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Humour and wry insight
on September 13, 2012
When an intimate suburban wedding is interrupted by an armed woman wearing a gas mask, wedding gown and steel toed boots, the guests assume it is a joke. Only as the woman confiscates their mobile phones and explains the back door is wired with explosives does the reality of the surreal situation set in. The terrorist has a single demand, she wants a simple, heartfelt apology from 'one particular piece of shit', but no one in the crowd knows who that may be. In an effort to placate her a handful of guests confess their sins while a clutch of psychiatrists analyse her behaviour and the groom's grandfather, Colonel Delbert Billips Snr (ret.) attempts to take charge. As the hostages flounder, Helen the mother of the bride and host of the wedding, seems to be the only one the HT (Hostage Taker) is inclined to confide in, revealing the tale of pain and heartbreak that sparked the unusual siege and the woman's plans for Helen's guests.
Probably best described as tragi-comedy, Love Bomb is a satirical examination of relationships, parenthood, sex, obsession, heartbreak and loss. Zeidner explores the drama of the hostage situation with a healthy dose of humour and wry insight as the crowd deals with the absurdity of their situation.
Carefully developing empathy for her characters even as she mocks them, Zeidner reveals the complicated nuances of the cast's relationships with others and with themselves. The omniscient viewpoint invites the reader to observe the lovelorn hostage taker, the pompous thrice married father of the bride, the celebrity guest, the hysterical teenage caterer, the African Muslim polygamist and the man wounded by his divorce and custody issues amongst others whose personal histories are mined for awkward truths and well kept secrets.
I have to admit I found my interest wavering in parts of Love Bomb, a little overwhelmed by the huge cast of characters whose relayed stories have varying degrees of relevance to the situation they are in. At the every end of the novel is a guest list, something I feel would have been more appropriate and useful to provide at the beginning. There is very little dialogue and not much in the way of action through the middle of the story which I find tiring to read and the pacing suffers for it. Unusually the author provides an epilogue to the story, revealing what happened to many of the primary characters in the months after the siege which was an element I appreciated.
I find myself fairly ambivalent about Love Bomb, I didn't dislike it but neither can I find much enthusiasm for it. I think it would most strongly appeal to readers who enjoy social satire and observational comedy.