Published by Candlewick Press on September 10th, 2013
Genres: alternate history, middle grade
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What if the bomb had actually been dropped? What if your family was the only one with a shelter? In the summer of 1962, the possibility of nuclear war is all anyone talks about. But Scott’s dad is the only one in the neighborhood who actually prepares for the worst. As the neighbors scoff, he builds a bomb shelter to hold his family and stocks it with just enough supplies to keep the four of them alive for two critical weeks. In the middle of the night in late October, when the unthinkable happens, those same neighbors force their way into the shelter before Scott’s dad can shut the door. With not enough room, not enough food, and not enough air, life inside the shelter is filthy, physically draining, and emotionally fraught. But even worse is the question of what will — and won’t — remain when the door is opened again. Internationally best-selling author Todd Strasser has written his most impressive and personal novel to date, ruthlessly yet sensitively exploring the terrifying what-ifs of one of the most explosive moments in human history.
Fallout really let me down. It’s my first Todd Strasser novel, and as much as I hate to say it, it will probably be my last. I wouldn’t say my expectations were super high going into this, but I knew he had written A LOT of books, some of them adapted into films, so I knew he was a seasoned writer. I expected more. With a blurb like that, I expected excitement. I expected drama. I expected to be engaged to the story. But instead, I was bored and just ready for it to be over from page ten on.
I could have put the book down and read something else. But I have been DNFing way too much lately, and I have this new thing now that I am doing: when I read (and finish) a book I don’t particularly like, I reward myself with a book of my choice. At least that way I will get through the review books that are sent to me. I feel bad when publishers send me books that I can’t finish, so I have to start trying. Anyway, that’s what I did here. It’s not a bad book, but the characters are flat and I didn’t care about them. They were underdeveloped and really cardboard. You can’t care about someone you just don’t know. With a plot like this one, it’s kind of a must that I DO care.
Besides those flaws, there is also the matter of the really flat writing. It was mostly telling, it lacked imagery and emotion, and it was just very dull. Nothing special about it, and I found the blurb incredibly misleading. The adjectives used to describe this book could not be further from the truth. Impressive? LOL no. Terrifying? It should have been but it wasn’t anything close to that. Everything was just very surface. There was no depth.
This is supposed to be a book about a bomb being dropped in the year of 1962. Scott’s family is the only one in the area with a bomb shelter and some of his neighbors force their way in as the sirens go off. There is only enough food and supplies for four people, so what should have been an experience fraught with danger and drama left me feeling underwhelmed. The novel alternates between past leading up to the bomb and the present while they are trapped in the shelter. The style is choppy and it doesn’t build suspense very well.
I don’t really have a lot else to say about Fallout, because to put it simply, I just didn’t care. About anything. There was no skill in this novel. It felt like a debut novel for a mediocre beginning author. I gave it two stars for an interesting premise, but that’s about as far as that goes. There is just nothing here to praise. I can’t recommend it, unfortunately.