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Z for Zachariah Paperback – July 10, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A gripping story about the survivors of a nuclear holocaust, by a Newbery Medalist. Ages 12up.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-By Robert C. O'Brien. A nuclear holocaust has destroyed civilization. Ann Burden believes she is the last person aliveAuntil she finds another survivor. She discovers there are worse things than being alone.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse; Reprint edition (July 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416939210
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416939214
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert C. O'Brien In real life, Robert C. O'Brien was Robert Leslie Conly. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, attended Williams College and graduated from the Universtiy of Rochester. While there he studied piano at Eastman School of Music, and at one time considered being a musician. Instead, he became an editor and writer for Newsweek magazine from 1941 to 1944, and for Pathfinder from 1946 to 1951. From 1951 until the time of his death in 1973 he was employed as a writer and editor by the National Geographic Magazine. He made his home in New York City before 1944 and in Washington, D.C. after that. He also had a home in Morgan County, West Virginia, after 1965, a place he loved and visited as often as he could. He was married and the father of one son and three daughters. His books include The Silver Crown, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, which won the Newbery Award, and A Report From Group 17. His last book, Z is for Zachariah was nearly completed at the time of his death; the last few chapters were written from notes by this wife and one of his daughters.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By C. Moon on March 23, 2000
Format: School & Library Binding
Z for Zachariah was one I wasn't that impressed by at age 10 when I first read it (or about there), but years down the road (in college) a reread completely changed my mind about this book, and about the goals O'Brien had set about to accomplish with it. I've always been a fan of O'Brien, so I can't say I had completely written the book off, but this much later reading revealed some things that I think only the most perceptive young readers are going to pick up on, which is unfortunate because it really is a book for them.
Starting with the most superficial, I am probably more impressed here with O'Brien's writing than anywhere else. O'Brien purposely drenches the story in detail, allowing the reader to pause and contemplate the strangely serene post-apocolypse environment. This of course is a tool--O'Brien uses Biblical allegory throughout (for the purpose of the story, not for the purpose of the proliferation of religion), and this entire scenario with the beautiful valley that cannot be left is all too obviously a cousin to the garden of eden.
This surprising immersion in the pastoral setting (of what is apparently the end of the world) is equally matched by the strong and vital voice of Ann Burdan, who like the scenery stands in sharp contrast to death--a contrast that I think sets this entire book in motion.
I for one found Ann's voice is what made the book work. Through sincerity and an honest analysis of her feelings we are propelled into the heart of the story, which is not so much about nuclear bombs but about 'growing up -as- epic adventure' (Henke, Children't lit in Education, Summer 82).
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Hughes on November 10, 2000
Format: School & Library Binding
I just want to tell anyone that has the time to read this. This book, Z for Zachariah, is definitely a book in my top 10. It was well written and a great page-turner. I just never could find the will to put it down.
Z for Zachariah is a book taking place right after a nuclear war. A girl is left behind and thinking she is the only on left on earth. That is until she sees a man drawing nearer and nearer to her house each and every day.
She is of course scared of him and hides so he doesn't see her. Until one day when she is hiding in the mountains, he actually comes up to her yard, unloads his belongings and goes inside her house! As first I was stunned by this but then I realized that he probably tought the house was abandoned.
They end up meeting eachother and story takes off from there. It's just that, is this man as nice as she thinks he is? You will find out later by prdering the book.
Z for Zachariah has a really good twist to it and I thought it was very creative on how the author approached on writing the book. It has a lot of storylines, good storylines at that, that kept me and will keep you reading.
I want to thank Robert C O'Brien for creating such a well-written book. Not all authors know how to grip a reader to keep reading like he did to me. This is a definite must-read for all ages.
Definitely pick this book up and you will thank me that you did.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The good thing about this book is it starts out right in the action, thats what I like about books. This book starts you out in a families valley that they live in. Everything is going well when suddenly a strange green cloud peaks at the tip of the valley. The parents of Ann Burden(the main-character telling the story) tell her that they are going out of the valley and into town to see what happened. They go out but they never come back. But before they left, her brother jumped into the back of the truck without the parents knowing. The dog loves the boy so much that it runs after him and it never comes back either until the middle of the book. But while this is all going on she is getting a long all by herself when a figure keeps getting closer and closer to the valley. She investigates to find it to be a scientist who has a biochemical suit. It protects him from the radiation. She hides in a cave because she is afraid that he might do something to her. It is a very good book to read.
I think the book is very good and keeps your attention. The only bad thing is that it is not a good book for someone who is not over 12 because you really can't understand some of the technical terms but thats about it.
I recommend this book to any student interested in a science-fiction novel and it would interest anybody else who would be interested in what the world may very well be like in the next century. I also recommend this book to teachers because they might be interested in sharing this book with the class. It is a real mindboggler in how the plot takes you right into the story.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on September 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Sixteen-year-old Ann Burden has been living on her own for a year, since the nuclear bombs turned everything surrounding her little valley into a wasteland, and her parents drove out to find other survivors... and never came back. Knowing she may be the only person left, Ann struggles with her loneliness and tends to the farm as best she can. But then a man comes over the hills in a protective suit and arrives in the valley. At first he provides Ann with welcome companionship, but as he recovers from a bout of radiation sickness, his actions become more sinister.

Z FOR ZACHARIAH is an intense, heart-pounding read. From the moment Ann first sees smoke rising from beyond the valley, each development wrenches her further and further from the life she's adjusted to--seemingly for good, and then with terrible consequences. The pacing is perfect, and with the story being told through Ann's journal entries, every event feels immediate. The personal details and unflinching descriptions of life after a nuclear war make the story even more gripping. As the tension escalates, readers will find it incredibly hard to put the book down before they discover Ann's ultimate fate. While the story leaves this somewhat open-ended, Ann's ultimate victory will make them cheer.

Ann is a likable narrator, with a natural voice and a well-developed personality. It's easy to sympathize with her based on her situation alone, but she is all the more admirable for refusing to give up even in the most desperate circumstances. She deals with her problems with intelligence and courage, but still has those moments of carelessness and fear that make her human. Readers will be on her side from the beginning, even as they struggle to imagine how they would feel in her place.
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