Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton
Today, on The Tattooed Book, I’m reviewing the brand new novel Three Hours from the Sunday Times bestselling author, Rosamund Lupton.
No one thought it could happen at their school, not within the liberal, welcoming halls of the Victorian building in the heart of the Somerset countryside. Violence in schools only happens in stories or half the world away in the United States. But then the first gunshot rings out, and the headmaster falls to the ground, and everyone knows the nightmare has just begun.
Rafi was one of the first students to know something was wrong after seeing someone in the woods at the edge of the school campus. What many students had ignored as a random bang, he knew was an explosion. Well aware of his own PTSD from fleeing his homeland of Syria, he still rushes to warn the headmaster. After that, there are two more people on his mind, his younger brother Basi, and his girlfriend, Hannah.
After the first shot is fired and brave students drag their injured headmaster out of the hallway and into the safety of the library, they barricade themselves inside. While Rafi searches for his little brother, Hannah tends to their injured principal, using her shirt to stem his bleeding. Trapped within the confines of the library with a shooter on the other side of the door, all they can do it wait for help.
Meanwhile, another class has locked themselves in the safest part of the school, in the theatre. They all know it’s the most secure place they can be on campus, but that only raises their concerns about the other students and teachers. Before fear gets the best of the students, their drama teacher takes control of the situation and pushes them to carry on practising their latest production, Shakespeare’s Macbeth. But are they really as safe as they think?
I fell in love with Rosamund Lupton’s novel, The Quality of Silence back in 2015, so I had high hopes Three Minutes, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Each chapter of Three Minutes is titled with the time, beginning at 9.16 am, and then spread across the three hours within which the novel is set. The book opens with:
‘A moment of stillness; as if time itself is waiting, can no longer be measured. Then the subtle press of a fingertip,
whorled skin against cool metal, starts it beating again and the bullet moves faster than sound.’
These first two sentences of the book encapsulate so much about the rest of its contents; how it immediately grabs your attention and doesn’t lose pace for a moment, and just how beautifully Rosamund Lupton writes to create this incredible tension.
Thanks to some of the students having their phones on them in class, news of the attack leaks to the outside world quickly. At one point, a student is even talking to the press while the attack is ongoing, and this is when the various theories behind the attacker’s motives begin to surface. Parents begin to wonder if the school was attacked by right-wing extremists due to its open-minded reputation, maybe someone came after Rafi and his little brother because they were from Syria. Others think Rafi might be the one behind the attack.
Three Hours is a fast-paced thriller packed with characters doing their best in the worst circumstances. It’s refreshing that the focus of this novel is the victims and how they cope; it explains the motives behind the attack but doesn’t make the criminal the star of the show. Instead of producing a book focused on a hateful act, she’s created a gripping tale of love and the will to survive.
I listened to the audiobook of Three Hours which is narrated by Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones) and she was a great choice. Voices can make or break an audiobook for me, but she made the audiobook just as enjoyable as reading a physical book. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for her audio work int he future.
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton is undoubtedly going to be one of my favourite books of 2020. Fast, thrilling, beautifully written and packed with passion, you can’t ask for more from an incredible fiction novel.
If you like Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton, you’ll love The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton.
Buy your copy of Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton.