Narrator: Jeff Cummings
Published by Brilliance Audio on 10 September 2013
Genres: Historical, Middle Grade
Length: 4 hours 53 minutes
Place(s) Traveled To: Hudson Bay, New York (1962)
First Line(s): I wake to a hand on my shoulder. Dad’s voice is urgent. “Get up, Scott!”
I have been reading several middle grade novels that seem to defy my expectation on what middle grade should be. I usually expect the stories to be less intense and less serious than a young adult or adult story. However, recent middle grade reads has proven me wrong in this the latest of which, Fallout by Todd Strasser is a crazy roller coaster ride of emotion and what ifs. Fallout is told in a non-linear format in which each chapter moves from the present (1962) and the near past – the summer before the main events in the story. The story hinges around Scott and the bomb shelter that his father builds in the backyard. A thing that all the neighbors scoff at until there comes a day when a bomb does drop on their town.
What follows is this crazy, fast-paced story that will leave a reader a bit breathless. While the jumps to the near past do break up the story sometimes they are a needed break from the events and emotions that are going on in the bomb shelter. As the night that the bomb fell several neighbors beat and bullied Scott’s father into letting them inside. Its tense in the shelter as it was built and stocked for 4 people and now there are almost a dozen. Including the horrible, douchbag Mr McGovern who I spent the entire book just wanting to punch him in the face. A more self-entitled, self-rightous, and just all out selfish person I’ve never encountered before.
Along with a decent story what made this book was the narrator, Jeff Cummings, who does an excellent job in bringing this story to life. While some of the voices would sometimes blend together Cummings always infused just the right amount of emotion into any given scene. Cummings helped make the scenes just a bit more tense and helps bring the listener right there into the bunker with all the other characters. Cummings is one of those narrators that I will not mind listening to in other stories in the future.
Where Fallout kind of lost me was in its ending which was a bit too open ended for my liking. Yes, there is a device I normally don’t mind in a story as I do like to think about where I would like a story to go. Fallout is just one of those stories where I would have liked to have seen just a little bit more for Strasser to go just a little bit farther in the telling of what happened next. Although the way this story ends does lend itself to the potential of a sequel so maybe there will be one at some unknown point down the line. If there is, then you can be sure that this reader will be checking it out.