Title: Fear Week
Author: Andrew McBurnie
Genre: Young Adult; Historical Fiction
Synopsis: Adrian Thorby is about to experience a week of embarrassing and comic incidents. But he’s scared. It’s 1962, the week of the Cuban missile crisis, and the world is threatened by nuclear war. He’s a science-fiction fan who fears he will never live to see a futuristic world of high-technology, including space travel and robots, and will never have a girlfriend. He knows he has been born into a shoddy and primitive world.
Adrian lives in Hull, a north-eastern English city still half-flattened by WW2 bombing. He assumes that with his country’s experience of intense bombing during the last war, there will be a swift introduction of emergency preparedness measures. But everyone continues with their lives as normal. Nobody prepares; Adrian begins to think the grownups must all be mad.
He is also secretly in love with a girl from another school, is troubled by sexual thoughts, and through some awkward moments begins to wonder if he really has the brains to participate in a technological future. The seven days of “Fear Week” narrate his exploits, blunders and embarrassments during the nuclear crisis, and his yearnings for the girl of his dreams. (Goodreads)
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
When it comes to historical fiction, I really like books that are set in periods that other books don’t really cover. This is the first time I’ve read about a book set during this time, and it was really interesting because I honestly don’t know a lot about the Cuban missile crisis, or about the United Kingdom in the 60s. Or about the 60s in general, aside from the cartoon-induced visions of hippies, disco, and Hairspray. But anyway, this book shows that real people can be affected by events happening far away, that (as one character said) history happens and time moves on.
The book itself focuses on the life of Adrian Thorby, and it is more about him and his growth rather than the missile crisis. However, there was one part that really struck me, where he laments about how he hates that his life may be decided by people he’s never met while they’re safe in their “underground bunkers.” Seeing how politics or war (or the possibility of war) affected the lives of Adrian’s friends and family is something that I found interesting, to see their reactions depending on what they experienced before.
Back to Adrian’s life, he goes through anything a normal teenager would experience, even in our time. Puberty, hormones, crushes on a girl he’s never even talked to, bullies, strict teachers, and family life. The world around him is different from ours, but his problems and worries aren’t different from a modern teen’s. It’s also interesting to see how people’s views have changed since then, how they used to think and treat each other compared to now.
More interesting parallels come in the form of how different generations see each other. Adrian thinks the adults are either too serious or apathetic to impending disaster or useless, without considering what they went through in World War II. His parents’ generation sees the next one as layabouts (Teddy boys) or just kids who don’t know much about the atrocities of war.
Overall: The pacing was well-done and I couldn’t really put this book down. It didn’t completely blow me away, so I give it four stars out of five. I really enjoyed reading about Adrian’s growth, his relationship to the world around him, and seeing that even if events around us change, some experiences remain constant.