Monday, 25 November 2013
Review: The Last Minute by Eleanor Updale
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Released: January 3rd, 2013
9.21am: business as usual on a high street in England. 9.22am: the explosions are heard for miles around, and in the early confusion there is talk of a gas leak, a plane crash, and even terrorism . . . The people of Heathwick had been preparing for Christmas unaware that many would die, and the rest would be transformed for ever. Travel with them, second-by-second, through the hopes, fears, love, worries, gossip, cruelty, kindness and trivia that dominated their final minute before tragedy struck. And in the everyday story of an ordinary street, look for clues to what happened, and why.
The Last Minute is, at times, a hard book to read. It tells the story of a quiet high street and its inhabitants going about their everyday lives, one minute before a huge explosion changes everything. Each chapter is one second of that minute, as the countdown nears its grisly end. It's sad and is made that much worse because we get to know everyone.
I loved how The Last Minute was written, kind of like the TV show 24 but working in seconds rather than hours. A lot happened in those seconds which obviously couldn't have really happened in such a short pinch of time, but I like the idea and the format anyway. I was apprehensive to get to the end because I knew what was coming right from the beginning.
This book shows how one minute can change everything, and how every action can have a consequence and can then set off a chain of disastrous events. Even though the book is quite short and only covers one minute, Eleanor Updale wrote in such a way that by the end I felt like I knew every single person at that high street. The inclusion of maps and newspaper articles adds an extra touch of realism, and it soon becomes apparent that a tragedy like this could happen anywhere.
The Last Minute is a quick read - I read it all in one sitting - but it isn't by any means an easy one. It's poignant and sad, and made me want to appreciate every minute of my life. It's the first of Eleanor Updale's books I've read, though I'm sure it won't be my last. She's certainly caught my attention with this one!