Time Bomb
Time Bomb
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Annotation: Six students are trapped in their school after a bomb goes off, and must fight to survive while discovering who among them is the bomber.
Catalog Number: #158775
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 340 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-544-41670-8
ISBN 13: 978-0-544-41670-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017006799
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Summer is ending, which, for most students, means visits to school for new IDs or early sports practices. No one is expecting the bomb that goes off, devastating the school and trapping a group of students inside. Six students search for a way out: Diana, the perfect girl whose congressman father is pushing an unpopular privacy bill; Frankie, the golden-boy quarterback who hooked up with one of his teammates over the summer; Tad, half white and half black, determined to force Frankie to recognize their relationship; Cas, a clarinet player who can't stand another day trapped in her body; Rashid, a Muslim boy who's tired of being judged for his religion; and recently orphaned Z, trying to rescue a friend seriously injured in the explosion. The stakes are high enough, but the group soon realizes they have bigger problems: the bomber is one of them, and the danger is far from over. Charbonneau (Need, 2015) is no stranger to suspense, and this survival tale delivers. A thriller with a human heart that will have readers holding their breath. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Genre-hopping Charbonneau has a knack for dramatic tension, and this thriller will appeal to her existing fanbase.
Kirkus Reviews
When a suburban high school is devastated by a bombing, a diverse group of teens gathers to find a way out. Minor connections pre-exist among the group: biracial (black/white) Tad is on the football team with the popular Frankie, a white boy, and the pair may be a little more than just friends. Latino Z has been pegged as the class ne'er-do-well; Palestinian-American Rashid, an observant Muslim, feels extra conspicuous now that his beard has started growing. Of course, everyone knows the white daughter of a U.S. senator, the perfectly popular Diana. The wildcard is olive-skinned Cassandra, the new kid in school. When word reaches the gang that the bomber may still be inside the building, tensions rise and the small bonds just being forged threaten to disintegrate. The third-person perspective shifts chapter to chapter, letting readers into each of the character's heads. Some of the characters are fuller than others (Z is frustratingly thin), but through their eyes the author lays out the geography of the school before the bombing and smartly paces the aftermath. Charbonneau makes the bold move of letting readers—though not all the characters—know who the bomber is right away. This pivots the suspense from a whodunit to a survival tale, and the author effectively charts the action, taking time to allow the kids to discuss current events and the perils of false assumptions.A keenly crafted thriller. (Thriller. 12-16)
Publishers Weekly
In a terrifying, timely thriller, six teens work together to survive after becoming trapped in their school following a bombing. Each member of the diverse group-congressman-s daughter Diana, biracial and newly out Tad, star athlete Frankie, socially awkward musician Cas, rebellious Z, and Rashid, who wants to be seen as more than just Muslim-has a personal reason for being at school before the semester starts, and it soon becomes clear that one of them is the bomber. Fragile alliances are formed and secrets are revealed, but distrust and paranoia undermine the group-s efforts to escape an increasingly deadly situation. In her attempt to maintain ambiguity and mystery regarding the bomber-s identity, Charbonneau (Need) withholds a great deal from readers at first, keeping characters- motivations a mystery even when it doesn-t make sense to avoid them. However, the high-pressure environment, increasing tension, and enormous stakes make this a gripping story that touches on numerous stressors facing contemporary teens, including suicidal ideation, parental pressure to succeed, and religious profiling. It-s a powerful page-turner that doesn-t let up until its explosive finale. Ages 12-up. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow, Carlson and Lerner. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up Six students struggle to survive after a series of bombs explode and trap them in the war zonelike ruins of their high school. Featuring multiple perspectives, this riveting thriller explores the power of prejudice and assumptions through the lens of school violence. It's revealed early on that one of the survivors is also involved in the bombing. From the school's perfect Queen Bee to the tough-as-nails delinquent, each of the students has a different motive for being at school that day. Charbonneau builds suspense by subtly planting red herrings about the accomplice's identity while also raising questions about others. The frequent shifts in perspective allow readers to see beyond each character's stock exterior. While each one has a distinct voice, some narratives are more compelling than others. The most complex and developed character is Rashid, a Muslim teenager who feels he must compromise his family's ideals in order to make his school life easier. Other students are immediately suspicious of Rashid after the initial bomb. While the book confronts this racism head-on and another character is ultimately responsible, the narrative feels stereotypical and exploitative in its casting of Rashid as a would-be terrorist based on his race and religion alone. VERDICT A tense, fast-paced thriller that explores prejudice and stereotypes, sometimes insensitively, in the all-too-real setting of extreme violence at a high school. Sophie Kenney, Vernon Area Public Library District, IL
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (2/1/18)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (1/1/18)
Word Count: 67,491
Reading Level: 4.9
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.9 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 198536 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:17.0 / quiz:Q72193
Lexile: HL720L
Guided Reading Level: P

1:51 P.M.

"DON'T FIGHT," CAS SAID from the doorway that Frankie and Z had just disappeared through. Tears glistened in her eyes. "Can we turn the radio back on? Maybe they'll tell us help is finally coming."
     Rashid clicked on the radio before heading over to help Tad. There was the buzz of static, then the announcer telling everyone that the firefighters were making progress. The fire was contained to the west side, and they hoped to have it out soon.
     "With one person of interest being questioned, authorities are now working to find another individual they have confirmed is involved in this terrible bombing. A source confirms that the individual is one of the students trapped on the second floor of the school. With four bombs having already gone off, there appears to be one explosive device still inside the school that could detonate at any time."
     Another bomb was ready to go off, and the bomber was one of them.

Earlier That Day . . .
8:35 A.M.

-- Chapter 1 --

ALL YOU HAD TO DO was smile and wear the right clothes, and everyone would think you were special. If you appeared successful, people would automatically assume you were successful. Her parents believed that. Her father had built a career on it. They wanted her to believe it.
     Diana hated that she did.
     "Perception is everything, Diana," her stepmother said so often that Diana wanted to scream. But screaming wasn't presentable. And, boy, did it make the wrong impression. This made screaming at the top of her lungs very tempting.
     "Always take care to make the correct choice, Diana," her stepmother said over and over again. "Everything you do is important and reflects on your father and the positions he takes. And think about what your father's opponents would claim if you don't do well in school or become a leader in the activities you're in. They'll wonder how serious your father is about education if his own daughter doesn't do well in school. The other side is always looking for a reason to point fingers and show that your father isn't worthy of his position. That we aren't worthy. So you can't allow your grades or your attention to detail to slide, or you'll hurt your father and, worse, you'll hurt the work he's trying to do."
     Diana looked down at the clothes she'd chosen for the day. After sixteen years, she knew exactly what details would be noticed and what people would think when they saw her.
     Stylish white jeans. A tasteful pink top. But nothing too expensive, because that made people jealous. Nothing too tight, because that gave people the wrong idea. And no wrinkles. Wrinkles made people think you were lazy. No one trusts a person who is lazy. To get what you wanted in life, you must inspire trust--even if you intended to break it.
     Her father inspired trust with his perfectly tailored suits that were made less stuffy because he never wore a tie and always left the collar open.
     Folksy. Friendly. Everyone's idea of the perfect dad and former army-communications specialist who always puts his family and country first. At least that's what people must have thought, because he got elected. He was working hard to make sure he got to keep his job for another term, and it was their family's job--Diana's job--to make sure she didn't do anything wrong that could make voters question whether they wanted him back in office.
     No pressure there.
     "Katherine?" she yelled, knowing how much her stepmother hated raised voices. No response. She must have already gone downstairs. Dad would be in meetings already. Diana bit her lip as she reached for the gold studs Katherine gave her for her sixteenth birthday, then added the gold-cross necklace that had technically been from her father. She'd pretended not to notice when one of his aides handed him the box that he'd clearly been unaware of up until that moment.
     "Little touches make all the difference," Katherine insisted. "People notice the details."
     Yes, they did, Diana thought as she reached into her jewelry box and pulled out the ratty friendship bracelet she'd made for herself years ago, wishing she'd had someone to give it to and to get one in return from. No one ever assumed the popular girl needed to be given a gift. No one thought about whether the popular girl was lonely when she went home. Everyone assumed the popular girl had a million friends and a family who supported her.
     Diana walked to her mirror and checked her makeup. Just enough to make her blue eyes look bigger. Nothing more, or people might question whether she was a good girl. And she was supposed to be a good girl. She ticked off her stepmother's checklist one by one.
     Good shoes.
     A nice home.
     Top grades.
     Smart, respectable family tree.
     Perfect manners.
     All signs of a strong, well-brought-up girl. A girl everyone claimed to know from school. One parents and teachers pointed to as an example to others. One who had been taught to calculate her appearance and demeanor down to the plain red color of her cell-phone case. One who was determined to use it all to show everyone that it was foolish to trust what someone wanted you to see.
     And if she didn't want to ruin her perfect image, Diana would have to get moving. Tardiness was not acceptable for a girl who was supposed to be without flaws. Tardiness implied a lack of respect for other people's time.
     Glancing at her watch, she shook her head and hurried downstairs to find her stepmother so she could get a ride to school for the yearbook meeting.
     "Katherine?" she called.
     No answer. Huh. Well, Katherine was probably in the backyard making sure the staff had polished the patio furniture to a shine so that guests could be invited back to the house after the event tonight.
     "Your mother went out."
     "What?" She turned and spotted her father standing next to the porch swing with his cell phone pressed to his ear. Since there was no point in correcting him about Katherine's relationship to her, she simply asked, "Where?"
     He put up a hand to quiet her. "Yes, I'm here, and yes, I understand there's been some pushback, but I can't step back from the bill, or I'll get hammered. The press will smell blood and it'll be over, and we all know I'm right on this. I just need one thing to tip in my favor. You have to trust me on this."
     Diana started to speak again, but before she could get a word out, her father turned his back and nodded. She would have to get in line for his attention.
     "Yes. I'll make that distinction tonight, and don't worry. The event will be the perfect place to highlight the positive points in the bill and to take charge of the conversation. If you have other things you want to talk about, I'll be at the office in a half-hour. Good speaking with you, too, Tim. I appreciate your dedication. We're going to turn things around." Finally he hung up and turned toward her.
     He was wearing perfectly pressed khakis and a red polo shirt under a deep blue sports coat--relaxed authority was what her stepmother called the look. But despite the clothes, Diana didn't think her father appeared relaxed.
     "That was Tim?"
     Her father nodded. "He's worried about the negative press my Safety Through Education bill is getting."
     Tim hadn't been on her father's staff as long as the others, but he was smart and perceptive, which is why her father's chief of staff hired him right out of graduate school. And even though he was younger than the rest of the staff, Diana knew Tim was right to be worried about her father's bill. The press was calling it an invasion of privacy. The law would require that students and teachers inform the administration if they thought someone in the school might be interested in doing harm to students, teachers, or school property. Any students reported would then have to hand over their passwords to social media and email accounts or face suspension and a potential investigation by federal authorities. Those who didn't report suspicions before a harmful event could be charged with aiding and abetting.
     Her father believed the law would turn everything in the country around and would finally do what no other laws had been able to do--make things safer. Any students interested in causing trouble would think twice about it if they knew their friends and teachers were watching them and ready to act on any suspicious activity. And by catching and circumventing threatening behavior early, there was a good chance of diverting those students toward a more positive path. Her father was certain that taking action in the schools and the education system was the best way of changing the escalating pattern of violence in the country.
     "Was there another bad story in the press?" Diana asked. Not everyone agreed with her father's thoughts on how to keep the country safe. Since the unveiling of the bill, there had been phone calls and mail and huge editorials about invasion of privacy and people's differing definitions of what a "threat" to society actually was. Diana had even gotten hate mail for her father's idea. When she had tried to talk to her father about it, he had just told her to give the mail to Tim and ignore it. That everything would work out. But when Tim had sat with her and listened to her talk about the threats she'd gotten and how people made a point of telling her they were going to vote her father out of office, Tim had admitted the backlash was concerning. If the tide of bad press and angry editorials about the potential law continued, they both agreed that it would be sunk before it ever had a chance to be tested. And her father's career--one she had been told was necessary to make the world better--would be sunk along with it.
     Was it any wonder Tim wanted to pull out all the stops to make sure her father's event tonight got the press's attention, or that she was willing to do whatever it took to help? It was nice to have someone finally realize that she was capable of helping, and to finally listen to her when she had an idea. And Tim had said he was glad he could run ideas by someone without having to worry about her telling the senator that his ideas were too radical or that he wasn't up to the job.
     Her father shrugged and gave her his own practiced smile. "Some of my co-sponsors are wondering if we should shelve the idea for more study, but Tim has some polling that says retreating might do more harm than good. I'm not worried. Tim and the others have a plan to make this all come together."
     "If you need me--"
     Her father held up his hand as the phone rang. The phone was always ringing. "I'll catch this on my way to the office." He looked at Diana and gave her a tense smile. "Your mother left a note for you on the counter. You can help by making sure you're ready when she comes to pick you up. I need everything to be perfect if we're going to turn this around." Then, before she could say anything, her father put the phone to his ear and said, "Larry, I'm glad you called . . ." as he disappeared into the house.
     Diana hurried after him, but he didn't bother to look back. A minute later, Diana heard the front door slam behind him as he left before she could remind him that she needed a ride. And when she read her stepmother's note, she knew she wasn't going to get one from her, either.

           Diana dear,
           I'll be home to pick you up at four. Wear the blue satin dress hanging in your closet and leave your hair down. Please be on time. Tonight is very important to all of us.

     She stared at the letter.
     Be on time.
     Leave your hair down.
     Tonight is important.
     But, clearly, driving Diana to school today was not.
     She turned the bracelet on her arm again, looked at her stepmother's words one more time, hearing each of them ringing in her head along with all the other things she'd said over the years.
     "Keep your opinions to yourself, Diana." Because they might differ from what she was supposed to think. And that wasn't allowed.
     "Remember that we're counting on you."
     Yes. They were.
     Diana headed back upstairs to the antique toy chest in the corner of her room. Quickly, she dumped the decorative pillows and extra blanket stacked on top onto the floor, then lifted the lid. She pulled out two bags. In the side pocket of one of the bags, she found the list she'd made for herself a few weeks ago and put it in her pocket.
     A quick glance at the clock told her she'd better get going or she'd be late for the yearbook meeting. Yesterday she'd moved the meeting to two hours earlier than originally scheduled. She doubted anyone would be thrilled that she'd asked them to change their plans simply to make them wait.
     Diana turned, took one last look in the mirror and saw what her family wanted her to be. What she had tried so hard to pretend to be.
     Perfect. Someone everyone expected to do the right thing and no one would ever suspect of doing something wrong.
     Booting up her computer, she sent a quick message to Tim, telling him that she was going to school now. Then Diana carefully picked up her bags and headed downstairs and out the door. Her father thought the only contribution he needed from her was for her to nod and smile and look flawless--like their family was supposed to be. She was determined to prove him wrong.

Excerpted from Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Seven students trapped in their school after a bomb goes off must fight to survive while also discovering who among them is the bomber in this provocative new thriller from the author of the New York Times bestselling Testing Trilogy. Perfect for fans of This Is Where It Ends. A congressman's daughter who has to be perfect. A star quarterback with a secret. A guy who's tired of being ignored. A clarinet player who's done trying to fit in. An orphaned rebel who wants to teach someone a lesson. A guy who wants people to see him, not his religion. They couldn't be more different, but before the morning's over, they'll all be trapped in a school that's been rocked by a bombing. When they hear that someone inside is the bomber, they'll also be looking to one another for answers. Told from multiple perspectives, Time Bomb will keep readers guessing about who the bomber could be--and what motivated such drastic action.

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