Six young people all keeping secrets from their friends and families - six young lives about to be changed in the worst way possible. Trapped in a building that has been badly damaged by multiple explosions, and with part of the building on fire it seems grim. When they learn that the bomber has been caught it is not the good news they needed, the bomber was not working alone, and according to the news reports on the radio the bomber has a partner who is still in the school. Trying to escape is hard enough, but when suspicions grow about who the bombers partner could be tension turns to accusations and threats.
Books like Time bomb run the risk of becoming purely didactic and artificial, the author preaching at their audience rather than connecting the reader with a story that needs to be told. Some authors tackle these topics with amazing skill and insight - to the point that you don't even realise there is a message - while others are like a sledge hammer nailing home their message with little finesse or skill. Time bomb falls somewhere in between these two extremes, as while Charbonneau does build her characters, keeps the tension high, and generally makes an effort to make the characters and their stories relatable it just lacks a spark - though for me this could be mainly because I guessed who the bomber was very early and it then felt a little like she was going through the motions.
Do I think this was a book that needed to be written - yes. Does it provide valuable insight into the pressures teenagers face at school and in their lives in general - yes. Do I think this book might have benefitted from one more draft - yes, just to tie the story more tightly together and make it more about the characters rather than the bombing. Don't get me wrong, this was a good book, but I think with a little more polish it could have been a great book or even an amazing book.
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Reviewed by Brilla