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Unnatural Disasters


Unnatural Disasters

Lucy Weaver is just your normal teenage girl --- except she loves horror movies and she is not going to college after graduation. Lucy Weaver is going to explore the world with her boyfriend Luke until someone bombs Washington, D.C. Then the everyday world implodes. With strange weather phenomena and stranger international politics, Lucy has to navigate her life after the sixteenth.

UNNATURAL DISASTERS is a book about everyday life. It is about everyday life after the unthinkable happens, but it is a book about Lucy going about her life. She still goes to school, even though she does not do much at school. Her classmates hold a Halloween party. Lucy is not your usual dystopian heroine who slashes her way across the continent. She barely leaves Bethany, New York until she is forced out, even then she does not want to leave. The fact that this book is about the mundane makes it more impactful.

"UNNATURAL DISASTERS is about the impermanence of life....It is a deeply moving and depressing book. This book is perfect for the melancholic, mildly-nihilistic reader in all of us."

Lucy’s life is upended, but it is not upended to the point of no return. No, Lucy has to figure out what life after the bombing means. She has to figure out how she fits into this new world. Is she still the theater worker? Still Luke's girlfriend? Still the angry teenager? Or is she something more than that? Something less? This book attempts to answers these questions. And I would say it does figure out a good answer.

I can see this future happening. Nuclear war and weather flip-flopping from hot to cold seem possible. This also makes the book impactful. Lucy's future does not seem too far off from our own. This book made me think about my own reality and the reality I live in. It made me wonder about what it means to be human and what it means to be a family. I loved how the author emphasized the family aspect. There are two families: Lucy's and Jay's. They are different but alike. They are both close even though they differ in size. And in the end, the concept of family is upended with the three orphans and the new family Lucy and Jay share.

There was a phase in the young adult publishing timeline where dystopian books were popular. Think THE FIFTH WAVE or THE HUNGER GAMES. They all had similar plots and similar characters. They featured brave, angry girls who defied the system and overcame insurmountable odds. If you expect UNNATURAL DISASTERS to be like that, you will surely be surprised as I was --- in the best way possible.

UNNATURAL DISASTERS is a melancholic book; I cannot really say it is a happy book. There is a hopeful ending, but there are still many loose ends. What happens to Lucy's mom? To Luke? I have so many questions, but I believe that part of the book is that you do not always know the ending to life. There are questions you leave unanswered, and that is a fact of life. All you can do it hope and believe in the best.

Something that stood out in my mind was the romance. I truly did want to see something happen with Lucy and Luke, but it was not what I expected. This book truly does defy all expectations. You can guess the ending once you have started reading, but I still disliked how Lucy's romantic life ended. I would like to leave you with this quote I adored. It truly sums up the book. "In my head was everything and everyone that had disappeared. A whole world. Gone. And it wasn't even over. Every time you think you're safe, every time you think you have nothing left to lose, you find out you're wrong. There's always more." (302-303)

To me, UNNATURAL DISASTERS is about the impermanence of life. It is about the sadness that we feel every day. It is about living life beyond tragedy. It is a deeply moving and depressing book. This book is perfect for the melancholic, mildly-nihilistic reader in all of us.

Reviewed by Wren Lee on February 14, 2019

Unnatural Disasters
by Jeff Hirsch