Countdown by Deborah Wiles is an engaging book, although finding an overarching conflict proves tricky. Plenty of micro-tension in subplots supplies the book with oomph to the end, but the main characters goal-to-be-achieved is a bit fuzzy. Survival itself seems too nebulous a goal for this tale. Still, this first of three in The Sixties trilogy from Scholastic proves an enlightening read.
The book style has been dubbed a documentary novel, and at first felt cumbersome and unnecessarymore of a curiosity than a central component. Perhaps this stems from the newness of the approach. As the book continues, the reader discovers that the documents exemplify the tumultuousness of the 60s. Song lyrics, news releases, propaganda, photographs, quotes, speeches and political cartoons explore the world swirling around Franny and help explain the panic felt during an already uncertain time. In fact, the primary sources lend a distinctive flavor to this book and its unique, little-discussed time period; it brings Frannys world into ours. Wiles also weaves in fascinating details of Americana from this time: the Wonderful World of Disney, 45s (records), the relatively new arrival of McDonalds and others.
Informative, entertaining and believable reading.