Title: Black Helicopters
Author: Blythe Woolston
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub Date: 03/26/13
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This book blew me away. I finished it in one morning, eagerly flipping pages to discover the twisted life of Valley White. In a remote Montana cabin, Valley grows up to learn her father’s survival skills and distrust of society and the government, which he refers to as Those People, who will come and kill them “like coyotes” with their sinister black helicopters if they aren’t careful. The story of Valley and her brother Bo is told in chapters that switch between explaining their upbringing and describing the present day, when Valley has a bomb strapped to her chest and is out looking for revenge. This story was frightening in a subversive way, because the perspective and context were so well crafted that I could understand why a young girl might believe in black helicopters and go out to bomb innocent people. Not a whole lot is explained, which allows the reader to feel the confusion and distrust that Valley is acting upon. This is a quick, breathless read that transports you into the mind of a terrorist whose actions are justified in her mind.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book is memorable because of its original premise, seamless characterization and fleshed-out perspective. It truly immerses the reader into the world of hard-core conspiracy theorists and the thought process that Valley develops to understand the world. I have never seen another YA book, or any fiction book for that matter, that explores this topic, which Woolston skillfully exposes from the inside.
Cover: The cover is fairly plain and vague. It could really be about anything, which doesn’t quite do the book justice.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Valley White grew up under the careful instruction of her conspiracy theorist father and she will do anything to avenge his death - including setting off the bomb strapped to her chest.
tags: suicide bomber / mystery / thriller / conspiracy theory / BFYA nominee / ya lit