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3.9 out of 5 stars
The Last Minute
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:£10.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 8 June 2014
2013 seems to be the year for shocking contemporary novels that come out of nowhere, grab the reader by the lapels and refuse to let go until we're all inanely babbling to everybody within the surrounding area that 'YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!' The Last Minute is one of the first books I read in 2013 and, even though it's taken me a while to get my thoughts straight enough to write a review, I still remember the details like I read it yesterday. This is, simply put, one of the most incredible books I've ever read.

The premise and structure of this novel are both unique and these factors alone are enough to keep interest up from beginning to end but when you add in a fantastic cast of characters, distinctive voices and accomplished writing - you get something that feels really, really special. I'm genuinely excited by this book and I know I'll be recommending it for a long, long time to come. It has absolute crossover appeal and think boys, girls, men and women will love it - it's a tricky one to categorise because I don't think it really fits the conventions of an adult or a YA novel. But, then, I think some of the greatest novels out there appeal to everybody and are difficult to pin down.

One of the strengths of The Last Minute is how much freedom the author gives the reader to make their own decisions about key elements in the story. We start the book knowing there has been a devastating explosion on a high street in the small UK town of Heathwick, situated close to one of the country's main airports (no prizes for guessing how the name came about). Often I think knowing the ending of a book at the beginning can detract from the enjoyment, as there are no stakes, but when we know the outcome is devastating it just makes for an even more gripping read. It was in the back of my mind the whole time I was reading this one that something terrible was going to happen to the characters I was bonding it. I didn't know who would survive the explosion, or what would cause it, I just knew it would happen. I had favourite characters I was rooting for from the outset and Eleanor Updale did an amazing job of building up likable complex characters through hardly any page time. As I said before, the amount of characters involved is huge but I didn't find myself getting confused by who each chapter focused on, simply because the voice of each character and their stories were so distinctive.

Throughout The Last Minute there are major clues about a host of different disasters that could cause the explosion on Heathwick's main street. Some are clearly major incidents but then there are a few more low-key accidents that are subtly hinted at. I loved trying to figure out what was going to cause the explosion and I did find myself horribly aware that there was some major stereotyping going on with the premature conclusions I came too. It's not good but I'm going to hold my hands up and be honest. I do think the author must have been trying to prove a point with this and I'm hoping a lot of readers made the same initial judgements as me - otherwise I just feel bad as a person!

The climax of The Last Minute is staggering. I knew what was coming, I knew the seconds were ticking away but nothing could prepare me for the final pages of the book. The fact I knew the ending before I started and it still shocked me - that's a serious feat right there. After I finished the book I had to sit and process it before I could move on to read anything else. I was in complete shock, there was so much I needed to get straight in my head and I still think about this one all the time. It's a book that will truly linger with you.

I'm going to keep this last bit vague but I will say that there is a great deal of extra content with The Last Minute. I'm a huge, huge fan of extra content and what you can discover about The Last Minute after reading the book is some of the best I've ever seen. Mixed media, online content and additional information in the book is all present and the audience is truly left to draw their own conclusions, which I loved. The amount of work that must have gone into both writing The Last Minute and preparing the campaign for it is staggering and I honestly hope this review has made you tempted to read this wonderful, unique book.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 August 2013
I absolutely loved the way The Last Minute is written, it was so completely different to anything I've ever read before and I found it practically impossible to put the book down. It reminded me of the TV series 24 except instead of each episode covering an hour long time period each chapter of the story covers one second of the last minute before an explosion rocks the sleep village high street of Heathwick. You know from the prologue that something terrible is going to happen and you're left trying to piece everything together and figure out what causes the disaster.

I found myself constantly asking myself questions as I was reading - Is that person a terrorist or are they just an innocent person minding their own business? Why has that white van just been abandoned in the middle of the high street? Why are drivers such morons when there are roadworks? Why is that plane passenger refusing to turn off their mobile phone? Will the beggar get to the punchline of his joke before the explosion happens? Who is going to survive? I'm not going to answer those questions for you here but if you read the book you'll find out all of that and so much more.

I will say that it took me a couple of chapters to get into the swing of reading the story, you are introduced to a huge number of characters and it took a little while to get everyone straight in my head. Some characters have larger roles than others but it doesn't take too long to get a feel for who they all are. What I liked most was that everyone was so normal, they are everyday people who are just going about their day to day lives with no idea of what is about to happen to them. They have the same problems, thoughts, fears and dreams as the rest of us and although you don't have time to get to know them very well you do become surprisingly invested in their lives. In a way it was actually quite scary to think about how normal everything seemed until the explosion hits, very few people even noticed anything suspicious going on around them and you're watching from the sidelines with baited breath just trying to put all of the clues together.

The Last Minute is an edge of your seat read, the pacing is fast and you know that with every chapter that passes you're a second closer to disaster. I devoured this book very quickly and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from Eleanor Updale in the future. For anyone who has read the book already you really should make sure you checkout the extra information on Eleanor Updale's website. She has created all kinds of newspaper clippings and even an inquiry report to give you more information on exactly what caused the explosion and what happened in the aftermath. Whatever you do don't look at those extras before you've read the book though - it would completely spoil the story for you if you did!
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on 5 February 2013
I read a lot of books, I love reading and my measure of a good book is one that makes me want to mull it over or reread it, one that changes how I look at the world. This book did all of these, I got it yesterday I finished it by the time I was going home and spent the night thinking about it. First thing this morning I had the book out again and was also following up on the web at the website of information from Eleanor Updale. I have already stopped two people to recommend it and I will be taking it round later to show it to more people. I wasn't sure what I thought of the book when I woke this morning with the people from the book still in my mind, some aspects don't make for a comfortable read.

The whole book covers the last minute before a disaster, the chapters of the book are each second as it counts down, you get snippets in every chapter and initially that made it hard to follow, but you get so many stories, bits of lives. You care about the people so even though you know it is a count down and even with all the clues and ideas you still get a shock at the end. The epilogue helped to round all the ideas up and how it was dealt with by the media, and that is key to the whole thing. No one had all the bits, you get all the clues but you also get extras, what is relevant and what isn't and what was reported, makes you look at your own paper and wonder what is real and what is pure conjecture.

It is rare I read a book in a day, rarer still for me to go round and tell people! But this book for me is one of those rare books that fulfills my 'good book' criteria. I would have liked nice tied up ends and an easier read but that wouldn't have been this book!
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VINE VOICEon 3 May 2014
This book is targeted towards the young adult market but, along with many others in that genre, is a great read for all ages and should be considered by a much wider readership. The straight forward language makes the novel very accessible but doesn't make it in any way an "easy read".
The premise is everything that happens on a high street in a town near an airport in the last minute before a massive fatal explosion. The minute is broken down second by second and we meet a huge cast of characters going about their individual business with every small detail exposed for the story. We get to see some of the thousands of snap decisions that we make every minute of the day and understand that sometimes the consequences can be as important as life or death.
I love a map at the beginning of a book and this has a well drawn plan of the high street which was very useful to absorb all the movements.
With the unusually short time period comes the capacity for the author to go wild with her descriptions. Sometimes an action takes several seconds and so it appears in several chapters broken down in small movements. No other format if book would allow for anything to be explained in this way.
Also worthy of note are the start and end of the book where we get a feel for how the media deal with big disasters of this scale. The whole book feels scarily possible!!
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on 7 September 2013
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!
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VINE VOICEon 7 March 2017
The Last Minute takes place in Heathwick town centre, before an explosion rips the place apart, killing 65. Each second is a gradual build-up, adding to the tension of the final event. What will be the cause of the devastation and who will be its victims?

Needless to say, with a death-toll of 65, this really is a cast of thousands and you'd need to read the book in pretty much one sitting to keep a track of who everyone is. This also made it impossible to go into any depth with the characterisations, although Ms Updale did manage to produce several characters about whom I was more concerned than others, and then there were also the two magnificent carriage-horses.

At the end of the book is the newspaper reportage of the explosion, which was impossible to read on the Kindle, but there is an on-line site where it is possible to see this. (Search under the author's full name). This also completes the book by discussing the possible cause of the explosion(s).

For me, this was a clever idea that, unfortunately, didn't quite work, by the time I'd read sixty sets of one second events, I'd lost interest and certainly wasn't getting tense at the inevitable outcome.
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on 15 March 2013
Not sure what age group this was marketed for (if indeed it is aimed at a specific age group). It was both enthralling but frustrating at the same time. You knew there would be a blastin which there was multiple casualties, and there were so many potential sites and suspects for the disaster that it kept you guessing till the end.
I read it in one sitting and it was a very easy read. The online reports was a first for me and gave another dimension to the reading experience.
Felt that this was aimed more at the younger end of the market and had several lingering questions even after reading the inquest report.
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on 18 February 2013
This is brilliant!One minute before a disaster strikes a peaceful high street.It's like watching in ultra slow-motion as each frame clicks on closer to the tragedy.We know it's coming-but from which source we do not.The final minute in the lives of the many people on the street that day are captured in tiny one and two second bursts as they go about their very ordinary business unaware that the day will end so horrifically.Masterpiece!I couldn't put it down.
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on 13 January 2016
Another school book award novel. I liked it, clever concept but lots of characters and you have to remember who is who and where they are. Jumps back and forth a lot. An easy read even for 11 year olds.
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on 25 March 2017
As the clock ticks, so the tension cranks up in The Last Minute. Eleanor Updale keeps you gripped with diverse characters and their struggles As a reader I felt a strong sense of empathy and wanted to keep reading, even though we all know how the story ends. The novel is layered with subtle political commentary and a pluralistic outlook to the world, which can only be commended.
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