By Paul Dowswell

Shortlisted in Secondary category 2016

1. Anaya: This is the first time I’ve read a book by ‘Paul Dowswell’, and overall I quite enjoyed the book. Considering, I don’t really enjoy reading books around war. I think this book was actually a great opportunity to read something different. My favourite character would probably be the main character, Harry Friedman, as he seems to seek adventure and is brave. He comes across as a good man, due to his willingness to fight for his country; in addition to this he is only seventeen.

My favourite part of the book was when the mechanics open up the shell, when returning to base to find a note from a slave worker in the German factories wishing the Allies well. I also found Harry’s reaction to those around him quite intriguing as the description was in an immense amount of detail.

What I also found fascinating about the book and Paul Dowswell himself was how he linked realistic historic events to the book. For example when the shell had deliberately sabotaged as it actually happened during World War II. This made me want to find out more behind the history of the book, author and World War II. But the story itself was not at all weighed down by the careful research. The odds of surviving a bombing were slim; however Dowswell gave a real sense of mayhem and panic in a bid to defend against the German fighters.

I would definitely recommend this book to those who like reading about war, those who specifically enjoy history and those who like feeling tension in a book. Overall, id rate this book a 4/5 as it was genuinely a gripping storyline and was different to all other books about war. Maybe if you’re like me and do not necessarily read about war, you may actually find yourself enjoying the book as much as me.

2. Shreya: Seventeen-year-old Harry Freidman was the gunner of the Macey May, an American flying fortress stationed in East Anglia. Shortly after a fraught first training mission, Harry and his crew were assigned to bomb factories in the heart of Nazi Germany, and face terrible odds against ever returning. Having weathered treacherous levels of fog, they found themselves being attacked by enemy rockets. When their engines caught fire and they lost some of his crew, Harry was forced to make a parachute jump. Harry landed near a farm in France, where members of the resistance came to his aid. At the farm, Harry was reunited with a fellow survivor of his crew, Lieutenant Stearley, and a network of resistance members who told them how to escape: they were to journey through Nazi-occupied France and then return to their English base via the English Consulate in Bilbao, Spain.  After making their way to Paris, Harry and Stearley were met by the shrewd, Natalie. But Stealey’s arrogance puts their life in danger when, he left their hideout and punched German solider. Its wasn’t long before a squad of Wehrmant soldiers came to their apartment and they were forced to escape across the roofs of Paris, eventually finding safety in the town of Le Mans. Shortly afterwards Natalie’s controller in the resistance shot Stearley for putting their lives at risk.   

Natalie and Harry travelled to Boudeaux alone. They came across another safe house and there they met Walter before travelling towards the Spanish border. At this point, Natalie left the US serviceman in the care of an elderly man called Minguel who escorted them to the border through bear-occupied pine forests. But, as their feet touched Spanish soil, Walter revealed strong fascist-sympathies and pulled a gun on Harry and Minguel. In amazing timing, a Spanish guard who used to live in America saved them and drove Harry to safety in Bilbao. Three weeks later he was back at his base in England. Although he was discharged from active service, Harry determined to return to England to train others once his leave was up.

Bomber is a gripping story about a young man who was forced by exceptional circumstances to grow up fast. It also gives incredible insights into daily lives and dangers faced by men in active services in WW2 and members of the French resistance. More broadly, the novel makes you want to discuss the important issues around war and life under occupation, such as how war brings out extremities of human behaviour. The novel also explains types of heroism and courage.                                           

The book is strongly characterised historical novel that’s packed with fascinating period detail. It vividly shows a range of WW2 experiences, from what it might have been like to serve in the US air force, to how it might have been like to be living in Nazi-occupied France. The third person narrative largely explores Harry’s point of view, through the range of opinions and experiences are explored through different characters and brought to life through the true to life dialogue. The meticulous pacing and plotting makes Bomber both a gripping page-turner and a carefully considered account of a historical period of time. What I really liked about the book was the couple of last pages. As I and many other people love WW2 air-crafts, it was nice to see a picture of the Macey May and what was in it. I actually found out a lot of history from this book. Finding the theme was quite easy, as soon as I got into the book I realised straight away. It was amazing how Paul Dowswell was able to use how the life was like in WW2 into something else. The book really encouraged me to go out there and read more about the life in WW2. The one thing, I got annoyed about in the whole book was that it was quite difficult to read. For every chapter, I had to go back and read it again. For other people it might be different but I think for my age group it would be a bit difficult. Apart from that, it was an amazing book. If I were to pick another history novel, I think I would pick another of Paul Dowswell books.

3. Jamie: I found this book enjoyable and very realistic. Throughout the story, the author portrayed how dangerous it was to fly bombing missions and the consequences for mistakes. It also included real bombing missions that tied in with the plot. I liked how it focused on a particular bomber crew and how each person had a different role to keep the aircraft going. But I did find the end half of the book a bit less exciting and not very paced. A large part of the story was the downed airmen staying in safe houses with not much else going on. Overall I think the book correctly shows the danger and adventure of American bomber crews in the Second World War and tells a realistic story in a thrilling and entertaining way.

4. Elliot: I really enjoyed this book. I love war stories and this was really exciting. I liked how it showed both the excitement and the danger involved with being a bomber during The Second World War. I also really liked that it was set in East Anglia as that is where I live. I thought the book was realistic based on what I have learnt in my history lessons so far and I definitely want to read more from the author in the future.

5. Amy: This was a historically convincing book which was good but not totally absorbing. I liked the realistic fear that  was brought across by the author because one can only imagine the horrific anticipation o flying into enemy territory. Although it was sad that many characters died, it made the book more interesting and true. I did not totally like the way the book was written: the language was not so great, but the storyline was powerful, showing how people sacrificed their lives to help others in the war but also how battle divided people and ruined humanity’s peace. Resistance workers like Natalie were so brace and practical even on the edge of the cliff of death. I particularly like the ending because Harry, the main character, discovered that the pilot that he thought was dead was alive and that his girlfrield stayed true to him, never believed he was dead.

6. Gabriel:  Bomber, by Paul Dowsell, is a very well written, intriguing book that follows a young American pilot from the United States of America Air Force, Harry Freidmen, through his emotional, action packed missions with his crew on the 'Macey May', a B-17 heavy bomber aircraft. In this book, you share the emotions and feelings Harry has to go through, from arriving in Kirkstead, England for the first time, and his bomb raids abroad.

I personally love the book, as it was fun to travel with Harry around Europe,as he shares his deepest emotions, which really impacts the readers thoughts, as you truly understand what it is like to be a REAL pilot, not just some stereotypical hero from a movie.

'Bomber' is a book based in England in the middle of World War II. It is strongly connected to World War II, especially the aviation aspect of it. Straight after finishing the book, it inspired me to delve deeper into aviation in World War II, like the Battle of Britain, The Blitz, and other air raids.

Sadly, I would only recommend this book to people who have a basic understanding of the history of World War II and/or aviation. This is because this book may be quite confusing to some readers, as it used quite a lot of historic jargon and doesn't really explain it. For example, The Luftwaffe is one of the words that is used in the book that isn't explained. As well as this, I think some aviation terms can be quiet confusing, as I had to look up some of the words in a dictionary.

Overall, I think Bomber is an amazing book, which really delves deep into the readers emotions, as it keeps me reading for hours, and makes me more curious and interested about World War II.

7. Owain: Bomber is a great idea that has been written to perfection. It is about an USAAF airman called Harry Friedman, his friends and comrades aboard the B-17 bomber the Macey-May during the Second World War. They are shot down over France on a bombing raid and many of the crew are killed but Harry and his friend Stearley make it to the ground alive and we join them on their quest to get back to their airbase in Britain.

I would recommend this book to people who are intrigued in the battle for air supremacy during the Second World War. I may also offer it to people who just want a good read.

I loved how in the book I got attached to the characters and when they started to die I felt like I had lost a friend or a missed them later on. I also love that there was real events mixed in such as the Memphis Belle when it completed its final mission.

I thought that the historical element was really good in the book because it was quite accurate and at the end the author cleared up any things that weren’t correct.

I would love to read more from Paul Downsel because in all honesty this would be in my top ten list of books. I would love to find out more about bombing raids in the Second World War because I found it very intriguing.

I would rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

8. Owen: I really enjoyed this book because I thought it was very historically accurate and it was very exciting. I particularly like the character Captain Holberg who was very caring and considerate towards his crew members and stuck up for them if they ever got in trouble.

I think the history in the book was realistic; it was set in 1943 in Kirkstead, England. The American allies have their base set up there and the main character is 17 year old Harry Friedman. He is part of the crew of Macey May and Holberg is their captain. It is a very good story and it is thrilling as, on the front cover it says “One in five never returned”. That is what made me want to read it.

It does make me want to find out more about history, especially WW2 and I also want to read more books by this author because he writes very good novels and I want to read just more than one of them.

Once again this book is one of the best books I have ever read and it is extremely gripping so I would like to delve into the life of people in WW2 and how they coped with thousands of people dying around the world a week.

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