Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Review: The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

Publication Date: April 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Borrowed from Library

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Fourteen-year-old Charlie 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. 

 I first heard about this book at Dept Con where the author was reading from one of his other novels We Come Apart, which he has co-written with Sarah Crossan. I felt his writing style sounded really interesting and wanted to read more. I was excited to pick this novel up in my local library. 

The novel overall was really enjoyable. I felt it sort of reminiscent of another novel I had read previously, Trash by Andy Mulligan . Although I found The Bombs That Brought Us Together much more enjoyable. The story revolves around our main character Charlie, who lives in the strict rule filled Little Town. One day, a refugee from Old Country called Pav moves into the same apartment block and they immediately strike up a strong friendship which is tested when Old Country troops invade. 

I loved the transportative nature of this novel. I felt fully immersed in the world of Little Town and the intense atmosphere of suspicion and danger was really well written. I really felt as if I was there in the town and could feel the constant underlying dangerous atmosphere which was very interesting to read. 

The characters depicted in the novel were enjoyable but at times I felt they were a little underdeveloped at times. There were not too many characters in the novel, and the few characters in the story definitely helped to develop relationships more but I would have liked for some other characters to have been included in the story- such as Pav's dad. I also felt that Charlies parents could have been better developed as they could have been interesting characters if looked at in a little more depth. At times they read as very two dimensional and it felt as if they were not there at all. 

I enjoyed the antagonist of Big Man. He was a great villain for the novel and I really enjoyed his scenes. He spoke so persuasively and at times I almost felt he had Pav and charlie convinced to join his regime. I also never connected to Erin F, and did not understand Charlie's attraction to her as she read as being very cold and distant to me. I would have enjoyed more backstory to that relationship and more inclusion of it in the novel. 

The pacing of the novel was slow. Even in areas where the plot was beginning to come together and reach a headway, the slow pace remained. I felt the pace should have been picked up in areas, especially as the plot was coming to a twist. Other times the slow plot was enjoyable, allowing the reader to feel almost calm among the constant danger of Little Town. 

I felt the novel left me with many questions and little answers. Although I suppose this is to reflect the nature of Charlies world where there is little trust, clarity and constant confusion. Yet I would have enjoyed more answers for a conclusive ending. Overall and enjoyable, immersive novel. 

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