Review: The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan


United By Pop received a free copy of The Bombs That Brought Us Together in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.

Title: The Bombs That Brought Us Together

Author: Brian Conaghan

Purchase: Available in the UK and (in another edition) the US

Overall rating: 3/5

Great for: Lovers of dystopian fiction with a difference

Themes: young adult, coming-of-age, dystopian, science fiction, war

Review: It has to be a special sort of book to The Costa Book Awards in the Children’s Book category. And with a title as intriguing as this one and the focus on a blossoming friendship in a war-torn country, I knew I had to give this book a go.

Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law resides in impoverished Little Town. With rules governing just about every aspect of his life, gangs ruling in the place of authority, and the constant threat of invasion from nearby Old Country, he has already learnt the importance of not standing out. But that was before he befriended refuge, Pav. This newcomer to the community has no idea that his life is now no longer his own. With someone to protect, will Charlie keep playing to the rules, or will he conjure the courage to fight for justice?

This book initially moved at a sedentary pace that allowed the world to build and the characters to develop simultaneously. The reader isn’t rushed into a plot line but is allowed time to formulate this complex world in their imagination. But when the bombs hit, all that changes.

I feel this book would be a very beneficial learning tool to teach a younger audience about refugees and the devastating effects of war. It gives the reader an up-close account of the stigma immigrants face and really does justice, despite this being set in a fictional land, to those living this story in our own world. The whole conflict between Old Country and Little Town is disturbingly reminiscent of the wars happening in the Middle East, and the way the people there are forced to live.

So far, so poignant. But here my affinity with the book fails. I honestly feel this book came into my life at the wrong time. Everything about this seemed to have been created with me, as a reader, in mind, and yet I couldn’t fully commit to it. This was definitely a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ as this was a pretty faultless book, in my opinion. The friendships were adorable, the world was believable, the dialogue was intense, the plot was thrilling…

I put it down to the abundance of fantasy I have been reading recently, which made this urban setting jarring when I was expecting something different. Much of the lingo used and the references were from our contemporary world and I just wasn’t prepared for it.

This definitely deserves a reread and will benefit from me being better prepared for what to expect, next time. This also proves that young adult books can be impactful and educational, despite the younger target audience.

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