Review: Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston


BlackHelicoptersBlack Helicopters by Blythe Woolston (Candlewick Press, 2013)

Blurb: I’m Valkyrie White. I’m fifteen. Your government killed my family.

Ever since Mabby died while picking beans in their garden — with the pock-a-pock of a helicopter overhead — four-year-old Valley knows what her job is: hide in the underground den with her brother, Bo, while Da is working, because Those People will kill them like coyotes. But now, with Da unexpectedly gone and no home to return to, a teenage Valley (now Valkyrie) and her big brother must bring their message to the outside world — a not-so-smart place where little boys wear their names on their backpacks and young men don’t pat down strangers before offering a lift. Blythe Woolston infuses her white-knuckle narrative, set in a day-after-tomorrow Montana, with a dark, trenchant humor and a keen psychological eye. Alternating past-present vignettes in prose as tightly wound as the springs of a clock and as masterfully plotted as a game of chess, she ratchets up the pacing right to the final, explosive end.

It’s short, but it packs a huge, huge punch.

This is the story of Valkyrie–Valley–who is raised by her father in the woods of Montana, who is taught to be extremely suspicious of Those People (i.e., the general population) and paranoid about The Government. The story is told via flashbacks from the present to the past.

It’s a fascinating read, not least because Valley is shaped into what she is in a way that is utterly secular–her father teaches her and her brother Bo to be survivalists and true believers in the Government-controlled Black Helicopters, but they are not fundamentalists. Valley comes across as smart, level-headed, and honest–and utterly, utterly brainwashed.

My rating: 5 stars


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