The Dead and the Gone

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The Dead and the Gone
The Dead and the Gone (Susan Beth Pfeffer novel - cover art).jpg
First edition cover
Author Susan Beth Pfeffer
Country United States
Language English
Series The Last Survivors
Subject The Moon
Genre Young adult novel, Science fiction
Publisher Harcourt Children's Books
Publication date
May 4, 2008
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 321 pp
ISBN 978-0-15-206311-5 (first edition, hardcover)
OCLC 167492096
LC Class PZ7.P44855 Dc 2008
Preceded by Life as We Knew It
Followed by This World We Live In

The Dead and the Gone is a young adult science fiction dystopian novel by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Released in hardcover in May 2008, it is the second book in The Last Survivors, following Life as We Knew It and preceding This World We Live In.


Pfeffer's novel Life As We Knew It was created after watching the original film Meteor (1979), noting that "it got [her] thinking about how the people who have the most to lose if the world comes to an end are kids," and wanted to see how her characters would cope with a situation that was out of their control. The Dead and the Gone occurs at the same time as the first novel, Life As We Knew It, but in New York City. She playfully mentioned that "I figure with 300 million people alive in the United States, even if I write about 10 people a book, I can still get another 2,999,998 novels out of that meteor, and that should keep me busy and entertained well past the foreseeable future." [1]

The Dead and the Gone uses a third-person narrative, while the previous book, Life As We Knew It, used a first-person narrative in a journal format. Asked about the change in narrative, Pfeffer replied quite simply that in her planning processes, she "just could not envision a teenage boy keeping a diary. It's as simple as that," accounting for the change.[2]


The Dead and the Gone follows 17-year-old Alex Morales and his sisters, Briana and Julie, in their struggle to survive after an asteroid hits the Moon and knocks it out of orbit, closer to Earth. Taking place in New York, they are plagued with volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and tidal waves, and earthquakes, along with famine caused by food shortages and disease that kill millions of people in the process. Alex is forced to take care of his sisters in the absence of his mother and father and to raid dead bodies for valuables to trade for food. He struggles with his religious faith while trying desperately to survive.


Alex- A 17-year-old boy who has to take care of his two younger sisters after a meteor hits the moon, knocking it closer to the earth, when his parents disappear. He blames himself for all of the things happening to his sisters. Near the end of the book, he also gets the flu. At the end he escapes the city with Julie as a fake priest and a helper he will be moving to a state where his aunt and his uncle have fled.

Briana Morales (Bri)- 14-year-old girl who also has to help take care of the family. But, when she goes away to a convent in the country, she develops asthma. When she comes back, her brother won't let her do anything around the house, so it is left up to Julie. Because of her religious beliefs, she thinks that her parents will come back for her, which is what is keeping her alive. She dies when she is trapped in an elevator during a power outage for two days after returning to her apartment building.

Julie Morales- Alex's other youngest sister. Julie is 12 years old and turns 13 later in the book. She stays with Alex when Bri leaves, and despite their differences before the book, they become much closer as they struggle to survive. She gets on well with Bri despite their different religious attitudes. She can be seen as a bit of a "cry baby" sometimes by Alex, but ultimately she copes well with the situation they are in.

Father Mulrooney- The strict and uptight elderly head of Alex's private school. He serves as somewhat of a mentor to Alex, but in the end helps Alex and Julie escape what is left of the town.

Sister Rita- Headmaster of Julie and Bri's school they went to. Assisted Father Mulrooney help get Alex and Julie out of the town

Isabella Morales (Mami)- Alex, Bri, and Julie's mother. A kind, nurturing, and caring woman, Isabella is an effectual mother. She was most likely in the subways when the floods hit and is presumed dead.

Luis Morales (Papi)- Alex's father, who, while strict and overly-uptight, is still loving and nurturing. He was on the coast of Puerto Rico when tides rose and is presumed dead.

Kevin Daley- A 17-year-old boy who helps his friend Alex to get food and teaches him how to "body shop" (taking the valuable items off of the people who drop dead in the streets), and how to use those items to barter with the last guy in the city to give out food. Kevin dies in front of Alex's eyes when a tree branch falls and suffocates him.

Harvey- A man with whom Alex trades the items from body shopping for food. Near the end of the book, he commits suicide.


Publishers Weekly described The Dead and the Gone as "riveting", and said that "once again Pfeffer creates tension not only through her protagonist's day-to-day struggles but also through chilling moral dilemmas: whether to rob the dead, who to save during a food riot, how long to preserve the hope that his parents might return," adding that "[t]he powerful images and wrenching tragedies will haunt readers." [3] John Green of the New York Times said that it "transcend[s] [its] premises with terrifyingly well-imagined futures and superb characterization," and that "the story’s climax and resolution feel achingly right." [4]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Lynda Brill Comerford (5 June 2008). "Q & A with Susan Beth Pfeffer". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Dead and the Gone Editorial Reviews". Publishers Weekly. 19 May 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  4. ^ John Green (9 November 2008). "Scary New World". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2009.