Customer Reviews


82 Reviews
5 star:
 (47)
4 star:
 (17)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (6)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Carnegie Winner (so far!!!)
I'm 11years old and I read this as part of a Carnegie book quiz at the library for my school reading team, and I must say it blew me away. This kind of book is one you remember forever, well in my case anyway. I like reading books about human nature and thought patterns, and it intrigued from the very start: you're a teenager, you live on the streets, and you're suddenly...
Published 3 months ago by L Richardson

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A challenging piece of art work, but not a story. Stopping isn't an ending.
Warning: Unusually for one of my reviews - contains spoilers. If you want to read this novel and don't want to know what happens then don't;

(1) - Read my review
(2) - Read any of the publicity about the award of the Carnegie Medal to this book
(3) - Read the book's blurb or title!!

“You were so busy thinking about whether you could...
Published 21 days ago by Andrew D Wright


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Carnegie Winner (so far!!!), 16 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Kindle Edition)
I'm 11years old and I read this as part of a Carnegie book quiz at the library for my school reading team, and I must say it blew me away. This kind of book is one you remember forever, well in my case anyway. I like reading books about human nature and thought patterns, and it intrigued from the very start: you're a teenager, you live on the streets, and you're suddenly trapped with some older people who are going mad, and a liitle kid to look after. What do you do?

The answer is stay alive. And how? Read and dicover...
An incredibly truthful book, true to everything we would do in that situation. Yes, it's disturbing, but you're not actually that kid are you? Worse things happened in the Holocaust, and still happen now. I say learn from and don't forget this book. Read it. You won't regret it.

p.s. I'd avoid it if you get nightmares
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a word of caution, 7 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Paperback)
My son had to read this for a school project. He's 12 years old, very bright and pretty level-headed but this really shook him up: he finished reading it in bed and came downstairs afterwards because he couldn't sleep, and was still very upset the next morning. So I picked up the book and read the last 20 pages or so, and I can see why. It reads very much like a Stephen King short story, and is in no way tempered to suit the younger reader. Now, I'm a huge King fan and started reading him in my mid-teens, and from what I've read of The Bunker Diary it seems very well-written; I'm sure my son will get over it and they'll no doubt have a very interesting discussion in school about it. But please be aware that it's intense, bleak and unsettling. If you're buying it for your child, read it first!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A challenging piece of art work, but not a story. Stopping isn't an ending., 1 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Paperback)
Warning: Unusually for one of my reviews - contains spoilers. If you want to read this novel and don't want to know what happens then don't;

(1) - Read my review
(2) - Read any of the publicity about the award of the Carnegie Medal to this book
(3) - Read the book's blurb or title!!

“You were so busy thinking about whether you could do it, you forget to ask yourself whether you should!”

Dr Ian Malcolm, Jeff Goldblum’s character in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park movie.

Brooks is a great writer. But…

There’s been a lot written about this book. A Carnegie medal winner garnering as much acclaim as moral outrage. Both are misplaced I think. The moral outrage is mostly generated by people who haven’t even read the book. And a lot of it is just patronising; “oh protect the little children from, the dark…” kind of commentary. But equally the medal does seem to have been given to a controversial choice to make a splash. Great marketing for Brooks and Penguin. There is absolutely, definitely something that is daring and ground-breaking here. A masterpiece possibly, but actually, an unfinished one (I’ll come back to that later) The writing is compelling. There is a strong and powerful voice here. Kevin Brooks is a great writer. The scenario is compelling too. The characterisation is excellent and the protagonist is well drawn, believable, sympathetic. We are rooting for him within two pages. Poor Linus, poor, poor Linus.

The conceit is described perfectly by the title; these are the diaries of someone kidnapped and held against their will in an inescapable bunker. Linus is our voice in the darkness. He is kidnapped from Liverpool Street station where he’s been living rough on the street and wakes up in a six-roomed underground bunker. He’s on his own down there for a few days and then Jenny, a nine year old girl turns up. People arrive in the bunker via a lift which comes down every morning at 8am, mostly empty, sometimes with newcomers until the bunker reaches capacity. Six people. They’re all kidnapped in various ways, most chloroformed unconscious and bound in a wheelchair and placed in the lift. We never meet their kidnapper.

With Linus and Jenny there’s Anya (a twenty-something socialite), Fred (drug and alcohol addict) William Bird (banker type) and finally, the last to be kidnapped and join those incarcerated is Russell. So, two children - Jenny and Linus - four adults, Russell is the oldest, 70. This is notionally a book for Young Adults because Linus is the protagonist, but it is actually a book about the horror of being incarcerated in the dark without hope. And that’s the key, there is no hope. At some point, about halfway through, we begin to understand that there is going to be no escape, no solution to why they’ve been taken. Not a pretty book. Not a nice book. Actually, not a story at all really, more a study in misery and horror and nastiness. It’s like celebrity big brother or one of those Victorian freak shows, you don’t want to watch but prurience and open-jawed fascination keeps you going. But not a story. Resoundingly not a story (again I’ll come to that). Because stories require resolution. Not a happy ending, not always, not a nice smiley lobotomised ending, but, but definitely an ending. A story that doesn’t end is, actually, not a story at all. It is unfinished.

This is more art than story, more Kevin Brooks sticking forks in his narrative legs and then putting a bag over his head and wrapping stones around himself and then jumping into a well and then sinking down and down and down just to see what it’s like. It takes commitment and energy to write stuff this dark and I’m sure Kevin a lovely man, but you need to finish the book mate. Dark. Nasty. Horrific. A horror book. But not a fun horror book (if you now what I mean) like a Stephen King where it’s make-believe, supernatural, scary, spooky and horror-filled that is entertaining. This is a car crash viewed across the other carriage way, we shouldn’t look but there’s a piece of us that wants to. This is horror without the story, horror to the level of festishistic (have no problem with horror per se as long as it sits within a story).

It fits the definition of art most certainly, in that it challenges you. Makes you think; mostly actually, how can someone write this stuff? But a story, not really, because it’s like a severed limb, there isn’t shape we recognise at the end of it. Don’t read it would be my advice, it’s not pretty. There’s murder, human despicableness and deep, deep misery. I admire the skill and talent in this book, the man is clearly a master at what he does. But and it’s a big but…why? What is the point? Really. Hats off to Mr Brooks that he can be so nasty to his characters, and yes I know the world is horrible and nasty things happen, but I want a story that offers me something, not even something as twee as hope, but something. Six people in a bunker with little food and no hope. What do we think’s going to happen? We’re intelligent people. We are. Come on. Guess. I’ve asked ten people this question. They have all answered; “Sounds to me like they all die!” Home run. Well that’s this book. Unrelentingly horrible. And just when you think it can’t get any more horrible it then goes and gets worse. Life ends in tears. Life ends in the middle of sentences. Stories end with resolutions. Otherwise they’re not stories.

If I contrast this with Emma Donoghue’s equally well-regarded Room - again written in the first person by one of the incarcerated (a 5 yr old) - the Bunker Diaries and Kevin Brooks miss the point of fiction I think. Fiction is about a story, with a structure, with a resolution, it doesn’t have to be a happy ending (think Handmaid’s Tale or The Fault In Our Stars) but it does have to end in a manner than brings ends together in some fashion. Life is ragged and stops without an end sometimes, people die all the time in the middle of the sentence of their lives. And people in a Bunker can do this too, but we, the reader, need to be offered something more from a story than a sentence finishing in the middle. That might be art, but it is vicious and nasty and actually, a bit lazy. No resolution. Uh? Hey, didn’t you forget something? Our questions are not answered, we’re just left looking at a bloody, horrific scene endlessly. So, poor, poor Linus our protag.. And, whilst I deeply admire Kevin Brooks literary prowess and he certainly deserves the acclaim for all of his skills, please, not for this book. No. This book is like a punch in the face from a stranger who runs away and is never caught. Pointless, painful, shocking and utterly unnecessary.

In defending this book Kevin Brooks has said "Children don't need happy endings." Fine. Agree. Some of the best and most powerful stories don't have them. But children do need endings - resolutions. This book stops, it doesn't end. An avant-garde art work in Tate Modern that the painter "didn't finish" as an act of art, you know half a canvas or the left-hand side of of sculpture, they'd be art, they wouldn't be stories.

It will be a while before I pick up another Kevin Brooks book. Staring into bleakness and not blinking is certainly a skill he has in spades, but is it one we need actually? We need the gorgeous joy of a well-told story, not some kind of punch-me-in-the-stomach game of misery depiction that takes us down into the dark with no way out. The bunker prisoners didn’t even need to escape, Kevin, you can have all the suffering you like, but give us some kind of resolution, Margaret Atwood does it brilliantly in the Handmaid’s Tale without the emotional power of the trauma of the protagonist’s horrific experience being lost. Or have a look at Sara Mussi’s excellent Siege, as bleak, as gritty and as dark - but it still gives us a resolution; review for Siege is here. Bunker Diaries needs to go back to the writer. The note for Kevin from me would read.

Brilliant stuff so far. Superb writing. Great set-up. Could even win the Carnegie! Now; finish it. No, I don’t want happy or hopeful necessary but the reader must have a resolution for this to be a story. How, you ask? You’re the writer, use your imagination.

As Dr Ian Malcolm says, to reprise;

“You were so busy thinking about whether you could do it, you forget to ask yourself whether you should!”

PS - An interesting question is if there was a resolution beyond Linus’s horror would it have won the Carnegie? Possibly not. Which is interesting in its own right. Publicity over story-telling? Maybe. But does that mean publicity and art trump story-telling? This is art, it got me thinking and responding but the controversy of the Carnegie medal is around the lack of a story for me, not in moralising about dark and difficult fiction. Children’s fiction stories win Carnegie. This isn’t a finished story. Not yet.

But what do I know? Really.

** 2 Stars (not a story yet)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carnegie Medal Winning Masterpiece, 19 July 2014
By 
Mr. Ed "edsheadsaid" (Japan) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Paperback)
As an English teacher of 12-13 year olds, I am constantly on the look out for challenging novels that will enthuse and hold the attention. I am looking for books that contain mature themes, and deal with harsh realities. The genre is largely irrelevant - I am no snob when it comes to reading - a book is a book!

This book has recently been awarded the Carnegie Medal (2014) for Children's books, and is well deserving of this award. Kevin Brooks stated that 'Children don't need happy endings', and they certainly aren't going to find any in this book.

As an adult, I tore through this incredibly gripping book in a number of hours - 'page turner' is a phrase that could have been invented for 'The Bunker Diary'. My pupils were all similarly engrossed by it, and it provided material for many fruitful and stimulating discussions.

Buy it for your 13-year old, buy it for yourself. You won't be able to put it down, but you won't feel the same by the end!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bleak (but Fabulous) Thriller, Age 14 Upwards Advisable, 15 Sep 2014
By 
Bill Mason (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Paperback)
This is a very well written, gripping thriller, aimed at teens, but which I think makes an equally good read for adults. Six individuals, including a 16 year old boy (who is the narrator), a 9 year old girl, and four adults, find themselves trapped in an underground concrete bunker. The bunker comprises six individual cells, a bathroom and a toilet. Each one of the group has been captured by an unknown assailant, using chloroform to trap them, and then dumped in the bunker. A lift is the only access to and from the bunker. The prisoners make written requests for what they need, e.g. food, water, toilet paper, etc, send it up in the lift, and the lift comes down with whatever the captor deems suitable. The bunker is booby trapped, so any attempt at escape or causing damage, is met with painful and harrowing consequences. I won't reveal any more than this. I really couldn't put this book down. It hooks you from page one. However, I could not recommend it to anyone under the age of 14, because it is actually quite disturbing. The descriptions of how the captor torments the six with noise, gas, temperature, and even an animal attack, are fairly graphic, almost reading like a James Herbert or Stephen King novel. I have a 12 year old daughter, and I inadvertently made the mistake of allowing her to read The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, which she found very upsetting. I'm not, therefore, going to let her read The Bunker Diary, for at least another couple of years. The prose style in The Bunker Diary is concise, efficient, not a word is wasted, and the development of each individual character, is very well done. This is an excellent read, but I definitely think that children under the age of 14, might very well be deeply upset by the contents, especially in the final quarter of the book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark, psychological thriller and exploration of human behaviour, 16 May 2013
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Paperback)
A brave, powerful book which went places I didn't expect it to. Definitely not for younger readers, or for those who want everything explained at the end.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars needs to go in room 101, 21 April 2014
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Paperback)
Very shocking and deliberately so. The only purpose of this book to me is to guard vulnerable young people against becoming a victim themselves, in which case, it does retain a place on the shelves.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I didn't enjoy it, and the plot made less sense than ..., 29 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Kindle Edition)
Well written and involving enough that I finished it (just), but the only question it left me was why was it written? I didn't learn anything, I didn't enjoy it, and the plot made less sense than a cheap horror film like SAW or Friday 13th.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking, gripping, harrowing, and very bleak. Probably not for younger readers., 30 July 2014
By 
lilysmum "lilysmum65" (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Paperback)
This is a very powerful and disturbing book but it has proved extremely popular with my Year 8 class. A lot of them have requested a copy. It is a deserving winner of the Carnegie in my view, even though I can see why it took so long to get published, because it is unremittingly bleak and grim.

Linus is a 15 year old lad who is abducted and imprisoned in an underground bunker. He appears to be help prisoner and gradually comes to learn how best to survive, at the whim of his captor. Over the following days, five more "inmates" are incarcerated alongside Linus, including a young girl and an elderly man. The captor, who is never seen or heard, tortures his prisoners and seemingly enjoys their sufferings. He deprives them of food, and also encourages them to attack each other. It is this aspect of the book that is most disturbing. There is no sense of altruism except perhaps from Linus himself.

I do think this book needs handling with care and not recommending to all youngsters - however, teens do know what sort of books they are ready to read and whilst for some it wouldn't appeal, for others who are questioning the purpose of life, they are ready to explore these issues with the help of a bleak book like this one.

Brooks is famous for the philosophical ideas he carefully adds into his narratives and I think that's what gives this book its heft.

A remarkable, ground-breaking book, and one that will haunt you, no matter how young or old you are!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, but Utterly Disturbing!, 3 July 2013
This review is from: The Bunker Diary (Paperback)
Rating: 6/10

The Bunker Diary is a brilliantly written novel. This is the first book I've read by Kevin Brooks, and I have to say that he's a very talented author. The synopsis caught my attention for this novel. It seemed mysterious and creepy. I was intrigued to find out more. So I bought it and started reading straight away.

Right from the beginning The Bunker Diary was a page turner. I was up 'till all hours reading. It had such a mysterious story line, and I couldn't put it down. A very gripping novel during the beginning. But about halfway through the book the story line started to get a bit bland. I was always expecting something to happen, something big, but nothing did. Very clever, Kevin Brooks. But not clever enough. You everything was building up for a climax, but we were disappointed. You left us stranded. And that's when The Bunker Diary started to bore me.

"I thought he was blind. That's how he got me."

It was at that point, halfway through the book, that I realised that there weren't any twists, and it didn't look like there would be. The situation the characters were in didn't seem to be changing one bit. But I still had that little bit of hope that the ending would make up for this. That Kevin Brooks purposefully kept us waiting for a spectacular finale. I was wrong.

The ending left me disappointed and quite disturbed. It was a very unsatisfying ending. I felt empty after finishing The Bunker Diary. If there was even an epilogue to give us some closure. It was very disappointing and left me feeling pretty bad, because I probably would have liked the book a lot better if the ending was a satisfying one.

Why? We never found out the answer to that question in the story. Why were six people kidnapped and placed in a bunker, trapped? Was it just a sadistic man trying to have some fun? Was it a cult rebelling against the community? We'll never know, and it kills me. It kills me because I had hoped that we would at least have been left with an explanation for the mysterious story line. Kevin Brooks, why? Why didn't you give us a proper ending?

"He's watching us."

The Bunker Diary was extremely disturbing and creepy. The idea of the story line sends chills down my spine. It's a phycological thriller that's actually quite scary at times, just the overall idea of the situation in the story. And the ending made it all the more disturbing. It was realistic novel, but I would've like to have a little insight to the after-effects of the story.

The characters in The Bunker Diary are brilliantly developed. Especially the main character, Linus, who narrated the novel through the writing in his diary, hence the title. Their personalities were realistic and that made it a much more enjoyable read. I liked the diverse personalities Brooks included in the story. Again, it made everything more realistic.

Overall, The Bunker Diary is a disturbingly chilling novel. Not my favourite, because of the frustrating ending, but can't deny that it was a page turner. Kevin Brooks writing style is truly amazing and I admire the way The Bunker Diary was written. The Bunker Diary is not the kind of book that you read again and again, it's a one-read-wonder.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Bunker Diary
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks (Paperback - 7 Mar 2013)
£5.59
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews