Fear Week is a YA book that has a unique setting during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. It makes you think of how much the world has changed in the last 50 years but at the same time it makes you acknowledge how timeless teenage problems are.
My Recap :
Set over a single week, this book is Adrian’s thoughts and fears and daily life during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. He has all the normal worries and problems of a 14 year old boy however he also has to cope with the very real possibility of nuclear war breaking out.
My thoughts :
I think you can break this book into four parts and I had different reactions to all of them.
1. The Cuban Missile Crisis – this is a setting I haven’t come across in a book before. I knew vaguely what this was about however I can now say I’m a lot more informed as to what exactly was going on during this period.
2. Science and Science Fiction – Adrian loves science fiction books and is obsessed with thoughts of robots and space travel. He is also starting to wonder more about science and trying to get his head around how things work. For example electricity which is relatively new. This part of the book didn’t work so well for me as it’s an interest I don’t share and I found myself skimming these sections of the book.
3. The setting in Northern England – I felt the setting came across as drap and dreary. Where Adrian lives there is evidence of bomb damage from the second world war and life in his town seems boring and mundane with limited possibilities. As this was Adrian’s feelings (and his mother’s also) to where he lived, I feel this was well captured however it adds a gloomy tone to the book.
4. That period of time in a teenage life where you are stuck in that in-between stage. Half boy/half man in this case. Where you want to be taken seriously and not treated as a child. Where your body is doing all kinds of embarrassing things and you seem to have no control over it. This part of the book I enjoyed, particularly as it was told from a male pov and by a male author so it feels realistic.
I liked Adrian who is bookish, thoughtful, obsessed with thoughts of sex and starting to realise that adults don’t have all the answers. It must have been such a scary time, waiting for the news to see the updates, knowing that the world could change in an instant but at the same time just getting on with daily life.
The routine parts of life such as school and homework suddenly seem so unimportant to Adrian. He can’t understand why adults aren’t panicking more or why they are not fleeing their coastal town to somewhere safer. You get a good insight to how confusing and scary this time must have been especially to anyone with an enquiring mind like Adrian had.
The life of a teenage boy is captured with some humour especially his crushes, his first kiss, his bodily malfunctions during school. I wouldn’t say the book is a laugh a minute as it does cover other serious themes but I definitely did laugh a few times at the predicaments Adrian found himself in. I think this passage really captures how confused you are about yourself as a teenager when you are still trying to find who you really are in a rapidly changing world.
“He wondered about his several personalities. There was one he had at home, where he was treated as a mischievous lad, chasing his sisters and being chased by them around the house. In bed at night with his torch and book, or walking alone to school, he was quiet and thoughtful, sometimes lonely. At school, he had his endless wary, alert and slightly aggressive personality, prone to gossip. Now, more recently, he had taken to crude conversation and sometimes hysteria.”.
I would say also that Adrian was quite naive however this is probably more due to the time period that this book is set in. For example he was unaware of homosexuality which made me laugh a bit. I can’t imagine any 14 year nowadays being as innocent as that.
Overall this was an interesting read but the science parts made it drag a little for me. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the rather drab setting though it does add an authentic feel to the book.
Who should read Fear Week?
I think if you like male pov YA books, if you have an interest in science or science fiction (especially historical science fiction as seen in the 1960s) or if you enjoy situational based novels then you should like this one. I also think male readers may enjoy the book more than I did as they will identify more with Adrian in a way that I wouldn’t be able to.
Thanks to the author for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.