The Year of the Bomb

The Year of the Bomb

Horror movies and McCarthyism (1955 Hollywood, California)

  • Junior Library Guild selection

The year is 1955, and there’s nothing that Paul and his best friends Oz, Arnie, and Crank love more than horror movies. So when Invasion of the Body Snatchers starts filming in their small California town, they couldn’t be more excited. But when their acquaintance with Laura and Darryl, extras in the movie, leads to what may be an atomic spy, Paul is afraid they’re in too deep. It's not a horror movie anymore—this is real life.

This coming-of-age tale is about taking a stand, following the crowd, and navigating the gray areas in between.

“Ever so aptly billed ‘Stand by Me meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers,’ this multilayered historical novel features a quartet of quarrelsome—but loyal in the crunch—13-year-olds responding to the anxieties of the McCarthy-era Cold War.... Kidd folds in good measures of comic relief and period detail, separates fiction from fact in an afterword and lets his characters develop in credible ways. He also gives... plenty of food for thought about the hazards of rushing to judgment, of taking people at face value and, most profoundly, of living in a pervasive climate of fear—all decidedly relevant topics for today’s readers to mull.”

Kirkus Reviews

Readers “will learn a lot about the era, and the details about the horror and science-fiction genres and the movie industry are stellar. Expect questions about spies and bombs, and circulation of 1950s horror flicks to skyrocket.”

School Library Journal

“Ronald Kidd skillfully uses 1950s horror films to set the scene for a novel in which nothing is quite what it seems and anyone can become an enemy at any time. Exploiting the proximity between Sierra Madre, California, where the B-movie classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers was filmed, and physicist Richard Feynman's home in Altadena, California, Kidd interweaves Hollywood lore and Cold War terror into an effective and bittersweet coming-of-age tale.”

Junior Library Guild