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Quick Pick: Fallout by Todd Strasser

Todd Strasser’s Fallout: a Hard-Hitting Alternative History for High Schoolers

By Hannah Carmack, Creative Content Coordinator

Fallout book cover

Where do readers go when they age out of Lauren Tarshis’s amazing I Survived series? How about underground? Todd Strasser’s Fallout is a groovy YA novel about a heart-stopping ‘what if.’

Logline: What if the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in nuclear warfare? What if you were trapped in a bunker for two weeks with complete strangers and limited resources? Who decides who lives and who dies? The year is 1960 and while young Scott and his friends are busy stealing cheesecake from their neighbors, America and Russia are preparing for an all-out nuclear war. One night, this war becomes reality. A hydrogen bomb is dropped on small town America, and Scott’s family is the only one on the street with a bunker. Chaos ensues.

Although Fallout has a similar premise to I Survived, the content is significantly more mature due to grotesque imagery and the scariness of nuclear wipeout. I’d recommend this for middle school and high school students who loved I Survived as  young readers and are looking to level up.

I don’t want to give away too much, but the details in Fallout are vivid and bone-chilling. Strasser does not shy away from the gross-out factor of living underground for two weeks. The characters are also well fleshed out. The bunker is packed, but at no point do any characters get shoved to the margins.

This book might be great non-required reading for students if you’re covering events like the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. relations with North Korea, or STEM concepts like economic scarcity, impact of radiation on human health, disaster preparedness, and engineering.

If you’re looking for a survival story with a strong bite, Todd Strasser’s Fallout will not disappoint.