Posts Tagged With: terrorism

The Fall of Charlie Dixon by David Couldrey

Title: The Fall of Charlie Dixon
Author: David Couldrey
ISBN: 978-1780883120
Publisher: Matador
First Published: September 2012
No .of pages: 208

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
The Fall of Charlie Dixon follows the eponymous Charlie and his friends as they react to the turbulent events of the Noughties. From 9/11, via the War on Terror and the 7/7 bombings in London, history looms large in their lives. As terrorist attacks overshadow the decade, more and more of Britain’s youth are pulled into the murky world of anger, violence and Islamophobia. When Charlie falls for the girlfriend of the leader of The Defence of The Realm League, he is inexorably drawn into the chaos that ensues. As the League becomes ever more violent, it becomes clear that some won’t survive the decade. Exploring the various trials of adolescent friendship, betrayal and love against the backdrop of the time, The Fall of Charlie Dixon is both a cautionary tale and a black comedy.

Review:
This novel is billed as a black comedy and it’s rare to see it pulled off this well when the subject matter involves real-life incidences that are still incredibly raw in the minds and hearts of the entire world. That’s not to say this book is hilarious – far from it – it’s more a sardonic smile at how weak the human spirit can be and how cowardice can lead to the downfall not only of the coward, but those around him.

There’s no getting away from the fact that much of the story is pretty grim. There’s a childhood marred by being easily led and too selfish to stand up for right; a youth wasted by boredom; and tragedies on all sides when the world is apparently falling apart in the wake of terrorist attacks, both in America, and here on British soil.

It’s hard read without thinking back to how one felt during the attacks and the aftermath, and each reader is forced to examine how he or she would have reacted in each situation. I can promise you will shake your head at many of the decisions made by Charlie Dixon, but you will keep reading anyway, because, coward as he is, he is still a likable character, and you will probably find, like I did, that you desperately will him to make good before you reach the final pages.

It’s dark. It’s very dark. But Couldrey manages to ensure it’s never depressing, instead making one appreciate what is good in life and resolving to make things better. And that can only be a good thing.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Incendiary by Chris Cleave

Incendiary tells the story of an unnamed young mother in London who loses her husband and son in a terrorist attack at a football game.  While she is committing adultery and at the same time watching the game on television, eleven Islamic terrorists in the crowd let off bombs and she sees the explosion which kills “her chaps.”

The book is told in the form of a letter from this young woman to Osama Bin Laden, in which she tries to explain the effect the tragic loss had on her.  Through her letter, the reader also learns how the terrorist attack affects London as a whole. 

I thought this was a very thought provoking and insightful book.  Through the eyes of the narrator, we see how London gives a knee-jerk reaction to the attack, by such measures as stopping Muslims working in certain jobs (a nurse who looks after the narrator is told that she cannot carry on doing her job), and imposing a curfew on everybody living in London, with very harsh penalties for anyone who dares to break it.  Helicopters constantly patrol over London and a culture of fear sets in, which  makes people behave in terrible and frightening ways.

We also see how the life of the narrator is changed irrevocably, as she starts to slowly descend into grief-induced madness, while outwardly trying to cope with the hole in her life that can never be filled.  Her pain is all too believeable, sometimes almost painfully so.

The writing is excellent – with the young woman as narrator, the reader is really able to get into her head and sympathise with her.  The fact that she is never named (and neither are her husband or son), underlines the point that this woman could be any person – terrorism isn’t discriminatory.

My only slight complaint is that there was one thing which happened in the woman’s life which seemed too implausible and unbelieveable.  This is only a very minor gripe however, as these scenes sit amid a story which is chock full of horrifying and all too believeable scenes and images. 

Overall, this is a stunning debut novel, and I am now eager to read Chris Cleave’s second book.  Highly recommended.

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Tracks by Mike Gordon

This is Mike Gordon’s first novel, yet to be released, and I must say, well worth reading. Here is the synopsis for Tracks taken from the back cover:

The future of the surveillance society…In Boston, Global HealthCare Corporation is hoping to recover its fortunes with a new micro-chip technology which can eradicate disease – until Peter Miller, the brilliant but troubled architect of the program, quits his job and goes to work at a psychiatric hospital in London, helping develop a system to track dangerous patients. When a deadly threat to the US emerges, a covert Federal agency becomes involved, and Miller is caught in a web of lies, love, insanity and murder – and he find he’s opened the door to a frightening future.

This is not my usual type of book, but I really enjoyed Tracks. It was gripping, fast-paced and exciting. Issues of mental health, American security, future technology and religion are all addressed in this book. It is just under 300 pages long, and I read 200 pages in one go. There were no slow or boring parts in this book.

I liked the characters and the human characteristics they revealed and struggled with, such as fear, anger and instability. Gordon writes in a way that is realistic, making it easy to engage with the characters.

The ending was magnificent, I was thoroughly satisfied with the way Gordon brought it all together and was surprised at all the way it all tied together and the links between people that I did not see coming at all.

The only thing I did not like was the idea of the anti-christ and the 666 beast. I did not see the point of this strand of the story. I did not feel this was important in the story.

A really good first novel.

9/10

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