Monday, August 6, 2012

8/12 Media of the Month: Z for Zachariah

I adore this novel. Truly and passionately love it. Z for Zachariah is one of those books that will sit forever in my permanent collection. I will buy a hardcover soon (I borrowed it from the library 2 weeks ago and read it in one day) Some of you may be more familiar with Robert C. O'Brien's popular 1971 children's novel, "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH." (aka Secrets of NIMH) 

Z for Zachariah was published posthumously in 1974. Robert C. O'Brien is brilliant. His scenes are so TIGHT. He weaves so much tension into this story and his characterization is perfect! I respect good writing and this novel is masterfully done. 

Z for Zachariah is a YA dystopian about the last two humans on Earth. Sort of a twisted reinterpretation of the Adam and Eve idea. The whole novel is told in a series of journal entries written by the main character, 16-yr-old Ann Burden. She believes she is the last person on Earth until a man arrives on her farm in a green radiation suit. Mr. Loomis, the controlling 30-something scientist is so perfectly characterized. Ann Burden is appropriately vulnerable but not helpless to Mr. Loomis' force. His paranoid need to conquer Ann is what wracks up the tension in this book. Ann's terror is palpable in each chapter. I was glued to the edge of my seat, shivering with excitement, as I turned the pages. The conclusion is stunning. I'm still haunted by it. It will perhaps linger in my brain forever. Doomed and or ambiguous endings are my favorite! 

Religion vs. Science and Femininity vs. Masculinity are the main political themes here. Even the title of the book is a Biblical reference. Robert C. O'Brien shows his skill in the way he delivers his message. He does not preach. He does not lecture. He presents both characters in an uncomplicated, sympathetic and mature way. I am always awed by male writers who "get it" when it comes to feminism. Z for Zachariah is brilliant. I wish Robert C. O'Brien had written more before his untimely death. At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will probably read it more than 5 times before the summer is done. Hands-down, the best book I've read this year. Engaging YA is always a joy to find! Adults and middle-school kids will enjoy this book! 


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