Featured Review: The Incredible True Story of the Making of the Eve of Destruction (Amy Brashear)
About This Book:
Arkansas, 1984: The town of Griffin Flat is known for almost nothing other than its nuclear missile silos. MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction—is a fear every local lives with and tries to ignore. Unfortunately that’s impossible now that film moguls have picked Griffin Flat as the location for a new nuclear holocaust movie, aptly titled The Eve of Destruction.
When sixteen-year-old Laura Ratliff wins a walk-on role (with a plus-one!) thanks to a radio call-in contest, she is more relieved than excited. Mingling with Hollywood stars on the set of a phony nuclear war is a perfect distraction from being the only child in her real nuclear family—which has also been annihilated. Her parents are divorced. Her mother has recently married one of the only African-American men in town. Her father, an officer in the Strategic Air Command, is absent…except when he phones at odd hours to hint at an impending catastrophe. But isn’t that his job?
Laura’s only real friend is her new stepbrother, Terrence. She picks him as her plus-one and manages to enrage both her fair-weather friends and film crew. (Now the script has to adjust for “another black.”) But that adjustment is nothing compared to what happens on set after the scripted nuclear explosion. Because nobody seems to know if a real nuclear bomb has detonated or not.
*Review Contributed By Kristie Lowry Staff Reviewer*
It's 1984 and Laura Ratliff is a high school student with issues beyond a typical sixteen-year-old. Her mom and her mom's new husband have been the talk of the town thanks to their VERY public extra-marital affair--compounded by the fact that the new husband is one of the few black people in town, and Laura's mom is white. Plus, the town is located in Arkansas. Laura's dad is in the Air Force and works for the Strategic Air Command, and he works in some way on the nuclear bomb. When the affair becomes common knowledge, he retreats to the nearby base, and his communications with Laura are infrequent and disturbingly cryptic.
The Incredible True Story of the Making of the Eve of Destruction by Amy Brashear focuses on the moment in time when a movie about a nuclear detonation is being filmed in Laura's hometown, and she has won a spot in the movie--along with her step-brother, Terrence (her choice for her plus-one). As a bonus, Laura is desperately, frantically, openly terrified of nuclear warfare at a time when it is everywhere. The 80s were the time of the Cold War, and nuclear war was presented by many as a constant threat. The Incredible True Story of the Making of the Eve of Destruction picks up on the stress associated with those times as it relates to lack of trust in elected officials, wondering about the impact (so to speak) of The Bomb, and the cultural elements of the time.
The main character, Laura, is fun, funny, interesting, and smart. She's everything I want in a female protagonist, and she is definitely the star of this show. Her closest friends are fascinating without having her depth, and her family members add some good elements to the overall story without ever feeling real.
The first 3/4 of The Incredible True Story of the Making of the Eve of Destruction is great. I loved Laura, and I felt some connection to her friends and family. The premise was terrific, and the historical aspect--the time when I, too, was a high school student--was awesome. The last bit of the book didn't live up to the first; it felt rushed, it was surreal, and I kept waiting for the revelation of a dream sequence (that was big in the 80s!) to help it all make some sort of bizarre sense. None of that came to fruition, and I admit that I didn't love the ending. That said, the majority of the book is great, and I would definitely recommend it. It's the rare book that I would love to see made into a movie
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.