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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent YA book, but may reveal more at later readings...
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...
Published on March 23, 2000 by C. Moon

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Z for Zachariah
In the book, Z for Zachariah, Ann Burden believes she is the last person left on Earth after a nuclear war. She lives in a valley which "has its own weather", which protected her from the radiation. Her valley is the only thing with life in it for miles, possibly the whole world. On her farm, she raises chickens and cows, and she grows some of her food. She lives this...
Published on December 21, 2005


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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent YA book, but may reveal more at later readings..., March 23, 2000
By 
C. Moon (Valley Village, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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).
As a young reader, I think I only saw the surface of this story which is not in of itself very compelling--a man comes into the valley, a relationship develops, the man becomes deranged and starts hunting the girl, so the girl leaves. The story however is much more than this. It is actually all about the last two chapters. It is about Ann -not- killing Mr. Loomis. It is about Ann's evolution as she moves from a child that can only consider life in the valley to confronting the entire world--one which seems dead and hopeless. The message finally is an uplifting but difficult one which does not try to make the burden (Burdan--clever?) of growing up any less grim. Today's young people are going to be faced by a world full of 'deadness', or perhaps a world that seems to have gone insane (this premise was carried out well in the animated film Princess Mononoke, another great YA work.) It is a great effort to bring Ann's innocent voice into a world that would gladdly stomp it out, and yet Z for Zachariah leads us to believe that this is the very challenge of growing up, and makes strong argument for investing in the dreams of young people for tomorrow.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definite Must-Read, November 10, 2000
By 
Eric J. Hughes (Lancaster, PA (USA)) - See all my reviews
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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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think the book is very good and everyone should read it!, October 14, 1999
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, September 3, 2007
This review is from: Z for Zachariah (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. Though her final triumph involves some loss, it's clear Ann will persevere and find a way to survive and be happy, which makes the ending satisfying.

Z FOR ZACHARIAH is a story that will haunt readers long after they've put down the book. It shows both the good and the bad that can emerge from human nature in the face of catastrophe, and gives hope that even in the worst situations, there are those who will remain strong.

Reviewed by: Lynn Crow
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weapons of Mass Destruction?, June 29, 2003
Z FOR Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien is a chilling account of the United States after an atomic bomb attack. Anne Burden and her family lives in an isolated valley that has managed to escape the radiation fallout due to its unusual geographical wayout. Everything is brown and dead beyond the valley. However, everyone but Anne leaves the valley to see if anyone else survived in neighboring towns. They never return. It has been a year and Anne believes she may be the last person alive on earth. One day she sees a thin line of smoke on the horizon from a campfire. She is afraid and hides. As she watches from a cave on the hillside, she sees a man wearing a helmet and a green suit with an oxygen tank attached to the back come into her valley. Anne realizes it is a radiation suit and the man has come through intense radiation areas and survived. After the man becomes sick Anne shows herself and nurses him back to health. She imagines they can re-populate the earth, but soon realizes Mr. Loomis, who was a nuclear chemist before the bombing, is carrying a horrible secret and it involves the radiation suit. When she realizes this she knows she is not safe and must act in order to survive. The book, written in 1974, dates itself by talking about phonographs and records, instead of cassettes and CD's and two kinds of gasoline-high test and regular. However, the basic premise of the story is very up to date. The war lasts one week and Anne describes the great mushroom pillar of smoke from the A-bomb and the radiation that kills everything outside the valley. The book also talks about the enemy using nerve gas and bacteria weapons at the end of the 7 day war. The book describes things and events very similar to ones we witnessed on T.V. and read about in newspapers during the recent confrontation with Iraq, as well as present tensions with Korea over nuclear weapons. Both high school students and middle grade students should be able to handle the contents of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Z for Zachariah, December 21, 2005
A Kid's Review
In the book, Z for Zachariah, Ann Burden believes she is the last person left on Earth after a nuclear war. She lives in a valley which "has its own weather", which protected her from the radiation. Her valley is the only thing with life in it for miles, possibly the whole world. On her farm, she raises chickens and cows, and she grows some of her food. She lives this lonely lifestyle for about a year until she sees someone coming.

In this book, the author describes the setting well. Although some things are not described in a lot of detail, I can still get a well constructed picture in my head of what the setting looks like.

Ann Burden is the main character in this book. She fits well into the book; she is a strong, independent girl. When Mr. Loomis joins her valley, things start to fall apart for her. Although they accomplish things that make their lives easier, Mr. Loomis starts to take control. This made Mr. Loomis seem like a bad character, while Ann looked like the good, innocent one.

Mr. O'Brien did a marvelous job creating his characters and their personalities. Everything he made fit into the book and its storyline. This shows his great writing style.

Overall, I found this novel a good one. I would give it 6 out of 10 stars. Some parts were confusing to me, while others are exactly the kind of reading I wanted. The author adds some suspense, and some good details, but I feel that he could have put more into the book, giving readers more to explore and enjoy. If you like shorter books that contain mystery and some action, I would recommend this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, September 3, 2007
This review is from: Z for Zachariah (Hardcover)
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. Though her final triumph involves some loss, it's clear Ann will persevere and find a way to survive and be happy, which makes the ending satisfying.

Z FOR ZACHARIAH is a story that will haunt readers long after they've put down the book. It shows both the good and the bad that can emerge from human nature in the face of catastrophe, and gives hope that even in the worst situations, there are those who will remain strong.

Reviewed by: Lynn Crow
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Z for Zachariah - Review, December 9, 1999
By 
Ann and Mr. Loomis are the only two characters in the book. They both live in a valley and are the only two people alive on the planet (that they know of) because of a nuclear war, causing radioactivity. Ann is a smart, hard working, and very dedicated 16 year old girl. Mr. Loomis is a smart chemist from Cornell College in New York, who has beat the radioactivity and got to the valley by wearing a "safe suit".He is also very sly. At first they both work together in the valley and hope to keep it alive and prosper, until Mr. Loomis changes his mind. A good part of this book is when Mr. Loomis is very sick and Ann is taking care of him. Because of his fever, he has nightmares and thinks they are real. He talks out loud and gives Ann alot of information about himself and his past. At one point he hallucinates and sees a person from his past. When he goes to shoot at him, he actually shoots through a window. I recommend this book to anyone because it is very interesting and keeps you wondering what is going to happen next. Even if you are not a big science fiction fan (like me), it is still very good and is hard to put down!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book, January 23, 2004
By 
GWT (Down South) - See all my reviews
I read this book in the 9th grade, and my wife and I just read it again after finding it in a box in my parents attic (26 years laters). My main reason for writing this review is to first, highly recommend it to others. It's an easy read and can be completed in no time, for those who don't like a long novel.
Secondly, I'd like to comment on the review by J. R. Fredsall from Sydney, Australia, listed below. This is not a scientific novel, or a classroom science book. It is a fictional novel like many, many others. If every novel were to be 100% factual, non-fiction would not exist, and the mind would have no way to escape the world we live in. Thank goodness authors don't take Fredsall's views for granted and write all their books based on scientific facts. There is a place for scientific facts to be presented, and fiction is not one of them.
And as far as Fredsall's view on the book containing anti-male events; my statements above can answer that as well.
Get the book and enjoy it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Z for Zachariah, November 19, 2003
A Kid's Review
I am 12 years old, and I read this book for my English class. I found this book to be very high-paced and it has a great narrative hook. It's not for kids 11 and under, however. It makes you think, alot. If your and English teacher, I highly reccommend this book as a class-read. I read it in 2 days.
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Z for Zachariah
Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien (Paperback - July 10, 2007)
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