Year of the Bomb

by Ronald Kidd
ages: 10+
First sentence: “There were Martians in the backyard.”
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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It’s 1955. It’s the middle of the Cold War. There are frightening things all around, from the threat of nuclear war, to McCarthy’s Communist hunting, to the monsters in the movies.

And in Sierra Madre, California, Paul and his friends — Arnie, Crank and Oz — are in the thick of it all. Especially when the filming of the greatest B movie of them all — Invasion of the Body Snatchers — comes to their hometown. Being movie buffs, they are drawn to the set, which, in turn, opens up a whole can of worms: espionage, scientists, blacklisting, movie magic. You name it, it’s probably in there.

This book is wild and fun. It feels like a B movie: a bit cheezy, a bit over-the-top, but in the end, quite lovable. Kidd’s writing style flows — even if sometimes the narrative time line gets a little bit fuzzy, flipping between movies, real time and flashbacks — and Paul is a winner of a character. He’s concerned about his friends, he wants everyone to get along, and yet he’s not willing to give in to all the conspiracy theories and fear that are all around him.

There’s nothing really deep or life-changing about the book. It’s mostly just fun times and monster movies. Which is really just fine.

(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)

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