Near the end of World War II, scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico, are working on a project that will alter the fate of the world. Thirteen-year-old Stephen Orr is living at a top secret military base with his father who is a leading physicist building the atomic bomb. Stephen realizes the dangers involved when one of the scientists becomes hospitalized as a result of working with the project. The scientist alerts him to disasters that could come from The Gadget. Stephen feels it is up to him and his friend Tilanov
to find the answers that lie behind this veil of secrecy.It’s 1945, and 13-year-old Stephen has just reached the gates of the top secret military base in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He has come to join his father, a famous physicist who is working on a covert project for the Allies. Though his father is forbidden to discuss the project in any detail, Stephen can tell by his haunted eyes and shaking hands how worried he and the other scientists are. After a few weeks, Stephen finds that he cannot control his insatiable curiosity. Enlisting the help of his new friend Tilanov, Stephen devises a plan to discover the true nature of “the gadget.” But when he finally learns what it is, he also realizes another startling truth–that he has trusted the wrong person with the information and not only his life, but the lives of all Americans, could be in terrible danger.
The greatest strength of The Gadget is how Paul Zindel communicates, in clear and simple prose, how terribly uncertain many of those “in the know” were about dropping the atom bomb, and the idea that no one–not even top scientists–could really predict what the outcome would be. By combining this disconcerting notion with a rapid-fire plot and an Everyman teen protagonist, young adult veteran author Zindel has created a historical fiction that reads like a thrilling action-adventure pulp novel, except, (and this is the best part)–it’s all true. Curious readers will also find a World War II chronology, bibliography, and short bios of prominent figures involved in the making of the atom bomb. (Ages 11 to 14) –Jennifer Hubert
2 thoughts on “The Gadget”
Reasonably balanced — which is saying a lot these days. Political correctness has invaded children’s literature in a big way. If you have any doubts about that, peruse the “new books” shelf in the juvenile section of your local library.
Gadget Review by Evan I found this book a very interesting book. I liked how the author started off the story in London, showing the attack and all the information to get you caught up. Then when he moves the story to the military base in New Mexico, I found it easy to tell what was going on in the base, it was very descriptive. The author also made you wait a while until you found out what kind of project Stephens father was working on. Also when you meet Alexei you don’t think anything is going on, just that he is an ordinary kid. So I like how he kind of hid things from you until he felt like he would let you know.Also when he tells the historical events that are happening outside of the story it gave me a better sense of what time it was. And when you find out what the “Gadget” is you understand why the man in the hospital gave Stephen the sunglasses. Also, the author gave all the attacks on Japan and how effective the gadget was, which showed how many people were killed by only 4 men. The author also used foreshadowing when the maid told Stephen she thought Alexei was a spy, and he ended up trying to kill Stephen because he found out he was a spy. You also learn about the relationship the Stephen didn’t have with his father so he found other people in the base that he could love.He also she shows how the war was affecting everybody all over the world, even when the war was only going on between 3 countries. Over all I would recommend this book to people who like a good suspense or historical story. Go read this book and right a review.