The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
|The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: This book is dark even for Kevin Brooks. The diary of an abducted boy, it is a powerful and shocking read. We loved it but it's not for the faint hearted.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: March 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Linus is taken from the streets simply for having done a good turn. While patrolling his usual haunt at Liverpool Street station - there are often good pickings for the homeless there - he offers to help a blind man loading a van. He wakes up feeling dreadful with vague memories of a pad soaked in anaesthetic held over his mouth and nose. It appears he's in some kind of underground bunker. A lift is the only way in and out. At first, Linus thinks he has been kidnapped for ransom - this particular street kid has a rich and famous father. But then the lift opens and a young girl appears, having been similarly drugged. Over the next few days, four more people arrive.
Will the six find a way to escape? Will the authorities find them and effect a rescue? Or will their captor eventually release them? What does he want?
Most of you reading this review will be aware that Kevin Brooks does not write lighthearted novels. We don't love him for leaving us uplifted. Those of you not familiar with his books should understand that Bunker Diary is a very disturbing read. Very. Very very very. And even those who are familiar should understand that even the Brooks black humour is missing here. Instead, as we read Linus's captive diary, we explore how it is to be confined, powerless and entirely ignorant of what is to come. It's really rather frightening.
The characters are well chosen - by Brooks himself or the book's captor, take your pick. There is Linus himself, a mixed up teenager, Jenny, a bright and articulate but very young child, Fred, a tough heroin addict, Russell, a black, gay, genius academic and Anya and Bird, two middle class business types. Of course, there are tensions, and the six walk a knife edge between outright conflict and comradeship in a shared plight.
The Man Upstairs, as the six call their captor, doesn't show himself. But he does, sometimes, respond to notes left in the lift. He also punishes anything he regards as bad behaviour. And he knows what's going on because each room in the bunker is bugged.
How would you deal with this situation? Would you try to escape? Would you be compliant, and trust in some deus ex machina to save you? Would you just give up? I simply can't imagine what I would do and I found Linus's diary utterly compelling. It's a real page-turner, this book, but perhaps not with quite the same meaning you'd usually have when you use that term.
I am big, big fan of Kevin Brooks and I am a big, big fan of this book. It wouldn't be right to say I enjoyed it. I don't think anyone will be able to say they enjoyed reading The Bunker Diary but I defy anyone to read it and not feel profoundly affected. And that's why I'm a fan.
Hostage Three by Nick Lake is a very different, but equally powerful, story written from the point of view of a hostage.
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