Monday, January 19, 2015

The Bunker Diary - A Review

Today I have on my blog a book review by a guest - a young guest. Meet Varun, a student of class IX. He is an avid reader and loves a good game of basket ball. He has the brain of a techie and the heart of a book-lover - some combination, isn't it? He blogs, though infrequently, at www.asiaticvrun.wordpress.com.

Here's what he had to say about himself -
Hi I'm Varun. My interests are game development and writing. I aspire to become a game designer-cum-author. I like to - 
  • Read storybooks (and then re-read the awesome parts)
  • Watch good TV shows (and  repeat the cool lines before the mirror or in my sleep)
  • Watch movies with a solid IMDb rating
  • Play basketball (I'm still learning, albeit rather slowly)
  • Make my ideas come to life in form of little video-games or animation (my works are not perfect but I enjoy developing them)
  • Write little stories or even cool sentences in my head (usually I feel too lazy to put it on paper)
  • Kill the bad guys, hurt the bad guys, or beat 'em up (in video-games, for scores...)
  • As for the things I hate - there's nothing much (except the bad guys...in games)



The review


Title - The Bunker Diary
Author - Kevin Brooks


About the story
The Bunker Diary is a record of the time teenager Linus Weems spends in a reconditioned nuclear bunker held hostage by 'the man upstairs'. Written in first-person, the book begins with a dazed narration by Linus describing the bunker where he was immured. The writer then attempts to hook the reader with increasingly sinistrous mystery. The readers are told about a stranger who lures Linus into his van, drugs him, and throws him into the bunker. But never reveals his motive.
Soon, Linus is joined by five other people in the bunker. His diary describes their daily activities, escape struggles, and demises. Throughout the plot these characters are subjected to cruel abuse. 'The man upstairs', their kidnapper, controls everything in their prison- temperature, electricity, illumination, water, availability of food, and even the perception of time.

Writing Style
Kevin Brooks makes good use of punctuation to emphasize and express.
Since the book is written in first-person he alters his diction to befit Linus' character. 
His writing style morphs with the characters' development and shows when they are dazed, distressed, dejected, deranged, drugged, or dying. He also deliberately arranges the text with some extra spacing here and a line break there for subtle expression but his language is raw and forthright.
Here are some excerpts from the book -

"12.15 p.m.
      Nothing moves.
      Time is slow.

 "I thought he was blind. That's how he got me. I still can't 
 believe I fell for it. I keep playing it over in my mind, hoping
 I'll do something different, but it always turns out the same."

"Jenny dies in my arms. 
     Goes to sleep, doesn't wake up.
     My tears taste of blood. "

My Thoughts
This book is awash with morbidity. The plot is enveloped in darkness with only traces of light. I was thoroughly disappointed by its unusually dark ending. "What was the point of reading this book?" I asked myself at the last page.
If this book had been a literary work, I might have relented. But this is dark and pointless fiction. It isn't even poignant or plausible. You might argue that I have a different taste in literature, an affinity with the positive, and that's true indeed. But I can see the clear line that separates praiseworthy poignancy and psychotic morbidity.
********** 

Note: I asked for a review of The Bunker Diary because it is an award winning book with a teenage protagonist written for 'young adults'. I thought a young perspective would be good. And then right away I was apprehensive wondering if it would be too morbid. However I needn't have worried.

14 comments:

  1. His thoughts are very very clear on whether he liked the book or not - such an honest review, I can already see genuine book reviewer in him :D
    //(and repeat the cool lines before the mirror or in my sleep)// hahaha that's is so cute :D

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rajlakshmi. I'm sure he'll be flattered (and will probably be repeating the compliments in his sleep this time ;-)).

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  2. A basketball player .. first of all HIGH FIVE on that one .. :) I love the game ..

    and what a post from a young man in IX class.. good one Sir , you write better than me for sure .. Well done

    Bikram's

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    Replies
    1. Will convey your high five Bikram. 'Better than you' sounds too good to be true.

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  3. As I mentioned to you , I am very impressed that a 15-year-old wrote this review. It is lucid, detailed and very well-written! I am also equally impressed by the fact that he is not afraid to mention what he dislikes about the book. That, in my opinion, is the mark of a true critic. Balance and moderation with equal weightage to both the good and the bad. It also speaks volumes for him as a person. Great job, Varun!

    Well done, Tulika, on hosting him here :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Shailaja. I do hope he continues to write and review. Young people have so much on their plates.

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  4. Wow I'm so impressed by this review...I think we adults need to learn something about reviews from these young chaps... You are amazing for doing this Tulika

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    Replies
    1. Hey I didn't do anything Naba. I was just as impressed.

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  5. Bravo. A good review with points of pro and cons about the book

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    Replies
    1. Hey Small Kucing - good to see you here again. Glad you found it a balanced review.

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  6. Tulika,

    Thanks for stopping by at my blog. Your "finding santa" post is inspiring. Bookmarked your blog for future visits :)

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  7. Great review...gives a good idea about what to expect from the book.

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