Friday, 27 May 2011

Z is for... Zachariah

We come to the end of this A-Z challenge with a look at the apocalyptic novel Z for Zachariah. I remember reading this book at school - the premise is as haunting as it is simple. At the end of a nuclear war, sixteen-year old Ann Burden lives alone in a valley that has escaped contamination. She thinks she is the only person left alive in the world until one day a man appears in a radiation protection suit on the ridge of the valley. The initial euphoria of knowing she is not alone is soon replaced by fear of his intentions.

The protagonist is well-named, as the burden she carries is heavy. The realities of living in a destroyed world, of being the last one left, are well imagined, to the point where you can almost hear the lonely echo as she speaks. In a way this is a twisted version of Adam and Eve, and it is very frightening in places, as the Garden of Eden, the valley, is already poisoned.

There is a crumb of hope buried in this novel, much as the subject matter is bleak. It is the sort of story that stays with you long after the book is back on the shelf, and as such is a fitting end for this challenge. I hope you have enjoyed the posts – normal service will resume shortly!

Z for Zachariah
Published: 1973
Author: Robert C. O'Brien

End fact one: The A-Z post to attract the most comments (72) was, unsurprisingly, the first one, A is for Alice.

End fact two: I've loved every single one of your comments through this challenge. Thank you for sharing your reading memories and anecdotes along the way. Did I miss any of your favourites?

End fact three: U, X, and Y were the hardest - couldn't think of any characters from children's fiction whose name began with those letters.

End fact four: I really enjoyed writing the posts for this challenge but real life just parked itself in the way of finishing in April.

End fact five: Welcome to all new folk who came here via the challenge! I look forward to visiting over at your blogs very soon.


Out on the prairie said...

Having gone to school during the cold war i remember a few drills to avoid the fallout, when in a sense we would have been too close to a air base that would have been a quality target.

Laura M. Campbell said...

I'm new to the novel Zachariah, but it sounds interesting. It reminds me of the graphic novel my boyfriend begged me to read, Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn (he joined TV show Lost as a writer for the last two seasons). I fell in love with it and highly recommend it.

AC Quigley said...

I remember reading this at school too. Many of your A-Z posts have brought back childhood reading memories! Congratulations on making it to the end.
Have a great weekend.

Talli Roland said...

Yay! You made it!

I've never heard of this novel, but it sounds like something I'd have enjoyed.

wannabe a writer said...

Hi Jayne

This novel was a new one on me - sounds a bit scarey actually. Looking at your previous posts I did wonder if your Z post would be Zachery Quack but you're too original for that.

Well done for reaching the end - you've given all your readers some food for thought over the last few montbs.


nutschell said...

I'm so glad you decided to push through and finish with your A-Z posts! This is such an accomplishment. April was such a crazy month, and though I finished all my posts I wasn't able to visit everyone on the challenger list(I have 62 more blogs to go!)
HOpe you have a great weekend!

Catherine said...

Hi Jayne! I just read your profile. You're too cute! I want to come back as a well loved cat in my next life! :)

Happy Weekend!
xo Catherine

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Jayne -do call again. My A would not have been Alice but Anne of Green Gables - I have read the book so many times and enjoy it each time.
I have also been to L M Montgomery's house in Canada, which brought the whole thing to life.

snafu said...

Congrats on your finish. I only came upon your posts over half way through, but they have all been interesting and informative. Being a touch older than you, most of the books you remember from your childhood means that if I have come across them they were books my children read, but having read many of them too I have enjoyed the nostalgia.

Pat Tillett said...

I've never seen it or heard of it, but it sounds pretty interesting.