The Gadget
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The Gadget

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  224 ratings  ·  32 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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Community Reviews

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Collin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Phoebe
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
Terron
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...more
Dilan
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...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
Rebecca
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
Yana
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...more
Mitch Sutton
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
Kelly
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
jeff
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
Laurie
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.
Roxana
Jan 07, 2009 Roxana rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Jen
-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
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.
Clayton
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.
Kristin Yourdon
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.
Steven
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.
Aseel
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 story.so if you like to read this book it will let you learn a lot about yourself and more.
Butta
this book is good with a good ending
it the 1945s stphens dad is helping make the "Gadget" (the atomic bomb}
he has a friend who seems to be nice but in the end things turn out very strange
Anastacia
A fast, easy read. Poor Stephen didn't know who the bad guys were, when it was freaking obvious halfway in. I would recommend this book to kids interested in history.
David D.
Feb 17, 2008 David D. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Action / War Lovers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cinnapatty
This was an Iowa Teen Choice book 5 years ago. It's on the Battle of the Books list this year. It's about the building of the Atomic bomb. It was OK.
Marci
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 .
Annette
This award winning author died this year. This book is about a boy's adventures living in Los Alamos while the bomb was being developed.
Dee Brecke
If you like historical fiction, especially World War II books, then you should read this one.
Heather T.
Eh. It was an alright book...kind of hokey with some decent action scenes.
Dale
My grandson made me read this. The ending was a complete shock!
Jason P.
it's really good but predictable except at the end
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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-...more
More about Paul Zindel...
The Pigman The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds My Darling, My Hamburger The Pigman's Legacy Pardon Me, You're Stepping on My Eyeball

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