Z for Zachariah is a science-fiction novel that tells the story of Ann Burden, a sixteen year old who seems to be the only person to have survived a nuclear war. Ann believes that she is the only person alive, not only in the United States but on earth.
The novel is written in diary form as Ann deals with isolation and survives alone in Burden Valley, Pennsylvania, where she has lived her whole life. Burden Valley, named after Ann’s family, was spared from the nuclear fallout as it was protected by its own unique weather system. Ann’s family, and their valley neighbors, also survived the nuclear attack but then vanished after leaving the valley to search for survivors. Ann started writing in her diary after her family’s disappearance.
In the diary Ann logs not only her daily experiences but also her feelings of loneliness and isolation. When Cornell-trained scientist John Loomis turns up in the valley, despite being smart and capable herself, it is these feelings of isolation that leave her feeling exposed and susceptible to his antagonistic and despotic character. However, as John becomes crazed and aggressive, Ann steals a radiation safe suit he has created and leaves the valley to search for other survivors:
As I walk, I search the horizon for a trace of green. I am hopeful.