Publisher: Simon Pulse

Book Review – Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien

September 18, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 2 Comments

Book Review – Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’BrienZ for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien
Published by Simon Pulse on October 25th 1976
Pages: 249
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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two-stars

Is anyone out there?

Ann Burden is sixteen years old and completely alone. The world as she once knew it is gone, ravaged by a nuclear war that has taken everyone from her. For the past year, she has lived in a remote valley with no evidence of any other survivors.

But the smoke from a distant campfire shatters Ann's solitude. Someone else is still alive and making his way toward the valley. Who is this man? What does he want? Can he be trusted? Both excited and terrified, Ann soon realizes there may be worse things than being the last person on Earth.

Yeah. That’s how this one is going to go. The expectations were high with this one. I first discovered this book when I found out it was being made into a movie so of course I was all about getting the book read first. Especially when I realized this author also wrote one of my favorites of all time: The Secret of Nimh. Naturally I couldn’t find a copy anywhere but FINALLY! Some luck blew my way and my library came through. I started it immediately. I finished it within 24 hours. And now I’m sad.

First off, a few things you need to know. 1. This is a post-apocalyptic novel with not a whole lot of post-apocalyptic action going on. 2. If you picked this up based on the movie trailer, you’re going to be disappointed and/or confused because they have practically nothing in common. 3. There’s some animal cruelty that for once didn’t actually make me cry. Nah. I was enraged instead. And 4? There will be spoilers, but I’ll put them in tags.

We’re introduced to Anne who is sixteen years old and has been living on her childhood farm alone for the past year now. She resides within a valley that because of an inversion has escaped the havoc that the rest of the world has suffered. Her parents and two brothers went out searching for survivors after the nuclear war that happened that we never get any other details of besides the fact that it happened. They never returned. She’s cultivated a garden, has cows and chickens to keep from starving, and fortunately there is also a country store nearby that was pretty well stocked. Anne has done a pretty amazing job surviving all on her own but is understandably curious when she sees smoke in the sky indicative of a campfire. She watches it day after day as it gets closer and closer to her farm; closer and closer to whoever is lighting the fire to discovering her home. She retreats to a nearby cave with her dog Faro to monitor the individual and determine whether or not to let him know there’s one other survivor besides him.

John Loomis is a scientist from New York. His team was researching/developing radiation proof suits but there was only a single prototype in existence which is the only way he was able to survive the fallout from the bomb. Trudging through the remains of the Earth, he comes upon a strange sight: a green valley. After a year of walking, seeing nothing but Earth, the valley is a spectacular sight. He takes his helmet off and realizes he can breathe the air there as well. Unable to help himself, he dives into a small lake to bathe. Unfortunately, the stream that flows into that lake was still affected by radiation and he falls deathly ill.

Spoilers, ahoy! View Spoiler »

Z for Zachariah is actually an epistolary and is told via Anne’s journal entries. This style helped build Anne’s characterization  and her day to day life before her peaceful valley was encroached upon, however, this style lacked in getting a proper feel on her emotions. She talks about her family that drove away, never to be seen from again, in a very disconnected almost robotic way. Even with passages she’s written immediately after shocking things happen, I still felt a disconnect from how it seemed like someone in her position would feel. It’s a post-apocalyptic book (much like recently read Blindness) which is more a study of human behavior rather than a focus on the reasoning behind the war that caused the devastation. This is all well and good but I felt the characters were very black/white with Anne being the good, wholesome girl and Loomis being the mysterious stranger that we never learn enough about to make his actions comprehensible. One could argue that his last year of surviving alone was enough to change him, however, Anne had to work just as hard to survive. The character study could have gone a bit deeper to better understand the inner-workings of these two characters since they were the only two characters in the book.

I wanted to love this one so much but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I kept thinking that there would be some final twist but I reached the final page without it happening. The ending left me feeling very indifferent and just as emotionally disconnected as Anne. All in all, it’s not the worst post-apocalyptic book I’ve read but it’s certainly not the best.

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Book Review – Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

May 31, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 3 Comments

Book Review – Dangerous Girls by Abigail HaasDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse on May 7th 2013
Pages: 400
Genres: Mystery-Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Dangerous Boys

four-stars

Paradise in Aruba quickly gets gruesome in this ripped-from-the-headlines thriller (Kirkus Reviews) with a twist that defies the imagination.

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone could ever imagine...

‘One moment. One picture. One glimpse – that’s all it takes to make someone think they know the truth.’

 When Anna’s father moves her to Hillcrest Prep to increase her chances of getting into an Ivy League school, she meets Elise and the two become quickly enmeshed in one another’s lives. When the two go with a group of friends on a Spring Break trip to Aruba, it ends the brutal stabbing of Elise and Anna is accused of her murder, thrown in prison, refused bail and months pass in her cell as she waits for her trial to begin. But did she really do it?

Dangerous Girls is everything I love about a good mystery; it completely captivated me. The mystery kept me completely in the dark leaving me feeling like the book was taking me on one wild carnival ride. It helped that DG reminded me a lot of some of my favorite novels: the rich group of young friends that have no concerns for their wild ways was reminiscent of The Secret History and the twisted mystery with unlikable characters that you still can’t help but be intrigued by was reminiscent of a Gillian Flynn novel. The legal aspects and court room scenes were especially interesting to me and were done quite well. They read realistically without treading into the corny type of court room scenes we’re always given in movies. It was an all-encompassing mystery that started with the initial 911 call, took us through investigation, the legal proceedings and eventually answers the most important question: Who killed Elise?

Dangerous Girls was fantastically written and completely entranced me. I couldn’t put it down until the pages shared all their secrets with me. The author has written several other books, mostly YA contemporary, and while I’m more inclined to check them out now I do hope that she continues writing mysteries because she wrote Dangerous Girls like a total pro.

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Book Review – Far From You by Lisa Schroeder

November 21, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Far From You by Lisa SchroederFar from You by Lisa Schroeder
Published by Simon Pulse on December 18, 2008
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Verse
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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three-half-stars

Lost and alone...down the rabbit hole.

Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can by writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife.

But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.

Perhaps she's not so alone after all....

’Memories fall like snowflakes upon my dreams.’

The Storyline
Alice lost her mother years ago but it changed her deeply despite the fact that everyone else around her has moved on. Her father has remarried a woman named Victoria and they’ve just had their first child; Ivy. Not able to accept this new family of hers, she remains as distant as possible. The two constants in her life are her best friend Claire and her boyfriend Blaze.

On the way home from Victoria’s parent’s house, Alice, Ivy, and Victoria get stuck in a snow bank on the side of the road with very little to survive on. Despite the dreadful situation, it does allow Alice and Victoria to get to know one another and Alice finally begins to realize that there really is happiness still left in the world.

My Thoughts
Finding out that this was written in verse I immediately moved it up in my list. I’m new to discovering this writing style but it’s become an instant favorite of mine. I did enjoy the writing of Lisa Schroeder; it was chalk full of beautiful, vibrant lines.

The story itself was enjoyable despite its predictability, although I did not anticipate it being quite as religious as it ended up being. This was an extremely quick read that still manages to showcase each of the characters nicely and makes them thoroughly relatable. I definitely enjoyed it and will be adding Lisa Schroeder to my list of authors to look out for.

”…it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

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