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

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Ann Burden is all alone on a farm after a nuclear war. A man named Loomis comes to the farm and they try to survive together.

Review: Amazing. Scary. Sad. Angry. Hopeful. Desperation. Edge of my seat. All this and more is what I felt as I read this book. The book starts out with the sentence “I am afraid.” The prose is simple and powerful. A slim book, but it packs a hefty punch.

Z for Zachariah tells the story of Ann Burden, a sixteen-year-old girl who is left alone on a farm after a nuclear war destroys the country around her. She is trapped in a valley that has protected her and the animals and plants around her. For all she knows, she is the last human on earth. And then one day she sees smoke from a campfire in the distance and her world changes. She is not alone. Now there is another, and his name is Loomis. What happens between Ann and Loomis is a game of cat-and-mouse, a struggle of human nature, and almost a re-telling of Adam and Eve. There are several moments in the book where you ponder life and death questions – moral questions that make you think “what would I do in their place?”

There is a movie coming out soon based on the book, although from the trailer and the synopsis that I’ve read online, I don’t know what on earth they are doing with the plot. There are really only two characters in the book, with a few other characters existing in flashbacks. But the trailer shows three people in the valley, and what looks to be the making of a love triangle. Why they must always change the story is beyond me … I just don’t get it! Why bother making a movie (or TV show – I’m looking at you Game of Thrones!) if you’re just going to change everything? But perhaps they’ll work some of those minor flashback characters into one of the characters in the movie somehow. I do love the casting of Margot Robbie as Ann. And I also really like the casting of Chiwetel Ejiofor as Loomis. They both look very strong in the trailer, but I’m concerned that they will change Loomis’ character somewhat to work in the mystery third character, named Caleb, who is played by Chris Pine. I don’t recall any character named Caleb in the book. Again, WHY CHANGE THINGS???!!!

I can’t say enough how much I loved this book. I can’t remember how I heard of it, possibly because I heard they were making a movie of it, but I did not read this book until recently, and I’ve read it twice in about 4 months I loved it so much. And I made my book club read it! This book came out in the 70s, and it is read in a lot of junior high and high schools. It brings up relevant topics of how to deal with adversity, and violence vs non-violence, and relationships between men and women. Also a theme of how science can be cold and unfeeling. And it gives us a strong, smart heroine who is a survivor.   I don’t remember reading a lot of books in junior high and high school with a female as a main character – one who made me go “wow – she is really awesome”. And I think the more that young girls are exposed to strong, smart women is good. The book also made for good discussion in my book club. And it is a very fast read.

Bottom Line: Go read this book. Now. Before you see the movie and it ruins everything.


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien

  1. Love your suggestion to read the book before the movie ruins it!! 🙂 This book does make for good discussion, although the male character didn’t come off too well when he was discussed in my book club. Another great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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