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4.6 out of 5 stars51
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 20 May 2004
Wow, was having a chat with my mate at work, and he raised the subject of Nuclear War as a movie/novel genre - and I rememebered vividly this hideous, taumatic novel, that I first read aged 12 back in 1990 or so... Couldn't beleive at the time that a 'children's' book could be so searching and direct in it's study into the nature of fear as we lived under the shadow of the bomb, until so recently... Deals effectively with the shock and aftermath - the only issue I had with it was the bizzarre plausibility of mutation occurring within such a short space of time. A wonderful concept, for sure, but a little 'fantastic' considering this stark novel plays so much of its power in the realism stakes. Great memory though - read it and be shaken - suits any age over, I'd say, 11.
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on 11 December 2006
This is the book of all books.

I first read the book at eleven years of age after it was recommended to me by my teacher. At times it is a little harrowing but the text is fast paced and the sadness quickly makes way for the excitment of the 'brave new world'.

I have read this book almost every year since - and now I am the teacher reading it to my class.

Because of a few instances of bad language and a few incidents that I believe are a little upsetting (that said, the children are exposed to far worse on TV and are completely unaffected,) I have an edited copy of my own - worn and battered - that I read to the children. They love the brown pages - an original print from 1985! .

The book is divided into three parts, the first at the time of the nuclear attack, the second eighteen or so years later, and the last, a generation after that. Each characater in the book is linked to another, though they do not know this.

The text is compelling and gripping like no other book I have read.I still cry at the end when it is made clear how events are linked!

Read it.
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on 10 July 2012
When I was younger I was obsessed by a fear about nuclear war and how we would survive if it happened. The Chernobyl disaster had happened and I remember everyone in the playground screaming at the sight of rainclouds in the sky - because we were all under the vague notion that a mushroom cloud of poisonous gas would kill everyone.

But we were lucky, we lived in Ireland many thousands of miles away. To this day, I know of families in Ireland who take in children and adults who's lives and health and community were destroyed by that atrocity.

I just wanted you to get a glimpse into why I wanted to read books about nuclear holocaust. I guess it is because fear of the unknown is awful and I needed to research as much as I could. And of all the books I read, Children of the Dust was one of the most imaginitive and well written.

In the book (which is broken into 3 parts) the author portrays the fear that is felt before the nuclear strike, how people attempt to protect themselves from the fallout afterward, and the mundaneness that sets in once safe (for now), closeted in one room with the whole family, waiting to find out 'what's next? what happen's now? when will we be able to come out?'. So scary. While the family ekes survival in the home, the husband, who is a scientist, ends up sealed in with the brains of society under a mountain. He has to deal with the angst of wondering how his family are with no way of contacting them, while at the same time coming up with strategies to overcome problems that were not foreseen when the massive nuclear bomb shelter was constructed like: ratio of females to males in continuing the species!

The last part of the story is about a girl who was born and raised in the shelter. And of course, she is curious about what lies outside...

Such a great book, I read it as a ten year old but now my fourteen year old is reading it. I would read it now as an adult, but I'm too scared!
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on 1 November 2010
This book is separated into three parts, each from a different viewpoint, starting at the moment of a nuclear attack and jumping forward a generation for each consecutive part.
Having read all the reviews, I would like to "bring together" the different comments, if I may.
It is generally agreed that the first chapter is the best and probably the most harrowing of the three in this book. Certainly adults, reading this book for the first time, seem to think so. I know more than one who was unable to finish it, preferring to imagine that there could be a "Happy ending".
In criticism of the book, people have commented on it's simplicity of style, it's lack of continuity and, to a much lesser extent, the lack of character depth. With regard to it's simplicity, I would point out that this book is aimed at a younger reader. Don't let this put you off though. Although it is not elaborate, it is eloquent and the story is all the more chilling for it's straight forward approach. The reader who complained about the lack of continuity would have done better to continue reading. The three parts of the story do merge and compliment each other, if the reader has the patience to follow through. Books are rarely about instant gratification. The person who commented that the characters are somewhat lacking in depth did justify that lack, being due to the nature of the book as a children's novel. I agree with that comment, since novels for children tend to be short it can be difficult for an author to delve deeply into character background, especially when the novel is split, as this one is. While it might be nice to have more character depth, I don't think this is a substantial enough problem to put anybody off reading this.
One final comment which I must also agree with was the poster who mentioned the genetic mutation covered in the third story. I do think that it is highly unlikely that the human genome would completely evolve into a stable state in a matter of two or three generations. However, unlikely doesn't mean impossible and I wouldn't let that stop you from reading what is, in essence, a very good book.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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on 1 August 2008
The first time I read this it was in my English class in school and I was not looking forward to it when my teacher informed me that we would be reading a science fiction novel. But, once we started reading it I found it thoroughly interesting and set my mind racing with what if questions??? But also, unfortunately we never finished it in school and I forgot about it for a while!

Then I was browsing a book store one day and saw it. I bought it, went home and started to read it instantly and I could not put it down. I found it to be very cleverly structured in the way that the three sections connected that also highlighted the evolution in a very subtle way. It was a truly moving read and I would read it again, and I'm sure I would cry al over again with this great story!
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on 3 February 2006
this book is one of the best books ive ever read even though im only 13 i really enjoyed everything about it the part where the courage of veronica struggling to keep her family alive in the atomic holicoust the story is so life like and realistic i liked everything about the book even the parts that were despair and sadness it still erged me to read on the book was recomened by my teacher who thinks i have a future in writing and i belive this book has open my eyes and made me relise that this is the writing i want to do this auther is the best i have known and i hope she keeps writing coz her book is so inspiring i have recomending to absolutly everyone i know and a lot of it made me cry so thank-you louise you are an inspiration to us all
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on 4 February 2003
This story follows the lives of three generations of girls and their survival during and after a nuclear war. We are taken on a beautifully descriptive journey where potentially terrifying issues and very real questions are dealt with candidly but with an underlying warmth. This story is gripping and evocative without sentimentalism and will leave the reader with heartfelt feelings of strength, empowerment and true triumph over adversity.
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on 7 May 2001
I found this book hidden in the library stacks when I was a kid, and since then I've read it every time I've found it. I eventually had to order it from the UK since it's out of print here in the States, but it was worth the postage. The writing is complex enough for adults to enjoy and the characters are easy to relate to. Too bad more of my American friends haven't read this!...
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on 5 November 2009
I read this book as a young teen - my mum read it first to check it wasnt too scary for me! I'm now 35 and this is still one of the best books I've ever read and the story has stayed fresh in my mind. Cant rate it high enough.
I love the way the story splits in two and comes back full circle at the end. If you haven't read this book then definitely get it!
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on 28 February 2002
It all goes wrong. We all thought we were safe under the mutual threat of destroying our 'enemies.' But it did happen. Almost everyone died. But the human race survived. And courage, effort and sacrifice came to the fore. Mankind was altered, and became a mystical species of faith, wonderment, caring and foresight. After the cataclysm of Armageddon, humanity finally grew.
I read this twice at school, once because I had to, once because I wanted to. It touched me like nothing else had before, or indeed since. I wish I could have the integrity of some of the characters in this beautiful book. And so will you. Buy it, read it, give it to a friend. Spread the joy. Peace and Long Life.
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