Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Girl Who Owned a City” as Want to Read:
The Girl Who Owned a City
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Girl Who Owned a City

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  2,956 ratings  ·  387 reviews
When a plague sweeps over the earth killing everyone except children under twelve, ten-year-old Lisa organizes a group to rebuild a new way of life.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Carolrhoda Books (first published 1975)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Melody
Jan 01, 2011 Melody rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: Wendy Burton
This is hands-down one of the worst books I have ever read. Pedantic in the extreme, nonsensically plotted and full of so many holes it looks like lace. And the writing is abysmal. Wait, what's worse than abysmal? Right, this book.

A plague has wiped out all the adults, so they are freshly dead. Except there aren't any bodies. Not one. They seem to have vanished, poof. Electricity doesn't work and there's no water to any of the houses, but there aren't any sanitation discussions. Apparently the p
...more
Flourish
When I first read this book (as a child), I didn't realize that it was an attempt to bring objectivism to kids, to which I can only say, "hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!" And yeah, okay, it was Ayn Rand for 10-year-olds. That said, I still really like it. I feel like it was formative for me. Do I agree with everything in it? No. But I prize individualism and self-sufficiency - and I think that this book may have been part of what made me that way. Those are values I'd like to pass on to my kids, ...more
Sara
I read this in junior high. I can't remember a lot of details, just certain specific incidents come back to me at different times. Sometimes I think - remember when that girl in that book went to the grocery store and was glad the gang members hadn't taken the medicine, just the potato chips? Or, remember when that girl from that book had to learn to drive and didn't do so badly and was glad there was gas in the car? Then I start to think how hard it would be to start over again when all the adu ...more
Alyssap
Some stories come around and you can’t help but keep reading them. One of those books is The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson. It’s an amazingly descriptive story about a world that is only inhabited by kids.
The story starts by 10 year old Lisa, the main character, breaking into a vacant house to steal supplies like food and candles. At first, it just seems like she’s a thief, but you will soon change your mind. She spots a note on the way out written by a father explaining to his sons tha
...more
Katie
Oh, this book. The eight-year-old me who first discovered it would give it a 5-star rating. Twelve year old me would probably put it at 3. And as an adult, I want to give it a 1. So, I have given it a 2, overall.

This book is why I became interested in dystopian fiction. It is also why, as other reviewers have commented, I pass by school buildings and wonder what it'd be like to build a community within them.

But it really isn't that good. It's actually poorly written in many ways - the timeline i
...more
Delaina
Let me start by saying that I didn't finish this so-called novel -- in fact, I didn't get past chapter 5. I kept thinking to myself that it would get better, but as the plot got rolling the unrealistic elements leaped out even more strongly than before. From page one, I felt the writing was less than acceptable for a published novel. (And when I saw the author's dedication to 'Lisa and Todd' I knew that a large conceit like super-characterizing your own children would lead to many, many others.) ...more
Grace
Okay, this is a review with major qualification.

I read this first when I was nine, and I loved it. I think I read it along with some other apocalyptic scenarios, and this was also the time I started in on sci fi, so altogether I was looking for adventure. Somehow this book lodged in my mind and I only recently got my hands on it again. And once I did, I burst out laughing: this is a libertarian call to action!

I'm much savvier politically than I was at 9 years old, and it's hilarious to realize t
...more
Lauren
I've been looking for this book forever. All I could remember is reading an older book about a city where the adults died and the kids had to survive. Finally found it! I checked this book out over and over and over and over and over from the library when I was in middle school. Loved it. Was addicted to it. Finally found it. So happy!
Daniel .e
The Girl Who Owned a City
Picture yourself in a world without parents, without TV and other electronics. Now picture yourself looking for food in abanded homes. If you can picture that, than you understand some of Lisa’s life. Lisa is a 10 year old girl whose parents were taken by the plague. Lisa has a 6 year old brother Todd. Lisa has to get food for Todd and her. A problem is that when the plague struck gangs formed immediately. So Lisa has to look in places that haven’t been ransacked already
...more
Fiver
A dismal and hugely overrated experience.

We all have a weak spot in our literary preferences, and I have a particular one for post-apocalyptic settings. But while most 'PA' stories smartly take advantage of the thrills found in survivalism and violent conflict, I'm a real sucker for the focus on rebuilding, on the need for organization and structure, and the intricate task of reintroducing it into the world. So I thought I would enjoy "The Girl Who Owned A City", which I'd heard focused on this
...more
Grace
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas Ryerson
I originally read this book back in Grade Seven, (1977-1978) and loved the concept. No parents! I was surprised that the author, Terry Nelson, didn't write any sequels. I see in searching for this book today, another author may have taken the lead from Terry and done just that. This book could have easily gone into a 10 volume set of Lisa's adventures.

The Girl who owned a city definitely influenced two of my own books; Castle Lake and Fun City. My character of Alicia Murdock in Castle Lake has
...more
Cheryl
After a virus wipes out everyone over age 12, one girl finds she has enough determination to not only survive against the gangs, but also to make plans to rebuild a community for hundreds of other children. It's a little implausible, of course, but the author makes it seem possible. And it's a little didactic, but then lots of children's books are. And, as it's told in omniscient third, there is more telling than showing. Still and all it's interesting, exciting, and would be well-suited to many ...more
Lauren R.
The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T Nelson is mind catching story about Lisa and Todd’s life style. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it explains there life in a not so normal way. I liked that Lisa and Todd both worked together to help each other through good and bad. The showed great team work when Lisa asked Craig if he could come with her to the secret and he said yes so that’s were Lisa and Craig’s team work began.

In this story I like how it had good details and adjectives. An e
...more
Anastasia (Here There Be Books)
-- Originally reviewed at Here There Be Books on October 1, 2009. --

Wikipedia says that Mr Nelson intended TGWOAC to basically be a Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy for dummies, which is probably why I hated it so much. Not that I necessarily have anything against objectivism, but from the first page you can tell pretty quickly that a) the book is written badly, b) it's trying to force a viewpoint across to the reader and c) this would make a great SyFy movie.

So, yeah, I pretty much hated every
...more
Leporidae
It's hard to review a book when you've read it as both a child and an adult. The kid in me still loves this book, but the older me isn't sure how much of that is genuine adoration and how much is just the rose-tinted glasses that color memories from that time in my life.

I first read this book in fifth or sixth grade, I think, and at the time it was exactly the sort of thing that appealed to me. Kids running around without any pesky adults to tell them what to do, and, despite their hardships, le
...more
Cecelia
The Girl Who Owned a City

By: O.T. Nelson

The Girl Who Owned a City is a fictional dystopia or a post-apocalyptic story, where a disease wiped out all people ages 13 and older. Ten-year old, smart, and creative Lisa becomes the leader of Grand Avenue, a neighborhood, and all the children in it. Because of Lisa and her big ideas, the citizens of Grand Ave. have food, shelter, and protection from the gangs, which were formed as a source of power to acquire food and other vital necessities.

Lisa and h
...more
Monica!
Normally, when I'm reading a book set in a disastrous post-apocalyptic world, I find myself thinking "Wow, I would fail at this. I'd be dead in a hot second." Not so with The Girl Who Owned A City! I'd have been fine!

I mean, not only does the title character manage to find both a warehouse of food and a fortified building to live in, but her post-apocalyptic world does not appear to be ravaged by fire, plagued by disease, or filled with piles and piles of the rotting bodies of everyone over the
...more
Rachael
I'm reading this now with my 6th graders; I think it's at 5th grade level. They love it so far and ask questions compulsively--sometimes we can't get to the bottom of the page without 5 or so questions. They are baffled by the world without adults and keep asking things like, what happens if she runs a red light? Oh yeah, there's no more electricity so there are no red lights. Why don't they have eggs for breakfast? Oh yeah, there are no farmers living or delivery trucks or stores where they can ...more
Nicole
The Girl Who Owned a City is a book that I can really relate to. Lisa is the main character of the book, and she is 10 years old. You might say, what's so interesting about a 10 year old girl? Well that’s when you're wrong. Lisa's life had change a lot when their parents died from a terrible plague that swept across the earth. And the weirdest part is, only kids who are 12 year old or younger doesn't get infected. But that’s what makes the story interesting.

Everyday, Lisa will have to search for
...more
Katy St. Clair
I bought this book at a funky, tiny used bookstore in like, baltimore, when I was a kid, and it quickly became The Greatest Book I Had Ever Read. I liked any book where the kids are forced to be independent and act like adults, and a plague that kills all the grown-ups was just the ticket! The protagonist has to learn how to drive a car on her own, something I totally dug... and she and her pals all holed up in a school and became lords of the city. It is satisfying to see so many people on here ...more
Tyree
This book is about a girl named lisa who lives alone with her brother Tom. When she was young her mother and her father died so they are living a terrible life. Thats not all, they are living in a neighborhood where there are gangs and stuff. Also there are only teenagers and kids because last year there was a virus that went around and killed all of the adults. So the all the stores are empty and they have to find out how to survive.
I can connect to this book because once there was a black ou
...more
Chris
One day my girlfriend was actually out of the apartment and attending some obligation without dragging me along . In strict accordance with her habits, she continuously suspected I was scampering about with a bevy of well-endowed trollops and expected to come home to our domicile to find it reeking like the summer of 69. In actuality, I spent a large portion of these three glorious hours reading pre-teen literature....

I can’t even guess as to when I first read this book but I think it must have
...more
Estella
Considering the demographic for which this book was intended (preteens), it has some great things in it. Young readers will turn pages to see what happens next in this post-plague, children-rule-the-world society, where one girl, Lisa, emerges as leader thanks to her resourceful thinking, bold actions, and persuasive personality.

The children do everything from drive cars to perform minor surgery. They even defend their city using military force (beware of children using guns and dropping boilin
...more
Dan Phillips
Had a conversation with my mother-in-law this past summer trying to remember books I'd read as a kid, especially dark, post-apocalyptic ones. The Girl Who Owned a City was the one I remembered best -- or at least remembered LIKING best. That and the premise: A virus has killed everyone over the age of twelve, and now these kids in suburban Chicago have to fend for themselves. In the process of locating the book, I learned that its author was a big Ayn Rand follower, and his intent in writing TGW ...more
Elaine
Nov 29, 2013 Elaine rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: 2013-11
I saw this book listed recently as one of several YA post apocalyptic titles. It sounded interesting and the concept was fine.

The writing however was stilted and the story line completely unbelievable.

Everyone over the age of twelve has died in less than a week due to a virus. The children are left alone and starving.

In less than a year, we are expected to believe that they not only survive, but thrive.

The book was written in 1975 and even for that time the gender roles are out of date. The gir
...more
Megan
Preachy, preachy, preachy! The book may well have been intended for the middle school set, but it’s written for third-grade reading comprehension. The characters are flat and/or totally out of their minds (I’m talking to about you, Lisa), the story is weak and barely supported, and the plot themes are completely unrealistic. If the author had brought the age of most of the kids up to, say, 15 or 16, the book would have been much more believable, and she could have utilized more dark, adult theme ...more
John
I read this because it was on my daughter's summer reading list. It was an interesting read and the plot was interesting enough (though far-fetched) to keep the story moving. However, there was something about it that bothered me --- and then I realized --- it's basically the author's attempt to convince folks of the need for libertarianism!! That's the part I didn't appreciate, trying to get our school-age children, in a subliminal way, to think of liberalism as the way our government should be ...more
Miah
Read this in 6th grade. I thought it was amazing.
Rayan
In the story the girl who owned a city, a horrible disease has swept through the world, killing all people above the age of 12, now with only children in the world, they must learn how to survive and make the world anew. However instead of trying to figure out how to live and get food on their own, many of these children have resorted to making gangs and stealing food from other children. In the midst of all this commotion is a girl named Lisa. She must learn how to form a city out of all the ch ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Heavenward Path (Mitsuko, #2)
  • The Class Trip (Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition, #1)
  • Who Ran My Underwear up the Flagpole?
  • G.A. Aiken Bundle: The Dragon Who Loved Me, What a Dragon Should Know, & Last Dragon Standing
  • Hanatsukihime, Vol. 02
  • Sugar Sugar Rune, Volume 5
  • Princess of the Damned
  • My Fair Viking (Viking I, #6)
  • Ghost Hunt, Vol. 1 (Ghost Hunt, #1)
  • Empty World
  • The Woman in the Wall
  • I Want to Go Home!
  • Neptune's Children
  • Below the Root (Green Sky, #1)
  • The White Fox Chronicles
  • The Secret Under My Skin
  • Vampire Game, Volume 01
  • Mona Lisa Eclipsing  (Monère: Children of the Moon, #5)
The Girl Who Owned a City

Share This Book