This book is sort of “dystopia before dystopia was cool.” Dystopian fiction has been quite popular during the last decade, from The Hunger Games trilogy to the Divergent trilogy (final come books out October 22!). However, authors have long been telling tales about not-too-distant futuristic times in which the world has the possibility of becoming perfect but is actually quite imperfect instead.
Z for Zachariah was published first in 1974, at a time when nuclear war was an all too present threat. This book may be more apocalyptic than dystopian, but it definitely has a similar feel.
Author: Robert C. O’Brien
Genre: science fiction
Age group: young adult
Synopsis: By some miracle of geography, the valley where sixteen-year-old Ann Burden lives remains practically untouched by a nuclear war that has destroyed the rest of the world. Outside the valley is only death and destruction. Determined to see if there are any other survivors, Ann’s parents leave the valley. Ann survives alone in the valley for a year without any sign of return from them. Finally, a man in a strange green suit appears. He is a scientist and has found a way to survive in the radiation-filled world outside the valley. Ann begins to dream of building a new life with this man, but he has other ideas.
This book is definitely more young adult than middle grade because of some mature topics, but it’s still quite tame compared to many YA books today. I enjoyed this “what if” premise. What if you were left alone and you thought the survival of the human race depended on you and one other person? What risks would you be willing to take to secure your own survival?