Z for Zachariah– A Review

Posted June 11, 2017 by Aleya in aleya, College Assignment, Reviews / 0 Comments

Z for Zachariah– A ReviewZ for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien
Published by Heinemann Educational Books on October 25, 1976
Genres: Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic
Pages: 249
Format: Print, Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

Sixteen year old Ann Burden has been left alone in a world torn asunder by nuclear war. She lives in a valley near Amish country alone when one day smoke in the distant radioactive zone captures her attention. Ann is burdened with the decision on what to do about a possible survivor. Can the person coming to her valley be trusted? Does she have any choice?

Jane Addams Children's Book Award Nominee (1976), Edgar Award for Best Juvenile (1976)

My Thoughts

Z for Zachariah is a classic novel in YA literature. This book is told in a diary format which lends well to newer readers. This novel is strong for the simple language and the attention to detail. Diary formats are great for younger and newer readers because it allows the reader an easier entrance into the character’s lives. Ann’s diary format is easy to read as well because of her age. The attention to detail is another strength for this book. There are many aspects of farming that Ann goes into depth during this book. Readers will leave the book with a deeper understanding of how Ann and Mr. Loomis managed to survive. Science fiction fans will enjoy the attention to detail in regards to the science of the suit Mr. Loomis arrives in. Readers may find Ann’s reactions towards Mr. Loomis not entirely believable. There are many times in which a reader may get frustrated with Ann’s compromising.

This book is important because it emphasizes hope even at the end of the world. Young readers will be hooked on the fate of Ann and Mr. Loomis. They will hope alongside Ann as she struggles to ensure life goes on. This book is also important because it teaches readers to be careful. Conflict can arise even between the supposed last two people on earth. Readers will leave the book wary but hopeful. This book is an important post-apocalyptic novel, especially now. The world young adults are living in now is filled with weapons just like the ones that tore Ann’s world apart. Teens will find hope in the survival of Ann and her continued hope.


To continue engaging with the text, readers can create new materials to go with their books. There are three activities that a group can divide up and do. The first group can work individually or as a group to create what happens to Ann next. The second group can work on creating a large map of the Burden Valley area. The third group can discuss an alternate ending for the book by changing one decision that Ann made. These three groups can switch out so everyone has the chance to work with the text in different ways. At the end, each group can take turns sharing and discussing what they did in each group.

Related Resources

Young adult readers can be struggling in their day to day lives. Therefore, hope is a great theme to explore further. “The Psychology of Hope” is a PDF that provides evidence to the importance of hope. This document is also great for students because they emphasize the importance of hope when in college. It also mentions the importance of hope when someone suffers from injury or disease. This document provides a scientific look into hope in order to show readers that Ann’s hope was not misplaced.

Lopez, S. J., Dr. (n.d.). The Psychology of Hope. Azusa Pacific University. Retrieved June 10, 2017, from http://www.weber.edu/WSUImages/leadership/docs/sq/azusa/general/psychology-of-hope.pdf

Ann survived out in the middle of a valley, but what if disaster strikes in the city? Survival is such a heavy theme in this book and readers may learn something of surviving in a country situation, but not a city. This resource provides blog articles on different survival tips. It provides articles on survival gardening, first aid, DIY ovens and stoves, and so much more.

Urban Survival Site. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2017, from http://urbansurvivalsite.com/categories

Published Review

Z FOR ZACHARIAH by Robert C. O’Brien. (2012, May 4). Retrieved June 10, 2017, from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/robert-c-obrien/z-for-zachariah/


I’ll have several reviews over the next couple of months in this format. I’m lucky enough to be taking an Advanced  YA Literature class for my Master’s in Library Science. It’s going to be a fun class. I hope you guys liked this! It’s a challenging review to write, but rewarding once it is done. Thanks for reading!

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