The Dead and the Gone (The Last Survivors, Book 2)

The Dead and the Gone (The Last Survivors, Book 2) - Susan Beth Pfeffer I've finally finished "The Dead and the Gone" by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and I'm not certain whether I like it or want to critique it to pieces, because for all intents and purposes, I loved this book when it started out, because I do think it started out as a believable survival story in the mix of an unusual event. I loved it until I hit Chapter 10 or 11, then things started getting sketchy in more ways than one. It became harder for me to read, and not simply on the matter of what happened as much as certain things started to click with me that didn't seem plausible.To summarize: the story revolves around Alex Morales and his younger sisters Brianna and Julie. It's a separate story from the first book in the "Last Survivors" series, as its not only told from a third person limited perspective through the whole book, but also starts right from the beginning of when the moon is knocked out of orbit, and has Alex and his sisters fighting for survival in New York City, which is decimated by natural disasters of every kind, including floods, snowstorms, ash from volcanoes blocking the sky, famine, among other things. I have to talk about religion in this review of the book because it's such a central aspect of the story, as the characters are Catholic and often they find themselves clinging to their faith in their desperation to keep themselves together. It's difficult to say what anyone would do in the case of desperation, and there are some genuine times that the characters are challenged with respect to their devotion. However, this story really has several flaws with respect to dealing with this confliction that aren't very realistic. It was a problem in the first book when religion was presented in such an extreme "either/or" fashion that it really didn't deal with the issues it presented in a realistic way and the characters were polarizing. Same kind of problem in this book, only that the moral clingings are presented in a perspective where it isn't portrayed in due balance and in a overly heavy tone. Something tells me that this might have been intentional, but it's difficult to tell for its flaws in presentation.Despite all the moral deviations and sometimes frustrating arcs his character has, I liked Alex - I liked him a lot, perhaps even in part because he is so torn in his decisions and just keeps meeting one bad event after the other - having to bear all the responsibility for caring for his sisters and still trying to make sense of what happens as it happens - you can't help but follow him and think "Whoa, he's getting beaten even when he's down". (When he had the flu, I kept thinking "OMG, no!") There were times that he walked that narrow line between keeping himself together and completely falling apart. Despite how one might feel frustrated at him - that's the point - you do feel something for him as he goes though these situations, even if his character typing is a bit stereotypical - he's still human and having to deal with his emotions and his reactions to these events. I just wish there were a better balance taken to really make his character, and his sisters characters as well, come full circle. He did what he had to do, but I think when the whole is considered, the latter half of the book could have done more to support some of the moral dilemmas he (and his family) faced.One can expect the deaths in this book to come heavy handed, though it depends on your connection to the story and how willing you are to suspend disbelief at certain arcs. There was one death I didn't expect (won't say since it is a character spoiler) that completely took me blindsided. The others I somewhat expected, but its still a dark book with grotesque scenes in consideration.On the final note of it all, there were great things about the book as well as some detterents, but I'll say that I enjoyed the ride it took me on, and it did have a connection with me. So far, I can say that the first two books in this series were decent enough to pull me along to the final book, so I'm looking forward to reading it, come what may.Overall score: 3/5