- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Lexile Measure: 820 (What's this?)
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 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: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Z for Zachariah Paperback – July 10, 2007
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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.
About the Author
Robert C. O’Brien was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Williams College and graduated from the University of Rochester. He was a writer and editor for Newsweek, National Geographic, and other publications. He lived in New York City and then in Washington, DC, with his wife and four children. Z for Zachariah—which is now a major motion picture starring Margot Robbie, Chris Pine, and Chiwetel Ejiofor—was completed by his wife and daughter, with the help of his notes, after his death in 1973. He is also the author of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and The Silver Crown.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ann's "Zachariah" turns out to be a research chemist, John Loomis, who was in an underground laboratory when the bombs hit - along with a prototype radiation-proof suit. Wearing the suit, he's wandered around the country for a year before he finds the valley. Despite his precautions, he chooses the wrong stream to bathe in when he finally removes his suit, and Ann must nurse him through the agonies of radiation sickness. Will her new companion, this Adam to her Eve, be taken from her almost as soon as they've found each other? And if he doesn't, then what happens? Listening to the fevered Loomis's delirious rantings, Ann finds herself suspecting the the man in whom she's suddenly invested so much hope is holding back a sinister secret.
Robert C. O'Brien's "Z for Zachariah" is, along with Peter Dickinson's "Eva," about as bleak as any novel can get, let alone one targeted to the juvenile audience - bleak even for the post-apocalyptic genre - and, like "Eva," it's gripping and thought-provoking and likely to haunt the reader for years. O'Brien originally intended this is a novel for adults; I don't know whether he changed his mind or if it was his wife and daughter, who completed the novel from his notes after his death, who decided it belonged in the YA market. However it happened, O'Brien managed to create a novel that should engage and enthrall adults, adolescents, and even mature preteens. It's a deceptively simple novel, a quick read, and Ann is an engaging and sympathetic narrator. At the same time, the real richness to be found in this novel comes in contemplating it afterwards, weighing, evaluating, questioning, reconsidering. Ann and Loomis are people who have survived, and inevitably been changed by, a year of isolation, grief, fear, struggle, and repeatedly dashed hopes. O'Brien sets them down together in a sort of perilous paradise, and what happens there is as inevitable as it is unsettling.
The story begins with a girl named Ann Burden who has been left alone in a small valley on her parents farm to survive the aftermath of nuclear war. She is surviving well enough between the fresh food from the farm and the dry and canned goods at the local general store. When her parents, brother, and owners of the store left last fall to find other survivors and never returned, Ann knew she had to keep going as she had in order to survive.
Her lonely but peaceful existence was shattered, however, when she spotted a campfire coming her way through the barren, destroyed landscape. When the mysterious man in a big plastic suit enters the valley, she hides, afraid of what kind of man he is. When he impulsively jumps into a contaminated creek and becomes sick with radiation poisoning, however, Ann decides to abandon her hiding place in order to help him. But after she nurses him back to health, she realizes he is not happy to just share the valley with her- he wants it all, including Ann.
I have read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction in the last 12 months, so it is hard to surprise me these days in this genre, but when the man gets better and starts actually hunting Ann, it was just so disturbing! The way it was written, the way he hunts her, and the sheer magnitude of being the last two alive in this second horror scenario, got to me! It was truly unnerving to see his calculation and deception as he ties up her dog to use for tracking her, locks the store where she is getting her supplies, and takes the keys to her tractor.
This was a really interesting story and quite easy to read with low vocabulary level and comprehension levels. But I don't think this would be a great story for middle schools students- it is just too creepy in a subtle way that gives you the shivers! It would be a GREAT book for an older student who has a low reading level but seeks mature reading material. Now I am going to have to stockpile a HAZMAT suit along with my canned goods, shelter, and ark! I have got to find some cheerier books!