Review: Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

bombBomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon
Author: Steve Sheinkin
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Age Group: MG/Teen
Source: Library
Good Reads     |     Amazon
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world’s most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

Bomb is a 2012 National Book Awards finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Bomb is a 2012 Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year title.

Bomb is a 2013 Newbery Honor book.

My Thoughts

Wow.  Just wow.  Okay, so I majored in history at undergrad.  I know I might be more likely to enjoy such a book as Bomb, but holy cow, I think almost anyone could enjoy this.  This book totally deserves all the awards it won this year!  I have read, and raved about Sheinkin’s book The Notorious Benedict Arnold before on this blog.  So I knew that I wanted to read this one when it was released last year.  But it took me a little while to get to it.  Finally I started it, and can I just say again – wow!

I’m going to try something new here.  I’m just going to list the many things I loved about this book.

  1. Sheinkin’s ability to tell a story.  Sure this is history.  He has to tell what happened, regardless of how well it works as a story.  But somehow he still made this feel like a novel.  Only, knowing that all this happened makes it that much more amazing.
  2. Sheinkin’s handling of the many different characters involved in this story.  There are a lot of people, many with Russian names, but somehow he is able to help the reader keep track of all these different people.
  3. Sheinkin’s ability to make this story suspenseful, even though we know what happened.  The whole lead up to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was totally suspenseful, even though I obviously know that it happened.
  4. Sheinkin’s BRILLIANT ending.  I absolutely loved how in the last few paragraphs he shows that these events that happened over fifty years ago affect us today.  Even though WWII and the Cold War are over, atomic bombs are still around, and that they could cause total devastation!
  5. How Sheinkin makes this about the people.  Of course it is about the whole building (and stealing by the Soviets) of the atomic bomb, but he let’s us connect with these different characters.  He helps us understand why these people made the decisions they did.  And even if we don’t agree with them, we can understand where they were coming from.
  6. How Sheinkin made the physics part understandable, especially for someone who doesn’t know two cents worth of physics
  7. How the Allies tried to prevent Germany from creating an Atomic Bomb – especially all the work they put into destroying the heavy water plant in Norway.
  8. The whole Soviet Spy thing!  I mean, oh my gosh, you guys, the Soviets conspired to steal how to make an atomic bomb from us!  I loved reading how they did this, especially the part about the tissue box!  If you read this, you will know what I’m talking about!

Basically what I am saying is that I loved EVERYTHING about this book.  It is exactly what a non-fiction book should be like.  Well researched AND well written.  I booktalked Bomb so much at work, that a coworker took it home, read it, loved it, and now how Sheinkin’s other book The Notorious Benedict Arnold at home.  It’s that freaking awesome.

About Quinn

I'm a twenty-something children's librarian at a public library in Central New York. I've long left my teen years behind me, but I love to read YA and children's books. I have two adorable dogs. Ginger is a mix between a poodle and havanese, and Daphne is Bichon Frise. Other things I love: Favorite Movie: Singing in the Rain Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Favorite TV Show: Monk
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6 Responses to Review: Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

  1. I majored in history as an undergrad too and thought this one looked like an awesome read. Glad to see you liked it!

  2. Lauren says:

    I really wanted to read this after the Youth Media Awards, and I just haven’t had time yet. But I’m so thrilled to hear that you loved it! I am clueless about physics, but I find it fascinating, so it’s great that Sheinkin can make this so approachable. Looking forward to the suspense, and to the ending. Fabulous review!

  3. Awesome! I’m a huge history buff. I haven’t read MG/YA non-fiction in a long time. I should. Sometimes it’s more enjoyable than adult history books because the writing is more approachable.

  4. I would love to get this on the shelves at the libraries where I work! (And read it myself.)

  5. RKovacs says:

    There is also a literature unit based on this book for teachers. It is geared toward high school English or social studies classes and is based on Common Core standards. It can be found at Curriculum Aids or on Amazon.

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