Saturday, April 7, 2018

Time bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

Six young lives are about to change for ever, wrenched apart and shaken by multiple explosions in their high school.  Each of them has a reason to be at school, and each of them is keeping secrets or keeping part of themselves hidden.  Rashid is a young man struggling with his identity, struggling to find a balance between practicing his faith and fitting in with his "American" classmates.  Cas is struggling to fit into her new school, pressure from her family to lose weight, be more sociable, be more popular is more than she can stand.  Frankie and Tad are struggling with a relationship that has changed and yet not changed, heading towards a line that one of them might not be ready to cross.  Diana is tired of being the perfect politicians daughter, always pushing her own thoughts and feelings aside to make her father look good.  Recently orphaned by the death of his mother, Z is failing out of school and about to lose his home, but he has a plan.

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.

If you like this book then try:
  • NEED by Joelle Charbonneau
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • What waits in the woods by Kieran Scott
  • Burning blue by Paul Griffin
  • The Christopher killer by Alane Ferguson
  • Missing Judy by Anne Cassidy
  • Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
  • Hate list by Jennifer Brown
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher
  • I swear by Lane Davis
  • The mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
  • Thousand words by Jennifer Brown

Reviewed by Brilla

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