like this series despite its flaws. A large part of me, however, felt somewhat cheated by this installment because of the plausibility of it all, as well as the utter lack of hope that I felt for much of the story. First and foremost though, let me state that The Shade of the Moon is a well-written book. The author has a way with words that makes it easy to feel the events as though you're actually a part of them, and that's an immensely strong skill to have. The story moves at a steady pace, building tension throughout, which breathes life into a somewhat hopeless tale, which made it easy to remain invested throughout. That said, I did have a couple of issues with The Shade of the Moon. As I mentioned before, I had issue with the plausibility of it all. This book takes four years after the moon's change. Four years, guys. Yet, in those four year, society basically reverted back to complete segregation, creating a distinct class split between the haves and have-nots, who are determined by their contributing abilities to society...and still, we see a teenage boy in Jon, who's earned access the the enclave through "slips," meaning they're safely inside, although not totally worthy. We've got the grubs outside the safety of the enclave, who basically live to serve "clavers." I could easily believe this societal shift if it took place 30 or 40 years later. Four years though? That's not even a generation gap. I found it very hard to believe that this distinct class separation evolved in just four years. Then, there was the massive onset of insta-love between Jon and Sarah, a "grub-lover." Now, remember...Jon's family is in the grubs, yet Jon buys into the ideal that these grubs are lesser than him and, therefore, easily engages in casual sex and demeaning of characters with these grub girls without any real thought as to the consequences. It irked me to no end. I will say that a redeeming quality of The Shade of the Moon is that Jon does evolve through the story, and this character growth and transition made it easier to stomach some of his more reprehensible actions. Plus, the fact that he was able to grow a set and actually stand up for what he knew deep down was right definitely made it more appealing.
Overall, there's a part of me that thinks this was a good fourth installment, and there's a larger part of me that felt a bit letdown by The Shade of the Moon. It's not a bad book by any means, and a lot of people will love it, but I felt like it didn't really encompass all I'd hoped it would. I give it a 2.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially fans of the Last Survivors series and dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.