The last couple of books I’ve read have been sadly lacking in action and have left me worrying that I was about to hit a reading slump, so it was with trepidation that I picked up Bomb.
By the time I’d finished the first chapter, however, I realised that my fears had come to nothing. I don’t put gifs in my reviews, mainly because I haven’t figured out how to, but if I did use gifs, I’d probably use one of Turk from Scrubs doing the Cabbage Patch Dance. Yay! Bomb is a book where something happens.
No, scratch that out. Bomb is a book where LOADS happens.
Bomb, or Why You Should Never Ever Ever Go On A Blind Date, tells the story of Genesis Wainwright, a teenage girl who, heartbroken by being dumped by her boyfriend Naz, meets a guy online and goes on a blind date. The story starts with Genesis waking up in a damp cellar after the blind date, superglued into a corset stuffed with huge amounts of C4 and an earpiece in her ear with a creepy voice telling her where to go and what to do. After a few understandable moments of freaking the hell out about finding herself to be an unwitting suicide bomber, she complies and starts doing what they tell her...
There was a point a few chapters in where I wondered where the plot was going and how the author was going to spin out Genesis wandering around doing what she was told for a whole book, but I didn’t need to worry, because in walks Dave.
Aah...Dave. Nice Dave. Dave is Genesis’s ex-boyfriend, the one she dumped for Naz (more about Naz later). I liked Dave but I was glad that Bomb didn’t basically turn out to be How Genesis Got Her Ex-Boyfriend Back, i.e. the romance didn’t overwhelm the action. He did seem to be constructed out of purest plotdevicium (he walks back into her life at the exact point when Genesis needs a bomb disposal expert, and it just so happens...he’s a bomb disposal expert! Yay!) but did I care? Not a jot. Bomb relied on some CSI-like leaps of logic and lucky coincidences, and in the nicest possible way, I would say it is a lot like Die Hard 3. It has car chases, motorbike chases, police-dodging, helicopters, the whole shebang.
In addition to the action, Bomb deals with issues surrounding radical, extremist groups and what motivates people to join them, to commit unspeakable acts of violence against other humans, and with daily reports of people leaving the UK to join up with ISIS I guess it’s pretty relevant.
The cult who have turned Genesis into a suicide bomber are The Brightness, a religious extremist group (the actual religion they are an extension of is left suitably vague) who want to bring about the End of Days and while disaffected people have always been easy targets for extremist groups, it did confuse me slightly how mainstream The Brightness seemed to be. They had adverts on the side of buses and their own range of fashion wear. Not tactics I think ISIS have ever employed. And while we’re told why Naz joined them, it’s never really explained how they became so mainstream.
So. Naz. This is the one part that I felt Bomb fell down a bit. When it emerges that Genesis has been recently dumped, I started off thinking, ‘Aw, poor thing. All heartbroken.’ But then it’s revealed that her ex-boyfriend:
1) Joined a cult who despise women and condone acts of extreme violence
2) Asked her to shave her head and get his name tattooed on her scalp
3) Shot swans with an airgun in his spare time.
Swans! Seriously? I mean, cults and misogyny and head tattoos and stuff equals bad, obviously, but SWANS? What the hell did swans do? And why did Genesis never turn round to him and go, ‘You’re shooting SWANS! What the HELL?’ Anyone who would fall in love with someone who shoots swans loses something as a protagonist, in my opinion.
And I get that Genesis being drawn into a relationship with this unsavoury, swan-shooting youth is a metaphor for him being drawn into this extremist cult, but still. Swans!
Still, Evil Meany Naz and Genesis’s Poor Decision-Making Skills aside, I did enjoy Bomb. The tension starts up on the very first page and does not let up until the final sentence.