Time Bomb

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
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Explosive high school thriller marred by flat characters.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Time Bomb raises questions about school safety and could lead to a discussion of gun control.

Positive Messages

It takes courage to live. Students can work together to break down stereotypes and see each other as individuals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All of the six survivors are hiding something about themselves. Diana wants to be more than Little Miss Perfect, while Cas yearns to fit in. Tad refuses to be ignored, while Frankie revels in the spotlight. Z and Rashid are both outsiders, with different strategies for daily survival.

Violence

About a dozen people die in the bomb blasts, and some of their bodies are discovered during the course of the narrative. One badly wounded girl requires CPR and other medical attention. One character wields a gun and shoots someone.

Sex

Two boys share a kiss. In general, there's little time for romance.

Language

A few instances each of "hell," "damn," and "ass."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Time Bomb is a contemporary thriller by Joelle Charbonneau (Dividing Eden, The Testing), in which someone explodes a number of bombs at a public high school. A dozen people are killed, and students trapped on the second floor suspect the bomber may be among them. Infrequent strong language includes a few instances each of "damn," "hell," and "ass." Two boys share a kiss. There's no substance use. 

 

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What's the story?

As TIME BOMB opens in the wake of a bombing, six students find themselves trapped on the second floor of their high school. Musician Cas has tried to fit in socially, but never succeeded. Star quarterback Frankie isn't interested in a pursuing a romance with Tad, especially when Tad demands to know why not. Teen rebel Z is still getting over the death of his mother, while Rashid struggles with how his religion is viewed by his intolerant classmates. As the group alternately searches for help or stays to tend to a wounded student, they learn that most bombs are in the building and that one of the second-floor survivors is believed to be the culprit. How will they save themselves and whom can they trust?

Is it any good?

School safety, especially concerning guns or explosives, is a hot topic, and this race-against-the-clock contemporary thriller puts readers smack in the middle of a high school bombing. Author Joelle Charbonneau concocts a chilling scenario for Time Bomb, in which the half-dozen students trapped on the second floor must find out who among them might be the perpetrator. The teens are a diverse bunch, but their individual motivations seem a little one dimensional, their dialogue a little too on the nose. The identity of the culprit might surprise some readers, but others will be wondering whether the given solution makes a whole lot of sense. This is a solid enough entertainment, but Time Bomb doesn't have that extra oomph that makes for a classic thriller.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Time Bomb and how it addresses issues of school safety. Do you feel safe at school? What actions by teachers and administrators might make you feel safer?

  • Why are people often suspicious of others who dress differently and practice other religions? Is it better for foreign students to try to fit in or to maintain their traditional practices?

  • Two male characters in Time Bomb share a romantic moment, but only one will admit it. Why do some teens hide their sexual identity? What are the risks and the gains of coming out to family and friends?

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