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The Gadget

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  314 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Near the end of World War II, scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico, are working on a project that will alter the fate of the world. Thirteen-year-old Stephen Orr is living at a top secret military base with his father who is a leading physicist building the atomic bomb. Stephen realizes the dangers involved when one of the scientists becomes hospitalized as a result of wor ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 11th 2003 by Laurel Leaf (first published May 3rd 2000)
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Sep 04, 2010 Collin rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 04, 2010 Terron rated it really liked it
The Gadget Book Review
Terron Robey

In the book, The Gadget, written by Paul Zindel, a remarkable story is told about the life of a teenage boy in the early 1940s. Steven, thirteen years old at the tim, moves away from his family in rough WWII effected Europe to an almost uncharted town near Los Alamos, New Mexico, with his father who is a physicist. His father is working on top secret project for the United States government to not only assist in the ending of World War II, but complete it. Th
Kelly Hoggons (Velvet and Vibranium)
This book is an incredibly easy read, but still fairly well written. There was nothing wrong with it, exactly; I just felt there was nothing in it to be wrong.

The story takes place on in Los Alamos, New Mexico while a group of scientists are making the atomic bomb. Stephen, the protagonist, is living with his father, a physicist, on a top-secret military base. Along with his Russian friend Alexei (does that set alarm bells off for no one else?), he begins to do what he is best at and snoops arou
Nov 22, 2013 Phoebe rated it it was ok
Spare writing and plenty of intrigue and action make this a quick read for reluctant readers. Stephen and his mother are living with relatives in London while his scientist father is in New Mexico helping with a top-secret project for the war. When tragedy strikes Stephen's cousin, and gets a little too close to Stephen, his parents decide that he should go to join his father. Stephen has a hard time adjusting to life at the Los Alamos base, especially since no one will tell him what's going on, ...more
Feb 23, 2009 Dilan rated it liked it
The book Gadget is about a boy name Stephen who has a best friend named Alexei. This book takes place between world war II and the Holocaust. When Stephen and Alexei play in their roof the Germans attack with bombs so Stephen survives and Alexei doesn't pay attention to what Stephen says so Alexei dies. Stephens dad is a high leveled scientist so he goes to New Mexico to try to create something to stop Hitler.

I made a text-to-self connection. I am somewhat like Stephen. I like to explore around
Brent Vincent
Jul 16, 2016 Brent Vincent rated it liked it
I remember reading this book when I was younger. I was incredibly interested in the creation of the atomic bomb, and this seemed like the perfect book. Reading it again it's not quite perfect, but it is still a great book on the subject for young readers. Having the viewpoint be that of a young boy helps keep things focused. The only thing that bothered me was that at times it felt like the child characters were simply used as a mouthpiece for the author and his thoughts. Now this is true of all ...more
Sandra Strange
Near the end of World War II Stephen Orr sees his British cousin killed before his eyes during the Blitz, then goes home to the US where it is safer living with his physicist dad, who is working on a top secret project in New Mexico. A spy story, a moral tale and factual history mix in this tale of the development of the atom bomb and its personal toll on scientists working on it. The novel presents both sides of the moral dilemma, the modern “politically correct” indictment of the decision, plu ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it
This book is required reading for the course I teach called Reading Across the Curriculum. It's the first book I've read by Paul Zindel and I liked it. Now that I have a sense of his writing, I look forward to reading The Pigman as well (the work Zindel is most known for). The Gadget would appeal to upper elementary and middle school boys especially, but girls would enjoy it too. It would be an excellent tie-in to a history unit on World War II and a science unit on radioactivity and nuclear wea ...more
Jun 07, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
The Gadget is told from the perspective of a young boy at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. The story is written in a very direct and fast paced style. Even though this is aimed at boys/tweens, the author managed to incorporate a good bit of historical detail. Although the author changed the dates and details, I really appreciated that he included the Demon Core incidents in the book. The descriptions of Trinity Site and the actual test were detailed and seemed very accurate. The plot inv ...more
Sep 08, 2009 Yana rated it liked it
Shelves: 11th-grade
The setting of this book takes place during the end of World War II in Los Alamos, New Mexico and is about a thirteen-year old boy named Stephen Orr who moves into a top-seceret military base with his father. His father, being one of the physicists builing "the bomb". Stephen learns about the risks the scientists go through and plans to find out what The Gadget is capable of doing.Teaming up with his friend Tilanov he finds out more than he expected.
I've read a lot of books on world wars but m
Ruth Ann
Nov 17, 2012 Ruth Ann rated it it was amazing
(view spoiler) ...more
Mitch Sutton
Nov 05, 2013 Mitch Sutton rated it really liked it
The Gadget, by Paul Zindel, takes place in the 1940's during a war. Stephens father is working on a gadget and Stephen and his friends are curious to find out what the gadget is. Later Stephen finds out what the gadget actually is and he is very disappointed. Stephen then goes through a lot and doesn't know how he can trust his dad anymore. I would recommend this book to someone who likes war and likes to read books that are very action packed. If you do enjoy this book, other books you may like ...more
Matthew Phillips
Sep 30, 2014 Matthew Phillips rated it it was ok
I didn't like this book very much at all. It was about a boy, who was living a normal life, but his life is suddenly changed when WWII happens. He moves from London to the USA, into a top secret base where his dad is working to build "The Gadget." It is a quick read, but isn't very entertaining, because all it is about is pretty much the boy just living at the base. There are a couple parts where I got into it, but I wouldn't recommend you read this book, and rather a book that would be a better ...more
Nov 02, 2008 Laurie added it
This book describes Los Alamos as a place of constant excitement, terror, threats of explosion and kidnappings. I think this has less to do with historical accuracy and more the author drumming up excitement (the kidnapping thing especially seemed silly). A certain character turns out to be a traitor, and I thought this was obvious from the start--and also ridiculous, since it's never explained why one young character, who has no official capacity, is given the run of the place. Not recommended.
Proving that there are just as many 'eh' young adult books as there are adult books, The Gadget was not very enthralling, which is sad since its backdrop is the creation of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. Overwrought seems the most appropriate word for the story (which is odd, since again, the backdrop is the creation of the atomic bomb), culminating with the son of a Russian-guard-dog-training-spy being run over by a train in the New Mexico desert hundred of feet above a gorge whose name escapes ...more
Luis E
May 21, 2015 Luis E rated it it was amazing
The book "The Gadget" is really good because it tells the story of a boy who is a son of one of the most brilliant scientist. His dad is needed to do some research in Los Alamos, United States. The dad goes from England to the U.S. Stephen Goes with his dad at a secret military base. He makes friends and soon discovers what his dad is working on. It is suppose to end world war 2. Stephen is surprised of what this new weapon can do. I would recommend this book to some one who likes action.
Oct 22, 2010 Clayton rated it it was amazing
i thought that this was one of the best books that i have ever read. It is a quick read but has so much good information about the time period. The book also has no boring parts what so ever. I really love how The Gadget captures we with great facts from the time that the first atom bomb was built, but i never got sick of reading it, or wanted to put it down. I will definitely be reading more books from this author in the future.
Jan 07, 2009 Roxana rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who enjoy adventure and mystery books
This book is about a boy named Stephen and his friend named Alexei. Stephen’s father is a high-leveled scientist that is offered a high opportunity to make a killing bomb that is supposed to be throwed to Hitler and his troops. Inconvenient things happen throughout the war for example that President Roosevelt is dead and that Hitler commits suicide. This book is filled with tension to the reader with its surprise able events that will leave the readers with a mouth open
-Stephen Orr’s dad is a physicist who works for the U.S. government during WWII. His dad is stationed in Los Alamos, New Mexico working on a top-secret project. Stephen (13 yrs.) spends his days trying to figure out what the project is. He snoops around with his new friend Alexei; and gets into trouble.
-Will he find out whats going on without getting hurt in the process?

This was a really good historical fiction novel; it gives a ton of information on WWII.
Ryan Goodrich
Oct 25, 2012 Ryan Goodrich rated it it was amazing
this book to me was very intense. i read it with my grandpa and we both thought it was very well written. i really liked the intense the intense situations the main character gets him self into. i liked the so much that i read all the other books that paul zindel wrote ( such as "the pigman", "the pigman's return", "night of the monster bat", and so on). this book in particualr i was able to read several times because i liked it so much.
Dayna Smith
The story is set in 1945, 13-year-old Stephen has been sent to stay with his father on a secret military base in New Mexico. His dad is a physicist working on a top secret project - bet you can guess which one. Stephen decides to discover what the "gadget" really is. What he learns could endanger not only his life and his father's, but the lives of all Americans. A really fast paced and gripping story. Boys will especially like it.
Kristin Yourdon
Jul 20, 2013 Kristin Yourdon rated it liked it
While this book was interesting at times, it was really predictable. I knew from the second Stephen met Alexei that he was a spy. Also, it was really depressing. It began with the death of Stephen's cousin during an air raid and ended with his best friend getting run over by a train, with not much to be happy about in between!
Cody W.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 05, 2008 Aseel rated it it was amazing
this book was so good. at first i thought this book is going to be boring because it is going to talk about the war but after i started to read it that another if you like to read this book it will let you learn a lot about yourself and more.
Jan 22, 2016 Kevin rated it really liked it
The Gadget will put you in the shoes of a inquisitive young Stephen Orr. Who spends the majority of the book trying to discover the secrets of his new home of Los Alamos New Mexico. As the reader you will be confronted with the ethics of using the gadget to end WWII.
Oct 15, 2008 Steven rated it it was ok
You'd think that this book is about a kid that is a boy genius or something that has glasses that he engineered himself to take him on a sweet adventure but it really has to do with world II and the atomic bomb if you take a closer look in his shades.
May 04, 2013 Heather rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, kids, lis-445
Eh. It was an alright book...kind of hokey with some decent action scenes.
Nathaniel Capeta
May 04, 2016 Nathaniel Capeta rated it liked it
Apr 27, 2010 Marci rated it it was ok
Told from the perspective of a teen living at "The Hill" this historicial book is not quite as interesting as the more recent Green Glass Sea .
Nov 06, 2016 Aaron rated it it was amazing
great young adult novel of the actual historical event of the atomic bomb test in white sands, new mexico.
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Paul Zindel was an American author, playwright and educator.

In 1964, he wrote The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, his first and most successful play. The play ran off-Broadway in 1970, and on Broadway in 1971. It won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was also made into a 1972 movie by 20th Century Fox. Charlotte Zolotow, then a vice-president at Harper & Row (now Harper-
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