The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks. Carolrhoda Books. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.
The Plot: Linus, sixteen, wakes up, alone, in room. No good deed goes unpunished: he was helping a blind guy get some stuff in the back of a van, and, well, turns out the guy wasn't blind after all.
And now he's in this bizarre place, with six bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and an elevator. There is no way in or out except that lift. And there are cameras and microphones. And he's being watched.
And then someone comes down in the elevator: a nine year old girl. And he realizes that there will be more, to fill those bedrooms....
The Good: The Bunker Diary takes place in the secure bunker where Linus finds himself trapped. One of the few things that is there is a journal, and Linus writes in it, and that's what we're reading.
The diary of his days, trapped. His memories of how he got there, his life before.
I'll be honest; this is not usually the type of book I'd read because, well. Sometimes I think I know what I like. But then I listen to other people rave about a book, people I respect, and I say, OK, let me try it. And usually I'm glad I did. This time? So glad I did.
The Bunker Diary is stunning, unforgettable, unpredictable, depressing, sad. While gradually we learn more about Linus's story, at the start he's a runaway who has been living on the streets. So he's a bit street smart, and has guts, and isn't stupid, even if he has been very alone. He's resourceful.
But the person who kidnapped him, and the five others who end up joining him, is also resourceful. And a planner. Because this is always Linus's story, we never find out the motivation of the kidnapper, of the person who put this all together. We can only guess.
In some ways, this is a depressing book. Because these people are trapped, stuck with each other, and with no real hope of escape. Part of the book is just the monotony of these people, in a small space, trying to get back and survive one more day.
And in some ways, it is a book that is not without hope. Which is funny to say, because this is a hopeless book. But Linus, who is no saint, is also no sinner. And he is kind. When nine year old Jenny shows up, Linus looks after her, does his best to protect her.
But there's only so much he can do. About being in the bunker. About Jenny. About the others who join them, who bring their own dangers. About the man who has trapped him there. Who watches. So he writes down what is happening and what he remembers and what he thinks he remembers.
Despite how heart breaking this was (or maybe because of it?), this is a Favorite Book Read in 2015.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy