Z for Zachariah by Robert C O'Brien, 249 pages
YA Dystopian Challenge
Imagine if the worst happened - an atomic bomb that essentially destroys the earth were detonated. If for some reason, the sheltered valley you lived in were spared, and you ended up possibly the last person on earth. How would you live? Could you survive? Ann Burden, sixteen, is in this situation. She is surviving on the family farm, when a person arrives in her valley. Originally leery of the stranger, then hopeful, Ann tells her story in diary form.
This was the last book written by O'Brien, who also wrote Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. He died before it was completed, in 1974, and his daughter finished writing the book, based on his notes. This book was full of suspense as Ann deals with the stranger, Mr Loomis, and it kept me reading and worrying about what would happen. With only two characters to read about, I became attached to Ann quite quickly. She was a smart, resourceful girl, who thought carefully about the situation she was in, and about the motives and behaviours of Mr Loomis.
The imbalance of the relationship was very frustrating. He was the adult, and male, and he tried to take advantage of the situation. Ann stayed pretty level headed, and was braver and fairer to the situation than I thought she needed to be. It would be interesting to read the same story from Mr Loomis' point of view. If you are interested in post-apocalyptic fiction, this is an intense, suspenseful read, with a wonderful narrator and a story to keep you up at night. I'm putting it in my son's pile to read.