The Shade of the Moon
The Shade of the Moon is a young adult science fiction novel by American author Susan Beth Pfeffer, first published in 2013 by HarperCollins. It is the fourth and final book in The Last Survivors series, preceded by Life as We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone and This World We Live In. Four years after an asteroid hits the moon and brings it closer to Earth, Jon is living a pampered life in an enclave in Tennessee, grappling with social relations with his family who work as laborers outside the walls of his safe city.
The Shade of the Moon’s Synopsis
Two and half years after the events of the previous book, Jon has a pampered life as a “Claver” in the Sexton University enclave where he lives with his stepmother, Lisa; half-brother, Gabe; Gabe’s nanny, Carrie; and housekeeper and cook, Val. The rest of Jon’s family live in the poor community of White Birch, and work long hours as “Grubs” for the citizens of Sexton. Jon’s mother, Laura, lives with Jon’s pregnant sister, Miranda, and Miranda’s husband, Alex. Laura teaches at the White Birch high school while Miranda works in the greenhouses, and Alex drives a bus. It is revealed Jon’s father Hal died years ago from hunger and exhaustion on their trip from Pennsylvania to Sexton. Jon still suffers guilt over the death of his ex-girlfriend Julie, as he failed to protect her from a tornado that paralyzed her.
In the enclave, citizens are evaluated every 3 years to ensure they are adequately contributing to the community. Jon plays for the Sexton soccer team with his friends Tyler and Zachary. Gregory Hughes (Tyler’s father) will be performing Lisa’s upcoming evaluation. At school, Jon comforts new student, Sarah Goldman, during earthquake. She believes Clavers and Grubs should be treated equally. Tyler warns Jon to stay away from Sarah, as her father was given Zachary’s grandfather’s house and job as doctor at the White Birch clinic, resulting in Zachary’s grandfather being exiled, now forced to live and work as a “Grub”. Jon avoids Sarah to ensure Lisa’s will pass her evaluation, that night Sarah shows up at Jon’s house, and confronts him about why he’s avoiding her, and they kiss.
Jon goes to White Birch to see his older brother Matt, who is in town for his job as a bike courier. Matt lives a couple hundred miles away in Coolidge with his wife Syl. While visiting, Jon thinks about his talk with Sarah, and notices the poor conditions his family lives in. Matt brings up an idea of the family joining a commune to escape their poor living and working conditions, Jon expresses interest in joining too but Laura criticizes Jon for his entitled behavior.
On the anniversary of the asteroid hitting the moon, Jon goes with his friends to White Birch and they burn down the high school. In civics class, Sarah asks other students to consider doing their after school work in the clinic and stands up for the rights of Grubs. The teacher and other students tease and chastise her while Jon just looks on. The next morning Sarah calls him a coward and says she never wants to see him again.
Lisa passes her evaluation and is promoted, as a reward she will be given a private greenhouse for the backyard and Lisa wants Miranda to be the worker in it so she and the baby can live in a safer and healthier place.
Jon invites Sarah over to talk. He tells her he loves her before kissing her and groping her roughly, she gets angry with him and he accuses her of acting like his ex-girlfriend Julie, admitting that he sexually assaulted Julie their last day together. Julie fought Jon off and ran away, fearing he would rape her, she ran outside and was caught in the tornado that paralyzed her. That’s the true reason Jon never went to see her before she died.
Laura asks Jon to come to White Birch on Sunday to meet Alex’s brother Carlos. Jon learns Carlos gambled away his share of the money for a truck that Carlos and Alex were hoping to buy. Carlos also accidentally reveals to Jon that Miranda killed Julie to put her out of her misery. Jon tries to explain away his attempted rape of Julie in his head, instead blaming Miranda for her death. At home, Jon nearly assaults Carrie; and Lisa calls to say Miranda has been hospitalized after collapsing at work in the greenhouses. Sarah comes over and reveals to Jon that she also feels guilt as she refused to donate a kidney to her dying mother. Sarah decides to overlook Jon’s attempted rape of Julie.
Jon’s soccer team plays a game against White Birch. The game is close, then a player for White Birch collapses and dies on the field and a fight breaks out. Many players and spectators are shot and killed. Alex is driving a bus and warns Jon to make sure Laura is okay, Jon doesn’t understand until he sees the carnage on the streets. He finds Laura and they take shelter at the clinic with Sarah and her father.
After returning home to Sexton, Jon learns thousands died, including his housekeeper and cook Val, and Tyler and Zachary from the soccer team.
Carrie struggles to do all of the housework while still working as the nanny, so Jon offers to scrub the floor while Carrie watches Gabe. Jon has never scrubbed a floor before and does a terrible job, leading Lisa to scold Carrie.
Alex calls to inform Jon that Laura is missing. Jon goes with Sarah and her father to White Birch to search for his mother, he goes to the school and finds her dead, hung up in a tree, her body used for target practice after she tried to stop guards from taking the students to replace grub workers who died as a result of the riots that broke out after the soccer game.
Jon tells Miranda of their mother’s death and she is devastated. Dr. Goldman sneaks Alex into Jon’s house. Alex reveals that he knows Carlos told Jon about Miranda killing Julie and that after Alex found out he had planned to find Carlos and inform him of Julie’s death, then kill himself; but Carlos told him Miranda had the guts to do what Alex should have done, but wouldn’t have been able to, put Julie out of her misery. Alex tells Jon that after the baby is born he and Miranda will be moving to the commune, and that Laura had planned to stay in White Birch as long as Jon lived in Sexton. Alex tells Jon he’s his brother and he loves him, and that Jon can come stay with them at the commune if he ever wants.
The next morning, Lisa introduces Jon to Ruby, their new housemaid, as Carrie was sent to work for a more important family. Ruby is 3 years younger than Jon, and was taught by his mother at the high school. Ruby sneaks into Jon’s bed that night but he turns down her advances. Sarah’s reveals that her father is sending her to Virginia to live with her uncle.
Lisa calls to say Miranda gave birth to the baby, but that it died and was so deformed they wouldn’t even let Miranda see it. A sick Miranda is dropped off at Jon’s house as his new “Grub” servant and Jon accidentally reveals to Ruby that Miranda is his sister. Miranda claims that she heard the baby cry, and they said it was a girl. She believes the “Clavers” stole the baby from her, but Jon doesn’t believe her.
Jon hears a rumor at school a “Claver” family recently adopted an abandoned “Grub” baby. Jon tells Lisa, who confirms that the baby is Miranda’s. Jon, Lisa, and Sarah hatch a plan to leave the enclave with Alex, Miranda, Gabe, and the baby. When they start to leave Lisa refuses to go as she doesn’t want their scheme to be blamed on anyone else. Jon and Sarah execute the plan by tricking the family that stole the baby into thinking Miranda was infected with a deadly disease and that the baby is contagious and will soon die. Jon, Sarah, Alex, Miranda, Gabe, and the baby leave the enclave under the guise of driving Sarah to her uncle’s enclave in Virginia. Alex baptizes the baby and they name her Liana Hope, after Alex’s sisters Julie and Briana.
Jon decides to return to the enclave so that Lisa won’t take the fall alone, but finds Lisa dead, having shot herself in the heart and left a suicide note claiming responsibility for stealing back the baby. The police find Ruby and Jon marries her under the guise that he wants to torture her to find out what she did to Gabe, but really he wants to make sure she won’t tell anyone about Miranda being his sister. Jon and Ruby are kicked out of Sexton and Jon forces Ruby to come with him to Matt’s. They walk there, working for food along the way.
They finally arrive at Matt’s, Syl is there with Gabe. Jon asks Gabe if he’s excited to see Ruby, but Gabe claims it isn’t Ruby. Jon learns Ruby is actually her twin sister Opal, Opal and Ruby switches places as Opal is stronger and more clever, and could survive better on the run. Opal and Jon borrow two of Matt’s bikes and go to the commune, which has been named New Harmony. Matt, Syl, and Gabe will come in a few weeks after Matt finishes his latest route. Jon and Opal go into the clinic to ask directions to Miranda’s place and Jon finds Sarah is there. They reunite with a kiss and Sarah tells him her father told her to stay at the commune and he will be joining all of them there soon.
The Shade of the Moon’s Characters
Jonathan “Jon” Evans is a 17-year-old boy living in the Sexton enclave.
Sarah Goldman: A new member of the Sexton enclave, who often argues about equal rights for “grubs”.
Dr. Goldman: Sarah’s father who runs the clinic in White Birch.
Miranda Morales: Jon’s pregnant older sister who lives in the “grubtown” of White Birch.
Alex Morales: Miranda’s husband, and older brother of Jon’s ex-girlfriend Julie.
Julie Morales: Jon’s ex-girlfriend who died as a result of events in the previous book.
Matt Evans: Jon’s older brother who lives in Coolidge with his wife Syl, and works as a bike courier.
Laura Evans: Jon’s mother who works as a high school teacher in White Court.
Lisa: Jon’s stepmother and mother to Gabe, whom Jon lives with in Sexton.
Gabe: Jon’s 2-year-old half-brother.
Ruby: A servant in Jon’s house in Sexton. Opal’s twin sister.