Z is for Zugzwang

Z is for Zugzwang.

It is the last day of the A to Z Challenge! You, my readers, have survived! Yay, you!

So, zugzwang. I borrowed a chess term for today’s category of

novels for young adults.

Zugzwang describes a situation in which one must take one’s turn even if it is to one’s disadvantage. It also means to force someone else into that situation. Zugzwang so perfectly sums up what authors do to their characters, and that is particularly true of today’s two novels for young adults.

Z for Zachariah

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien

Sixteen-year-old Ann Burden (prophetic name, anyone?) believes she is the lone survivor of a nuclear war. Everyone she knows and loves is dead. She has created a life for herself in a valley and has lived there for a year. But one day she sees a campfire and realizes she is not alone. What if this other person is not to be trusted? This Edgar Award winner is about isolation and hard choices. You may know O’Brien’s work from his children’s novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, a beautiful Newbery Medal novel about kindness and generosity.

Zac and Mia

Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts

Two teens meet on a leukemia cancer ward. One of them is optimistic and sunny–Zac. The other is angry and despairing–Mia. Together they challenge each other to face an unknown future. Some critics have compared Zac and Mia to The Fault in Our Stars, but the relationship between Zac and Mia is more friendship-based than romantic. Other readers even feel Zac and Mia are almost spin-off characters of Isaac and Monica from The Fault in Our Stars. It might be interesting to do a reading comparison of these two books.

From nuclear fall-out to life-threatening cancer, I’d say today’s authors have presented their characters with ordeals of zugzwang proportions.

Have you ever heard the word zugzwang before? Do you have a favorite character facing zugzwang?

Thank you, readers, for joining me on this A to Z journey! I hope you have enjoyed the ride and perhaps found a new book or two to try.


Comments

Z is for Zugzwang — 13 Comments

    • I’d never heard the word before either. Probably chess enthusiasts know it though. Thanks for letting me know I was unique in using that word. It was a fun one!

  1. Dennis Potter is quoted “The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they’ve been in.”

    Zugswang is one of those words that is difficult to get out of a mouth but I think I might give it a try!

    • What a great quote! And so true…I haven’t yet tried to say zugzwang out loud. Just have to figure out a way to work it into the conversation.

  2. I really enjoyed your recommendations this month, even if it did add to my already towering TBR. I nominate you for the Mystery Blogger award. I was nominated, and one of the qualifications is to nominate others. You don’t have to accept if you don’t want to, but it was fun to do. You can read about it on my blog.
    Doree Weller

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the recommendations. Sorry about the towering TBR. I know your pain on that one. Thanks for the nomination!

    • Ah, don’t despair. I hadn’t heard of these titles, either, until I started planning and researching for the A to Z Challenge. I do think these looks like good reads, though.

    • Ah, don’t despair. I hadn’t heard of these titles, either, until I started planning and researching for the A to Z Challenge. I do think these looks like good reads, though.

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