Book Review: Fallout by Todd Strasser

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What if … every novel starts with a “what if” concept — and none more chilling than the premise of Todd Strasser’s Falloutin which the author realizes the worst fears of the Cold War.

fallout_todd strasserIn 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.

Teen readers today don’t know the fears of the Cold War first hand; frankly, at age 30, neither do I. But it’s a prevalent part of recent U.S. History — and with the on-going conflicts overseas, and 9/11 still fresh in my memory, the imagined horrors of Fallout are eerie and chilling to read about.

More than just the concept of a nuclear attack, Fallout examines a very niche aspect of what a disaster would mean to a few very specific people. What happens to the handful of regular, everyday people who manage to find safety inside a bomb shelter — only to face the harsh realities of their loved ones deaths outside, a fast-shrinking ration of food and air, and the cramped, close quarters living in a bomb shelter for weeks truly means.

Fallout may be about what happens in the wake of a nuclear attack — but it’s novel’s focus on the human aspect of the consequences that paint a truly chilling picture. By the end of the novel, these characters face a much longer journey — but it’s the dark, cold, stripped down days below ground that really show just how primal people really are given the circumstances.

History and human nature alike are explored within this chilling “what if” saga … Fallout is in stores now.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Fallout by Todd Strasser

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  1. I found this book unsettling, to be sure. Strasser has many middle school fans but the gritty violence and sexual aspects made this a true YA title. The conclusion was also somewhat unsatisfying. I understand this was a study of the people in the shelter, but the bigger picture of life afterwards was more compelling to me personally. I’m not sure this title is going to find a teen audience either.

  2. This is a must-read for me. Strasser is such a powerful writer, and this topic in and of itself is irresistible. With him as the storyteller, this is sure to be one incredible experience for readers. Count me in.

  3. I found this novel disturbing and unfulfilling. The violence and the sexual aspects did not seem to go together well for me. I’m not sure this book will find many YA readers and it is inappropriate for middle grade.

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