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Z for Zachariah

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  13,704 ratings  ·  1,616 reviews
Ann Burden, the lone survivor of a nuclear holocaust, is threatened by the arrival in her valley of an unknown intruder. She hides, he watches and they both wait. Might he be a friend and ally, this scientist in a radiation-proof suit, or have the horrors he has witnessed turned him into something more sinister? The answer unfolds in a battle of wills which ends in a chill ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 26th 1998 by Puffin (first published 1974)
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Greg Frederick I love this question - it's obviously somebody wanting to get out of reading a book for school by getting answers to their worksheet questions off the…moreI love this question - it's obviously somebody wanting to get out of reading a book for school by getting answers to their worksheet questions off the internet... lame!(less)
Oni When Ann was a child, she learnt the alphabet with a Bible A to Z book (eg. 'A is for Adam'). At the end, there was 'Z is for Zachariah'. As Adam was …moreWhen Ann was a child, she learnt the alphabet with a Bible A to Z book (eg. 'A is for Adam'). At the end, there was 'Z is for Zachariah'. As Adam was the 1st man on Earth and was at the beginning of the book, she believed that Zachariah was the last man on Earth. She only believed this at the time when she was learning the alphabet, though.(less)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Z for Zachariah was a very suspenseful book. From the moment I started it, I had a knot in my stomach. For most of my life, I lived with my fear of nuclear war and its aftermath. As a child of the 80s, I remember that Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. Were the Soviets going to push the button, or the Americans? Either way, we'd both lose. I remember everyone in school was watching "The Day After Tomorrow," and I was afraid to watch it, but I heard all the ugly details. I inadvertently wa ...more
This was written in the early seventies for the dystopian youth market.

Wait... was there a dystopian SF youth market back then? Um... I guess so! I have this weird feeling like I just entered the twilight zone... but it must be true!

I'm used to 70's SF and Fantasy being very adult oriented and over the top. I think of Lucifer's Hammer or the other later classics of post-apocalyptic nightmares that came out later like The Stand and Swan Song and so many others, but here's the gorgeous bit:

Jun 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pleasureread
This is one of those books you read when you're in middle school, but you never forget about it. In fact, I've been ceaselessly frightened of radiation poisoning every since. Sort of like my plague fears, which developed immediately after I read the first chapter of Albert Camus's The Plague. If you didn't read this then, you ought to read it now; it's really fantastic.
Deborah Markus
This is the first time I've ever been tempted to utilize that "hide review because you're a big fat blabbermouth who can't talk about a book without ruining it for others" function. But the fact is, it's important for a reader of Z For Zachariah to be surprised by the nature of the stranger who shows up. And it's almost impossible to talk about the book in any detail without giving that away. And I want to talk in detail, because I like this book but I also find it rather baffling in certain res ...more
Nov 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

Yeah. That’s how this one is going to go. The expectations were high with this one. I first discovered this book when I found out it was being made into a movie so of course I was all about getting the book read first. Especially when I realized this author also wrote one of my favorites of all time: The Secret of Nimh . Naturally I couldn’t find a copy anywhere but FINALLY! Some luck blew my way and my library came through. I started it immediately. I finished it within 24 hours. And now I’m
Zuky the BookBum
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, 5-stars
This is my first ever reread of a book, and I think I made a good choice. I originally read this book back in school when I was around 13, but since then had forgotten what it was mostly about. What I mainly remembered was that it was quite dark and there was one particular scene that was definitly a shock for me as a young teenager. With all this combined, I thought this book would be the perfect reread. It was only when I looked it up on Goodreads before going on holiday that I realised it was ...more
Kate McCartney
May 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen-fiction
I really enjoy post-apocalyptic stories. I really liked the narrator and her ability to survive alone. But when I finished reading all I could think was I am so tired of bullying men. Tired of them in my movies, tired of them in my books, tired of them in the news and tired of them in my government.

Z for Zachariah was a very good post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel. It's important to note that the novel was first written and released in 1975. Keeping that time frame in mind, the way that sixteen year old Ann deals with the loss of her family and the events that follow are nothing short of amazing.

Ann, having lost her mother, father and two brothers, finds a way to not only go on, but build a life for herself at her family home in a valley that was remarkably saved from some of the fallout.
Aug 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
In the Old Testament, three tales of human frailty follow the creation of the world; Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Noah and the ark. In Z for Zachariah, Robert O'Brien novelizes the end of the world with a similar set of stories; in place of Noah's ark we have an anti-radiation suit designed just in time for the nuclear holocaust. The inventor of the suit murders his companion and wanders the blighted wilderness for many years, haunted by his crime as the post-apocalyptic answer to Cain.

But the
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book; the real horror of it isn't the nuclear devastation, but the feeling of being stalked and having no one around to help you get away. At first Mr. Loomis is a likeable character but he quickly takes a turn for the creepy, and that's when this book gets really intense.
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
At our local train station there is a small bookcase where those travelling through can leave a book they've finished or simply don't want anymore, and then another commuter can pick it up and read it on their journey. It's a simple and lovely idea. After perusing the shelves in January my wife became very animated. For on those shelves was one of a book from her childhood which both terrified her and fascinated her, a book she read and read, but which she hadn't seen a copy of since she was at ...more
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just re-read this amazing book that I've had for a long time. The first time I read it was when I was in 4th grade because my sister had read it. I found it boring. I read it again in 7th and understood it better than I had in 4th grade. And now, for 12th grade, it's just plain awesome. It's about a girl who survives the dropping of a nuclear bomb. She thinks she's the only one left alive, but soon discovers she is not alone at all. Not only is she alone, she's in great danger. I can't say any ...more
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
** Mild spoilers **

I'm surprised, I actually really liked this book! It's a reasonably old book and I didn't have great expectations, but this book hooked me in and made sure that I concentrated on finishing it.

Z For Zachariah is the story of a girl who's alone in a world that's been destroyed by nuclear bombs and radiation. As long as she stays in her valley, she is undisturbed and safe enough. And then one day a man in a plastic suit pulling a wagon covered in more plastic arrives. Ann is sus
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I read this book I was in sixth grade, I read it again in 2007.

Disappointed to learn Hollywood got its hands on this book and made it into a shitty movie. If you're going to read this book keep in mind there isn't a love triangle in it nor is it a love story. For the love of all that is holy, do not pick up this book thinking you're going to be reading a modern YA post-apocalyptic novel and then be all disappointed about the fact that it isn't all about sex. I swear to Iesha I'm
Yz the Whyz
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Lynn Crow for

Sixteen-year-old Ann Burden has been living on her own for a year, since the nuclear bombs turned everything surrounding her little valley into a wasteland, and her parents drove out to find other survivors... and never came back. Knowing she may be the only person left, Ann struggles with her loneliness and tends to the farm as best she can. But then a man comes over the hills in a protective suit and arrives in the valley. At first he provides Ann with
Lindsay Gassmann
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody.
I read this in my 6th or 7th grade english class. It is a wonderful story about one girls struggle to survive after a tragic event. I learned that you can not count on everyone to be there for you all of the time, that you have to be independant or else you will most likely will not it if you were to lose everyone.
Michelle Curie
Jun 22, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What if Adam and Eve don't get along? (And what if you read a book with absolutely no clue that it's aimed at an audience way younger than you thought it was?)

Every now and then I'll feel like indulging in a hypothetical apocalypse, which is what drove me to pick up Z for Zachariah as I was roaming the digital bookshelves for zombie attacks and radioactive catastrophes I hadn't faced on pages yet.

Z for Zachariah is intriguing at its core: after a nuclear war the only person left alive seems to
May 29, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
Wait, this is a YA/MG book?? Definitely couldn't have figured that out from the movie (which I am loving btw).
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I remember the TV adaptation the BBC did in the mid-80's and quite liked it and I thought I would give the book a go. Sadly the book is a bit of a drag. As others have pointed out, there's a lack of action. This is partly due to the 1-person/journal approach, which makes total sense but it does the rob the book of action in some key scenes. The bigger problem is the story zeroes in the day to day of surviving through farming/caring for a sick man without any real conflict. For me, a wonderful id ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a gem of a book! I chose this because I needed a book that begins with Z for a challenge and I’m so glad I chose this one. This is written like a diary and I’m such a fan of that. It makes the pages fly by. The diary is that of a sixteen year old girl that has survived a nuclear war and thinks she is the only one left alive. When suddenly someone arrives to her oasis. So good!! I could not stop reading. This was written in the seventies but really felt ageless.

FYI..... This is nothing like
Charlene Intriago
I recently saw the movie of this book and really liked it. Mankind has once again tried to destroy itself and there is one person left alive, at least that's what she thinks. So I picked up the book from my local library. Book started the same as the movie but after a few chapters there was a radical difference. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to see the movie first! But, then again, I would not have read the book if not for the movie. Just a three star for me. I liked it but I liked the movie ...more
Vicki Caton
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know about this book I suggest you read it and don't pay any attention to the movie, This book is about life after an atomic war where a 16yr old girl survives by living in a valley which somehow protected her from the nuclear fallout, thinking she's the only person alive she is shocked to see a man swimming in a creek which is radioactive and he get's very sick buts she nurse's him back to health, you would think being the only two people on earth things would change between man ...more
Octavia Cade
This is a tension-filled and well-written story about a young girl surviving in a remote valley after apocalypse. I was engrossed enough to read it in a single sitting, but it is also deeply, deeply irritating. You see, a man comes to the valley - another survivor, perhaps the only other one. And for about half the book I was thrilled, because I'd feared this was going to go the sexual assault and control route so beloved of post-apocalyptic narratives, and initially Z for Zachariah looked as if ...more
Ann Burden is sixteen years old, and the last person alive. She knows this because after the disaster, her family went off to search for survivors, and they never came back. Her valley is safe, somehow protected from the nuclear disaster that has wiped out the rest of the world by some sort of weather formation. And so she tills her field and keeps her house and stays alive, alone. Until he comes. When John Loomis shows up in her valley, wearing a safe suit that protects him from radiation, Ann ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Laurel-Leaf in The Turning Place: Stories of a Future Past.... On p. 41 I'm actually sort of bored, as it seems much like a generic old dystopia. I was also dismayed to learn that family finished this from draft & notes posthumously.
Almost done, want to say that it's certainly discussable. For example, (view spoiler)
Matt Pawlowski
A bit of a let-down this one was.

A tale of two post-nuclear holocaust survivors united by nothing short of sheer luck in the last remaining patch of fertile soil on planet Earth. I give this novel props for trying. It is based on a great idea, but unfortunately, the storyline is a bit dry and managed to leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

OK, so Mr. Loomis and whats-her-face are the last remaining humans on the face of the planet, as far as they know- I get that. But still, didn't anybody el
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Robert Leslie Conly (better known by his pen name, Robert C. O'Brien) was an American author and journalist for National Geographic Magazine. His daughter is author Jane Leslie Conly.

For more complete information on this author, please see:

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