The Bunker Diary, Kevin Brooks
When one reads a story of a kidnapping, the expected result is an unsettlingly dark story. Kevin Brooks brings this disturbing effect to new levels in his novel The Bunker Diary. Kevin Brooks’s The Bunker Diary (winner of the 2014 Carnegie Medal) is a haunting novel about teenage boy Linus and his experience being trapped in a bunker after a startling abduction. The bunker is simple, really. There are six bedrooms, six plastic plates, a steel toilet, a small kitchen. There is a journal and pen by each bed. Five more prisoners are delivered down into the sterile bunker, each at different times through an electric lift, the only exit or entrance into the area. All of them have been kidnapped and drugged by the same man. Their every move and bare existence are entirely controlled by The Man Upstairs, their abductor and a sadistic God of sorts. The questions that plague the reader through the novel are obvious. Why are they there? Why them? What purpose are they serving? And how in the world will they make it out alive?
The Bunker Diary was one of the most engaging and disturbing stories I have ever read. I sat down at seven o’clock one night and literally could not put it down, finishing it before I went to bed. Brooks formats the book in a series of journal entries from Linus’s perspective, detailing the day by day experiences that he has. The reader feels as if he or she is in the bunker with Linus, living through each terrifying moment, trying to survive the stuff of nightmares. The Bunker Diary is not a pleasant novel. It made me uncomfortable and forced me to imagine situations that I can only pray to avoid. At the end of the novel, many questions remain unanswered. I wonder if this is perhaps intended to leave the reader disturbed even after the novel is done. The book is effective in this sense. Brooks delivers the haunting horror story with such skill that the reader feels realistically trapped as they anxiously turn the pages. I did not enjoy this book, but it was undeniably well done. The Bunker Diary is not for the faint-hearted, but if you want a horrific thriller, this is as good as it gets.
Published in 2013 by Carolrhoda Publishing Labs.
The Wrath and the Dawn, Renée Ahdieh
Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn is a creative reimagining of the classic tale Arabian Nights in which the bloodthirsty young King of Khorasan murders a new wife with the coming of each sunrise. It is surprising when young, beautiful, spirited Sharzad volunteers to be the new wife of the King, Khalid. She comes seeking revenge for the murder of her best friend and former queen, Shiva. Sharzhad believes that she will be the one to break the cycle: to live to see the next sunset and to kill the evil King. Amidst luxury and feasts, Sharzhad discovers not only another side to the people of the palace but a trove of secrets surrounding the young King and his cruel ways. The fairytale intertwines romance and legend in an engrossing story of magic and secrecy.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a fun romance. The story achieves an elegant legend-like feel, even as the characters are well developed and complex. The world of Khorasan is beautiful and realistic in a way that captures the reader’s mind and senses. Sharzhad is extremely likable as her humor and wit are relatable and vital to the tale. However, itis a bit cliche. It offers expected thrills and a stable plot. Luckily, the ending is surprising and leaves the reader wanting more, which can be found in Ahdieh’s sequel, The Rose and the Dagger. I like a sustainable romance, and The Wrath and the Dawn is certainly that.
Published by Putnam Juvenile in 2015.