Rosamund Lupton

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.

Three Hours is one of my biggest reading suprises of 2020. It was late at night, I had just finished the book I was reading and I was browsing the kindle store for something fast paced. This book jumped out at me and so I dived in, not quite realising the ride it was going to be.

This is multi POV done well. The changes between perspectives never jarring as they often can be. I was desperately invested in each character from the terrified eight year old hiding and scared in the boatshed to the anguished mother searching for her teenage son.

Unsuprisingly, this is one hell of a fast paced story bursting with twists and turns. The writing is so clasutrophobic and full of tension, it transports you right into the middle of the action. Nursing your headteachers dying body whilst listening for the gunmans taunting footsteps or running for your life through the haunting woods, certain there is someone following you.

As harrowing and frantic a story as it is there is hope to be found in every corner of this school. The group of determined students hiding in the theatre carrying on with their rehearsal of Macbeth, twitter their only way of knowing whats happening outside the theatres doors or the class of junior school pupils unaware they are currently being held at gunpoint thanks to the strength and courage of their fearless teacher and, of course, the boy who has survived this before and will stop at nothing to save the ones he loves.

She thinks that consciousness is made up of silent, invisible words forming unseen sentences and paragraphs; an unwritten, unspoken book that makes us who we are.”

What took Three Hours from a four to a five star book for me was Rafi and his incredible story. The snippets we were given of Rafi and Basi’s ‘journey’ really had an impact on me and I really wish that was its own novel. The boys experiences of PTSD were authentic and the conflicting ways others reacted to them believable.

The fact that many of the issues in this story were ripped out of modern day headlines added to the emotional impact of the book. I don’t feel like any of the choices were made purely to shock people but were naturally developed decisions that stayed true to not only the characters, but real people living in the modern world who have lived similar experiences.

‘Do you think we wake up every day the same old self?’ she said. ‘Or do we have a choice but we don’t realize that? It might be just habit that makes us the same self as yesterday even if that’s not who we want to be at all?’

The stakes were really raised for the climax of the book along with a chilling sense of foreboding which left me breathless. It was so well wrapped up and although it took me a while to recover, it was definitely a five star read for me.

I’m very much looking forward to reading Rosamund Luptons other works.

Have you read Three Hours? What did you think?