Shame on me. When I snapped up this read I couldn’t place Brian Conaghan as an author. I shrugged and figured he was an relative unknown or a debut. WRONG! It wasn’t until much later that I realised he had also written ‘When Mr Dog Bites’. Duh!
But maybe it was a good thing that I went into ‘The Bombs That Brought Us Together’ with a clear mind. Nothing else to colour my perspective. Here’s what I thought…
What really worked for me?
Pav – I liked his character a lot. For me, he was the character I clung to most to. Typical that his thread of the story isn’t all rainbows and puppies. Godammit.
The concept – LOVE the concept. And the idea of it is great for drawing parallels to our own history and even the present day situation that certain countries have found themselves in. It’s a strong premise, that’s for sure. Here, lemme give you the blurb, just in case you haven’t come across this book yet:
“Fourteen-year-old Hamish Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever.
Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Hamish is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.
Hamish Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will … But he’s got to kill someone else first.”
Dunno about you, but that teaser leaves me pleased as punch. THAT is a story I want to read.
What didn’t work, so much?
Ay, me. Ok. Let’s go.
Characters – Apart from Pav I just didn’t click with anyone. I never found that kernel of desire to really care about them.
Plot – Slow. Was it just me? It felt slow. As hell. And this was ultimately what made me struggle with this book. I quite liked the writing, though.
Beginning – Confused the frack out of me. Sure, there was a lot going on and there was a lot still to explain. But I ended up pulling strange faces and going back over certain paragraphs because I’d either forget what the sitch was, or I’d be too confuddled and have to go back to try and work it out.
Ultimately, I think this is a case of “not for me”. I can easily see how many people will enjoy this book, but it’s not a good fit for me. Stylistically and emotionally. Still, I’m interested to read the book Conaghan is co-authoring with Sarah Crossan (yep, that’s Carnegie Medal winner, Sarah Crossan, the one and the same). ‘We Come Apart’ is scheduled for release in 2017 by Bloomsbury and I’m very intrigued indeed.
Anyway! I ended up giving this book a 3.5. But now I’ve thought about it some more, I’m rounding it down (soz) to a solid 3. A hardy read, just not for me.