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This review is from: Incendiary (Paperback)
The above are probably the most gripping two words I have ever had the delight of reading at the very beginning of a novel. They hooked me in and dragged me violently into the hypothetical writing of Chris Cleave, where the situation is a devastating terrorist attack on the Emirates Stadium.
`Incendiary' means to cause trouble or damage, and this novel of the same title is about the absolute destruction caused by this imaginary but highly descriptive atrocity. Written from the perspective of a nervous young mother, it supposes the disturbing reality of what she would like to say to Osama Bin Laden after seven consecutive detonated explosions rip apart her husband and young son. It is about how a person picks themselves up and carries on when their family are identifiable only by their dental records. It is about the horror of terrorism and how someone might cope.
`Incendiary' is not for everyone. It is a difficult read, not just because it deals with a particularly frightening concept, but because it is a story strung together erratically. Cleave cleverly alters his writing style to correlate with the inner ramblings of his ruined protagonist, and readers will find themselves doubting her behaviour as realistic.
The story switches unpredictably between the attempted rationalisations which consume our main character as she tries to come to terms with what has happened, and clear, definite moments of simple acceptance.
"It asked why I specially wanted to work at Tesco's and I wrote because my husband and my boy were recently blown up by Islamic terrorists and this has caused a number of problems for me but the most urgent now is money and that is why I want to work at Tesco's"
She tries desperately to appeal to Bin Laden, and is convincingly written as unhinged enough to post such a letter in the belief that she would be able to put an end to global terror. Her story is so incredibly upsetting that you may end up believing that she could. Or, you may discard 'Incendiary' as an unbelievable and unnecessarily dramatic piece of writing which does not accurately portray the mind of a destroyed mother and wife. Regardless, this is a beautiful, descriptive, innovative and captivating story, which many will wish was toned down or written a bit differently but most will take on as an unique and incomparable reading experience.