Love Bomb: A Novel
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 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.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I saw Ms. Zeidner read at Book Court (Brooklyn). I have no association with the writer. I read Love Bomb over the weekend, and enjoyed it very much.

After her book reading the writer explained that she writes about people who are right on the margin between being functional and stark raving mad. She wants to give an alternative view of what relationships feel like. Instead of pandering to Oprah with themes of redemption, she wants things to be messy, ironic, and absurd. She certainly succeeded in this rich and entertaining novel.

The book is about a group of wedding guests taken hostage by a suburban "terrorist." One thing I liked was the way she let the crowd's consciousness of their captivity sink in slowly for maximum comedic effect. After they finally heard the click of the padlock, it was funny to see the therapists in the group try to size up the hostage taker (HT) and utter the appropriate words to disarm her. From there the writer goes on to explore the reactions and personal histories of the bride and groom (who met in Africa while serving with Doctors Without Borders), of a diverse group of guests, and of the HT.

To give a taste of one of these personal histories, I enjoyed the chapter starting on page 71 where Simon Nathanson describes a scene from his marriage that "spelled the beginning of the end." The chapter begins, "First comes love. Then comes marriage. Simon knew what came next, and unlike his wife, he was able to foresee the consequences." Since both his and his wife's childhoods had been LONG and miserable, how could she "imagine her children's lives as catching fireflies on a summer night, all glimmer and possibility." He felt that there was too short a time before "the little spoiled fxxxxxs were benched and exhorted to buckle down." And as for the parents, "the job of the school was to punish the parents for being able to afford to live in Eden..." This all culminates with an incident where Simon is caught heaving an axe at a dead rabbit on Halloween.

The writer said that she likes ensemble-type movies, and this book has about sixty characters. It would have been helpful to tip off the reader to the fact that there is a guest list on page 254 that is helpful in following the players. I noticed the Guest List only after reading the whole book, and got confused in a few places.

I recommend this book for its humor and its insightful portrayal of suburban life. The writer did research on mental illness and police procedure, and the work also contains some interesting facts and observations on those subjects.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Lisa Zeidner, in her new novel-of-manners, "Love Bomb", tells almost two parallel stories, which come together in the end. "The Wedding" is the longer one, but mixed into it is "Emotions", and together they form "Love Bomb". Tess and Gabe, who both belong to the "new American families" so common these days, with step-parents and step-siblings galore, are getting married. She's from a conventional mixed marriage - Christian/Jewish, while he is from a double-mixed marriage - Jewish/Christian, black/white. And they have all sorts of relatives and friends gathering at Tess's mother's house in the affluent New Jersey town of Haddonfield. There are plenty of mental health professionals - meaning mostly psychiatrists - on both sides of the wedding party. Some of the funniest moments in the book is the interaction between the shrinks during the hostage crisis.

Okay, the "hostage crises". Strange thing to pair with a suburban wedding, but Zeidner does it with great success. The wedding, being held in the mother-of-the-bride's great room on a hot summer Saturday, is invaded by a wedding dress wearing-gun toting woman. She lines everybody up in the room, old people down to babies, and precedes to hold the 60 or guests hostage. She's booby-trapped the doors and windows of the house and claims she's wearing a bomb. Who is she and what does she want? Zeidner gradually reveals all to the reader and brings "The Wedding" and "Emotions" together.

Much of "Love Bombs" is self-confession by various members of the wedding party and their guests. Secrets are confessed, and alliances and allegiances are changed as those secrets are revealed. Even the police involved in the hostage siege have connections with the wedding participants. Zeidner gives all her characters identities that are as nuanced as any I've read. It's a little difficult to keep track of the 20 or so main characters, but not too bad. And Zeidner does something at the end of her book that I don't see too often. She uses the final chapter to tie up loose ends and the reader learns what happens to the characters.

I'm giving the book four stars instead of five (though I may come back and change it to five) because the book has several printing mistakes; characters have different names in different parts of the book. Also, the story really is slightly preposterous. But charmingly so. Zeidner has brought together people from all walks of life and geographic areas to make a story of a wedding day that really changes the lives - and loves - of the participants.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 11, 2012
Weddings; we love them, we hate them. Tess and Gabe's wedding guests are going to be a bit more than the usual stories of drunken groomsmen, fighting inlaws or ring bearers that steal the show-oh yes, quite a bit more. While moving the scheduled backyard wedding inside to the dated great room of Tess's divorced mom due to rain showers might have been par for the course, the uninvited wedding guest who makes her appearance in combat boots, wedding gown with gas mask and veil was out of the ordinary. Especially when she came toting a rifle and "rescheduled" events.

What ensues is a contemporary take on "Canterbury Tales" as each wedding guest struggles to provide the apology demanded by the terrorist in the opening scenes. Since the room is filled with psychologists, serial divorcees and B tier tv stars, there are many options for confession, remorse and possible redemption. In between, Helen, the bride's mother navigates the emotional rapids to keep a certain level of calm, the young, ill and elderly tended to and maneuver the uninvited guest into giving up when the police finally are alerted by one of the escaped wedding guests.

Multiple opportunities are offered to get in licks on suburbia, psychology, Hollywood, the double standard of contemporary sex, and other machinations of current life. Ms. Zeidner has taken names and is brooking no hostages of her own.

Who is the catalyst for the wedding crasher's actions? Given the multiple sources for emotional meltdown from the guest roster, it's not who or what you might think and the conclusion gives a nice twist to the tale. Read if you enjoy giving convention a nudge to the ribs.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2012
Starting with a terrific, offbeat premise worthy of Christopher Moore -- the amusing interruption of a home wedding by a bridal gown-dressed, fully armed woman -- the novel devolves into a series of lengthy backgrounders on several of the guests and the hostage taker herself. The quick pace of the setup is so much fun and full of social satire promise, it's really disappointing to watch the book slow to a crawl that never gets back up to speed. Though sprinkled with some genuinely witty and insightful passages, overall "Love Bomb" is a dud.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was really suspenseful and lead to a good pay-off. The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five is because I didn't really like the ending. We got all this information about what happened to characters that we barely met but some of the main characters got just a few sentences. Why do I need to know that a random wedding guest realized he was gay? He was barely in the book! I thought the ending could have focused on what happened with the two primary characters and what happened with the "wedding crasher". She was clearly insane but the ending just kind of brushed over that. Other than that, though, I really liked it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2012
I'm really not sure what this book was supposed to be. I felt like it was all over the place at times. It was an OK read but don't expect greatness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2013
This novel started with an excellent premise, but it fell flat almost immediately. The relationship between the HT and Helen was unbelievable even in this unbelievable situation. And during the conflict,the background asides by the group are sad attempts at humor. I'm all for a "willing suspension of disbelief", but this novel stretched it a little too thin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2013
This cleverly written and wryly funny story of a suburban wedding interrupted by a terrorist in a bridal dress and gas mask starts off with a bang. Lots of varied and interesting characters populate the wedding party, not the least of which are a batch of pompous and self-centered psychiatrists whose grip on reality comes into question when they are actually needing to deal with a real-life threat to their lives. There's plenty given here to occupy your attention but I have to say I lost interest about two-thirds in. It must have been all the characters' stories, which individually were of interest but collectively became a drag. And I honestly skimmed through the last section altogether because by then, I didn't much care about the terrorist's story, which was something of a retelling of a plot line I'd seen and read many times over. Not sure if I'd recommend this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2013
I did not particularly like the writing style and felt the story dragged on. Others I know really liked it.
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