Friday, November 15, 2013

Review Me Twice: Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien

As I mentioned on Monday, Z for Zachariah was the book that Wil Wheaton says got him interested in reading. Going into it, I thought it was going to feel outdated, cliched, and bland (but I'll go into more depth with my expectations tomorrow). I was proven incredibly wrong.

By no means is this one of my favorite books, but I really did enjoy it. I look a good apocalypse-and-aftermath, and this book brings the good stuff. Based on the back cover summary, you have a girl living in this valley by herself after nuclear war destroyed basically everything. One day, she sees signs that she's not the only person left and someone is coming into her valley, and while it's great that she's not alone, maybe it isn't so great after all.

That's a situation covered in one of the short stories by Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles, one of my favorite books ever. Everyone on Mars fled to return to Earth because of complex reasons, and this guy thinks he's alone until he hears a phone ringing. He answers, meets the girl on the other end, and it turns out that they hate each other.

So even though this book is for a young audience, it takes its topic seriously and doesn't pander or patronize. I would actually consider it an adult story (you can't include even an implied, vague threat of rape without it being an adult story, I think) written in a way that's accessible to youth (no swearing, gore, etc.) It's like currently trending YA (books that treat teens like adults) but it was written in 1974, which is incredible.

This is the second time I've read this book, though, I had forgotten that I had read it until I picked it up again and got a chapter or two in.  I liked it when I first read it, I remembered, but it apparently didn't make enough of an impact to recall that I had already read it.

Funny thing, though, is that I remembered almost EVERYTHING that happened in the book.  I didn't remember the title, but this is a book I've actually actively remembered the details of over the years.  I remembered how it started, about the pet, about the man who joined her in the valley and what had happened before he got there.  There was only ONE thing I didn't remember correctly, and it wasn't that big of a deal.

So, there's something to be said about a book that, ten years later, I can remember every detail.  There are some books I love that I can't even remember that.  So overall, not a terrible book.

I will say, the one thing I DON'T like about it is that, after everything that happens, the girl continues to think, "Oh, it's my fault.  I'm not doing things right" which... kind of annoyed me because considering how independent she was, she didn't strike me as the type who would blame herself.

1 comment:

  1. Ann is an unreliable narrator--self-centered, self-justifying, hypocritical, and paranoid. She is mainly motivated by self-interested fears and wishful thinking, continually deluding herself to suit her feelings and interests. Because of her unreliability, the story is full of irony. Her selfishness and fear hinder her desire for companionship, causing her to distrust and misjudge Loomis. In the end, she ironically views him as crazy while she insanely leaves the last known habitable valley to find a valley in her dreams.