Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton
Publishing Date: 9th January 2020
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 320
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Suspense
The extraordinary new novel everyone is talking about from the Sunday Times best-selling author of Sister
Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.
In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.
Somerset in November. It’s snowing. A rural school – a school that prides itself on being tolerant and accepting, and really being like this – surrounded by woods, and cliffs on the other side, school with theatre and pottery building, with happy children and great teachers, is under siege. There is a masked gunman on the premise who has shoot the Headmaster Matthew Marr. Some of the students dragged him into the library where they’ve barricaded themselves. Others are in their classrooms. Others in the theatre. Others in the pottery room. Police and emergency services are struggling in the snowstorm. Panicked parents arrive as the school finds itself in the lockdown. Who is responsible for the shooting? Who keeps the terrified children and staff hostages?
We are immediately dropped in the middle of action and filled with terror at the events developing in front of our eyes, and the book continues like that. There are very few flat moments, and the pace is quick and full of tension. The author for sure is not shy of raising issues that we should be aware of, that are happening for real, tackling them with gentleness and fairness.
The characters in this book were incredible, so different to what I usually read. There were many of them, so it was impossible to give the background of all of them but I still had a feeling I know them completely, the author has given us enough info, and I loved how courageous they were, both the teachers and the students. Rafi, the refugee from Aleppo, is the one who has recognised an explosion in the woods and informed the Head, ready to sacrifice everything to save his little brother Basi and his girlfriend Hannah. While Hannah is in the library, doing her best to care for the Headmaster, Basi is gone – he’s not with the younger children being evacuated from the beach. The teachers – Jacintha, who’s reading poetry with her class, Daphne – dress – rehearsing “Mackbeth”, and the one looking after the youngest children in the pottery class that is, in fact, the most vulnerable place to be right now, with a gunman pointing his gun at the children, try to preserve a degree of normalcy and my heart went to them on every single occasion, totally in awe of their bravery and them being so selfless.
It’s my first book by Rosamund Lupton and I am absolutely thrilled how well she has portrayed the characters, giving them personalities, making them human, filling them with real and genuine feelings and emotions in times that are so testing for everybody. The stories of the main characters are complex and told with fascination.
So, and now I’m not so sure if it’s really good, or maybe not, but often, quite often, I wanted to skip some of the passages simply to see what’s going to happen next. I have to admit, I skim – read the parts describing the experiences of Rafi and Basi – I know they were there to add more dramatic tension, to give the story depth, but I personally could easily live without those parts.
“Three Hours” is an addictive book, heard to put down, with a tension growing and the overwhelming feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen. The fact that the timeline for this story is so short makes it even more chilling, you can’t help but count the minutes for yourself, hoping that the police knows what to do. Because of this fact, it was really fast paced and really, guys, I hold my breath more than once and sometimes I was afraid to turn the page – you won’t be able not to feel involved in everything that’s happening. It explores all the possible feelings and emotions, is full of claustrophobic feeling, is raw and genuine and powerfully described – a tale of courage, showing how selfless and brave people can be in moments of fear and angst. Highly recommended!
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