Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks **Review**

The Bunker Diary
Series: None
Pages: 272
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release date: 7th March 2013
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
Room meets Lord of the Flies, The Bunker Diary is award-winning, young adult writer Kevin Brooks's pulse-pounding exploration of what happens when your worst nightmare comes true - and how will you survive?

I can't believe I fell for it.

It was still dark when I woke up this morning.

As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was.

A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete.

There are six little rooms along the main corridor.

There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out.

What's he going to do to me?

What am I going to do?

If I'm right, the lift will come down in five minutes.

It did. Only this time it wasn't empty . . .

This is a book that had been on the edges of my periphery vision since it was released a year ago, but for some reason, until now, it hadn't come any further into view. I don't know whether that's because I'd not really heard too much about Kevin Brooks's writing before now, or whether it's because the book seemed like it was quite serious and hard-hitting, and I wasn't in the mood for that at the time, but either way, it wasn't until last week that it really came into full view.
In the end, I picked the book up because someone I've been working with at Penguin (I'm on work experience with the editorial team) had just finished reading it and said it was very dark and disturbing but well written. Having now read it myself, I feel that I can totally agree with what she said.

I was talking to a friend about this book, and I described it as 'Big Brother playing the Sims. He's put the characters in the swimming pool and taken away the ladders, so he can watch them drown' – this sums up the book pretty well, I feel, as well as the synopsis being quite correct in saying that it is fairly similar to the fantastic Room by Emma Donoghue (read it, if you haven't already. Awesome book).
But there are a few distinct differences between this and Room. The first being the atmosphere. Yes, Room is a very disturbing book too, but it contains one thing that this story does not – hope. The atmosphere of this book is quite pessimistic. But that's not to say it's a necessarily depressing read. As odd as it may sound, I still found myself laughing in a few places, from something the protagonist and writer of the diary entries observed, or at an exchange between him and one of the other characters (most likely Fred or Russell). And a couple of the characters even provoked a smile or two.
So it's safe to say that the characters felt real to me – I engaged and empathised with them. And, as a result, I found myself becoming very emotional every time something happened to them. It provoked some very strong feelings, and left me with a lot to think about.

I feel the need to say something about how this book is written. Obviously, with a title like The Bunker Diary, it's an epistolary novel (written in a diary form), which was a good choice for the story, but sometimes I felt as though some details from the story were a little vague, or missing altogether. I can't pin down an exact moment when I felt like this, though. It's just a feeling that I didn't get the entire picture.
But at the same time, the diary allows the reader to get into Linus's head – at least, with the thoughts that he allows us to see.
There are other things about the way the book is written that makes it fantastic to read, and such a powerful story. The way Linus refers to the man who abducted him and the other five people in the bunker says so much about how the characters think about him, and his role in the story, and some choice scenes were written in such a way that you're totally transported into Linus's mind. I shan't say any more than that though, for fear of taking away from the shock factor that goes hand-in-hand with this story.

I really enjoyed The Bunker Diary. Yes, it's a very disturbing, dark and twisted book, but it's particularly well-written and the characters are believable and easy to connect with, despite their obvious flaws.
This is, however, a difficult book to recommend.
If you enjoy books with dark topics, twisted characters and disturbing plots, all tied together in a subtle but powerful package, then this book is definitely for you.
But I would recommend it to anyone interested in compelling YA fiction that has a strong point to make and gives you something to think about, but maybe make sure that you have a light-hearted, fun read to follow it up with.


Sherwin said...

Sounds like an amazing book! I cant wait to read it :)

Thanks for persuading me!

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