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The Last Minute

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  18 reviews
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 t
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 3rd 2013 by David Fickling Books
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Average rating 3.36  · 
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Some of these people only have a minute left to live.
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 im
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
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 ...more
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this in one sitting. If I didn't, I would have been totally lost when Matey finally reached the punch line of his joke.
The format and idea are very interesting, and unlike any other book I have ever read. Based off of a real event (or should I say, tragic disaster), the whole book only covers the time span of one minute. At first it was hard to keep the characters straight, but Updale's repetition of details that is seemingly redundant is actually very helpful to remember whose storyline
Samantha Mays
Feb 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
It was a very interesting premise but not interesting in its execution. There were too many characters which meant that there was no character development and no thoughtful observations on said characters and circumstances. I found that I would rather be knitting a teapot cosy in the desert. The language was very simple, perhaps it was meant for children but even then, i would hope for more eloquent phrasing. Yet I persisted, not wanting to visit the desert on a 48 degree day, wanting, needing, ...more
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 t ...more
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it

Mini-review originally posted on Nightjar's Jar of Books.

One minute life in Heathwick was completely normal, with the exception of some extremely inconvenient roadworks causing a massive traffic jam on the main road; the next minute, it was… not. A massive explosion kills sixty-five people, and injures dozens more, and speculation as to its origins run rampant. This book is a countdown, second by second, of the lives of the people in Heathwick in the minute leading up to the explosion, showing u

Jenny / Wondrous Reads
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-review
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 whi
Daisy May Johnson
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, gritty
Here's the pitch: Explosion

That's The Last Minute, hollywood-y and hooky in its conceit and unbearably tense in its delivery. This is 24 gone macro gone YA: sixty seconds, a cast of a hundred plus, and a town about to face its darkest hour. See, I can't even precis it with going all movie-voice.

It's written by Eleanor Updale, classy author of the Montmorency books, and god it's good. Written back to front as it were, with the resolution of the minute staring you right in the face, it's impossib
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Initially, I really liked the premise of this novel. Written in 'real-time', Updale's tale explores the 60 seconds leading up to an explosion that devastates a local high street claiming 65 lives. It serves to highlight both the significance and the smallness of every day humanity.

However, after a while the second-by-second stories of these victims become tedious, even banal and the tragedy almost descends into bathos. The coincidences that Updale lines up become increasingly melo-dramatic and
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down even as a sense of rising panic came over me. The story begins after a series of devastating explosions rock the High Street of a little town just outside a major airport. Each chapter then counts down the final seconds of the last minute of the lives of the people who will be affected by the explosions. Readers are exposed to intimate details of the characters' lives - their hopes, irritations, goals, failures and thoughts as they unsuspectingly go about their dai ...more
Sue Murdoch
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a brilliant way to structure a story about a disaster. By starting at the end and counting down second by second we always know what is going to happen, but we get to know the victims; this really makes you stop and consider the crushing loss of loved ones. The fact that the story is set in a typical high street and people are going about everyday activities brings home to us how precious life is and how fragile it can be: how decisions, minor incidents, seemingly unrelated in ...more
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Gill by: The Independent
Shelves: 2015, library, month-08, ya
Updale takes the 60 seconds before an explosion devastates a small English town, and expands each second, "24"-style, to introduce the characters and drip-feed information to the reader. It's cleverly done, with enough repetition to make the large cast stick in your mind and enough detail to make you start to care about their fate as the seconds tick away to disaster. ...more
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
a slow burner that builds tension and suspense throughout towards the final event. disappointing ending however ... ended very flat
Oct 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
Not gripping me. Giving up and moving on
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Fast paced action. Clever idea to tell a story second by second.
Jack Roache
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly epic book! Kept me engaged for the three hours it took to read. And the extra content available online is something to commend the author for.
Coco Chanel
rated it did not like it
Sep 25, 2014
Rehan Khan
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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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Lisa Roberts
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Dom Chaffey
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What's the Name o...: book about an explosion [s] 15 37 Oct 03, 2013 05:42PM  

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Eleanor Updale studied history at St. Anne's College, Oxford, before becoming a producer of TV and radio current affairs programmes for the BBC. Her first children's novel, Montmorency, won the Silver Smarties Prize and the Medway Book Award. ...more

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