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

Z for za

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Ann Burden has been living on her own for nearly a year when a man tumbles into her valley. This might not seem too unusual, except that the world was desecrated by a nuclear war. This stranger and Ann, may very well be the last people on Earth. As she turns sixteen, a crucial year for any teen, her life revolves instead around her safety.

As the two between comrades of this radiated world, Ann hopes for a positive future. But how much can someone trust a stranger even if they are the last on the planet?

What a great vintage YA! This is a fantastic example of how I wish modern YA would explore with main female leads. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE ROMANCE YEAH? Ann is a brilliant female character, full of thought, logic and bravery. She rocks! Power to girls everywhere for learning how to rework a tractor when electricity doesn’t exist! She is flawed with her caring, but that’s a good thing in the end. Ann just never gives up and is a beacon of hope. Ah, how there needs to be more characters written with strength like Ann Burden!

As this is vintage YA, it’s riddled for discussion. The male character Mr. Loomis is a textbook example on why men in power just end up killing everyone. Just because he’s a man doesn’t mean he actually knows what’s best. I mean seriously, a scientist that believes he knows more about farming than an actual farm girl? Pla-LEASE. I bet this book makes a lot of men uncomfortable. Losing control is not easy for anyone, but as men are usually in that position, seeing his deterioration provides a humbling experience for everyone including myself.

I was on edge with each chapter. Even with the simple plot I didn’t know what was coming next. It’s short and well written and stands as an excellent example of why we as humans should never let science grow out of control. In the end, the Earth will always find a way to be the victor. 

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Vintage YA – The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Anne Frank

This is a no brainer. The beautiful crafting of words by the dear Anne Frank is something that everyone should read once in their life. Raw, emotional and up close, Anne doesn’t leave anything out as she confines her thoughts to ‘Kitty’ on growing up in hiding from the Nazi’s during the 1940’s.

Young Adult writers would do best to learn from one of the greatest teenage writers in the world. Her talent within the craft of writing outshines many adult authors. Her story had a bit of everything, mystery; romance, growing up angst and goals.

However, Frank’s story isn’t fiction. Its honesty proves that teens are not alone in how and what they feel. Throughout time the emotions are roughly similar. (granted, this is a big rough)

Frank had such promise. Her diary was only the beginning but the world will always be wondering what else she would have created if given the chance she deserved. 

David by Mary Hoffman

Gabriele moved to Florence in hopes of earnings funds to support a future with his beloved back home. Instead his good looks and innocence take him on a political journey he never expected. Learning the ropes of life in a big city, Gabriele and his ‘milk’ brother, budding artist Michelangelo work together to create a unexpected symbol of the republic, a marble statue of David. Passion, art and politics, Gabriele grows up to discover just what is important in one’s life.

Normally I love historical fiction and a few weeks back I praised the amazing historical YA novel Velvet by Mary Hooper. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same way about Hoffman’s David. I found Gabriele to be lacking in character development, boring as wood and a bit of an idiot. He told the story rather than show it and I found myself falling asleep after the first few chapters. I understand that Gabriele is meant to be an ignorant stonecutter, but he stayed that way all through the novel.

Although I didn’t personally enjoy the book, I did enjoy Hoffman’s writing style. I honestly think most of my dislike of the book is due to the subject matter. It’s not a particular historical period I care about and I know nothing about the political conflicts of the time. Regardless, Hoffman’s writing is brilliantly researched and it brings the reader back in time. For those that love this time period and Italian history, it’s a wonderful read. Just because I didn’t like doesn’t mean that others won’t. I think I’m on the odd end in my feelings of the book. It’s a perfect YA choice for guys and I praise Hoffman for tackling such a difficult (not to mention rare) readership.