Bombmaker by Claire McFall

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Lizzie is a Celt; branded and outcast, living on borrowed time in England and trying to survive being a worker for a heavy hitting ‘freedom fighter’ and gang boss, Alexander.  Her only weapons for survival are her knowledge of explosives and herself.

This gritty thriller by Claire McFall is gorgeous. I’ll be the first guy to admit I love dystopian books, and Bombmaker fits the bill perfectly. The pacing is beautifully executed; the prose and writing style is impossible to fault. If you enjoyed the plot of The Hunger Games, Nineteen Eighty-Four or the prose of The Goldfinch, then you’ll adore this volume.

My only complaint with this novel would be the romantic sub-plot. Personally, I feel it turned parts of the book into a rapidly-rising cliché in the dystopian market right now: boy and girl in difficult location, romance stopped by government, rebel/avoid government (a la The Hunger Games and Divergent). The author also uses the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ stereotype abundantly.

The themes of national identity and terrorism come through shining in this book. McFall has clearly shown her feelings on the matter in Bombmaker. For politically-minded teenagers, this novel references the Scottish referendum vote and separation of England and Scotland in a hard-hitting, thoughtful and interesting manner, discussing where the boundary between being terrorised and being a terrorist lie.

Tough, analytical and explosive (no pun intended), Bombmaker is a true dystopian book I have waited a long time to see, with full-on urban action in a future that could genuinely be tomorrow. My fullest commendations to the author for this masterpiece, and I hope to see many more fantastic books from McFall in the future – assuming, of course, the future isn’t like the one in this book.

 ‘Bombmaker’ by Claire McFall is out this month. You can learn more about the author at her website, Her debut novel, ‘Ferryman’ is shortlisted for the older category in the Scottish Book Awards. 

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