Three Bullets

Three Bullets

By Author / Illustrator

Melvin Burgess

Genre

Representation & Inclusion

Age range(s)

14+

Publisher

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN

9781839130502

Format

Hardback

Published

01-07-2021

Synopsis

The Bloods are in control and they're desperate to turn Britain into the world they want to see: right, white, Christian supremist. Anyone who they call abnormal is a target. Amidst the chaos of civil war the country is on the move as small militia groups fight each other and a sea of refugees escapes the cities and the pursuing Bloods. When her home is destroyed in a bombing raid, Marti must strike out on a mission of her own - to save her father and get his vital software into the right hands. But Marti is mixed race and trans and has her young brother in tow. Crossing into enemy territory could prove suicidal. Yet Marti's enemies haven't reckoned with her indomitable will to survive - and the gun she carries, which has three bullets ....


Q&A with author Melvin Burgess

Reviews

HELEN

Three Bullets certainly has a lot going on. The main focus is war. The bloods (white supremacists) are trying to take over Britain. They will either kill anyone that they consider to be abnormal, or they will brain washing them into thinking that they are worthless and white's rule. There are mentions of depression, transgender, child abuse, racism, gangs, war, rape, prostitution, homophobia, fascism etc. Originally, I was confused with the time period. Thinking it was set during World war I but as it went on, modern day things kept creeping in. When Beyonce was mentioned, I turned to the blurb on the back of the book and it states that it is actually set in Britain in the near future.


Marti (Martina) has to go on the run with her younger brother, Rowan (3) and Maude, her school bully who her father took in after her parents had been killed. Her original plan is to run off to Amsterdam by herself abandoning Rowan and Maude. However, Marti’s Dad has created a program that can cure the brainwashing that the Bloods are doing. However, this software is hidden in a mobile phone that her father left her with, and it needs to be taken south so that it can be reproduced and tested.


Travelling is extremely difficult during this time. The Bloods are moving north and are torturing and murdering anyone who goes against their 'white' agenda. There are bombs, shootings, gangs, refugees trying to find safety. Marti is mixed race which makes it even more difficult. If the bloods find her, they will kill her. Together they face everything you could imagine. They are forced to strip, Maude prostitutes herself to raise funds for food and Rowan loses the top of his finger.


Marti is also constantly battling with herself. She is transgender and has suffered badly with depression in the past. She constantly tells the reader that we shouldn’t like her and that she is horrible. She hates her brother and finds it difficult to bond with him. She argues with practically everyone she meets. She’s blunt and rude and doesn’t seem to care about anyone except her and on occasion, her father. She often comes across as being childish and spoilt and she certainly wouldn’t apologise to anyone. Certain parts of this book reminded me of the TV series 'The Walking Dead'. Having to keep moving and never being safe. Looking out for different gangs who can be brutal. Torturing innocent people, torturing young children to get reactions from adults.


This book is also distasteful and often offensive, making rape/kidnapping/torturing jokes. For me personally, the language is an issue. There is a large amount of fowl language, and not it’s used often. I felt uncomfortable reading it for this reason and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under 16 for this reason. I don’t think there is a need for these words to be used. They make the reader dislike the characters further, rather than emphasise a point or show extreme emotion. I think milder words could have been used. The main story line is a great idea, but it needs to be toned down. I would also have liked a bit of back story to explain how this all happened.


240 pages / Reviewed by Helen Sturcbecher

Suggested Reading Age 14+

Lucy

The Bloods are in control and they're desperate to turn Britain into the world they want to see: right, white, Christian supremist. Anyone who they call abnormal is a target. Amidst the chaos of civil war, the country is on the move as small militia groups fight each other and a sea of refugees escapes the cities and the pursuing Bloods. When her home is destroyed in a bombing raid, Marti must strike out on a mission of her own - to save her father and get his vital software into the right hands. But Marti is mixed race and trans and has her young brother in tow. Crossing into enemy territory could prove suicidal. Yet Marti's enemies haven't reckoned with her indomitable will to survive - and the gun she carries, which has three bullets . . .


You know when there is talk of a Melvin Burgess novel that it’s going to be blunt, hard hitting and straight to the point and this was most definitely no exception. In Three Bullets, you have a worryingly disturbing setting in that of a dystopian and bigoted war-torn England where you find yourself brutally thrown in head first. Following the bombing of her home and the apparent death of her mother, you next meet Marti who plans to leave England for Amsterdam. Initially Marti is arrogant and frustrating and to not to put to fine a point on it, unlikeable. The 'Bloods' are moving north, torturing and wiping out anyone who isn't white and who doesn't fit in and follow their agenda; Marti, along with her 'adopted' sister Maude and her little brother are determined to survive.


This is definitely a novel for your more mature 14+ students as it deals with a myriad of uncomfortable themes; abuse, sexism, racism, homophobia, fascism to name just a few. Perhaps read it first before you put it confidently on your library shelves, but I am sure that your older students will race through it and thoroughly enjoy it. As with any novel by Melvin Burgess, it is captivating, clever, shocking and written in his own inimitable style. Honestly? I personally really wanted to love it so much more than I did but it definitely is an incredibly intelligent novel.


240 pages / Reviewed by Lucy Georgeson, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+

Helen

Three Bullets certainly has a lot going on. The main focus is war. The bloods (white supremacists) are trying to take over Britain. They will either kill anyone that they consider to be abnormal, or they will brain washing them into thinking that they are worthless and white's rule.


There are mentions of depression, transgender, child abuse, racism, gangs, war, rape, prostitution, homophobia, fascism etc.


Originally, I was confused with the time period. Thinking it was set during World war I but as it went on, modern day things kept creeping in. when Beyoncé was mentioned, I turned to the blurb on the back of the book and it states that it is actually set in Britain in the near future.


Marti (Martina) has to go on the run with her younger brother, Rowan (3) and Maude, her school bully who her father took in after her parents had been killed. Marti's original plan is to run off to Amsterdam by herself, abandoning Rowan and Maude. However, Marti's Dad has created a program that can cure the brainwashing that the Bloods are doing. This software is hidden in a mobile phone that her father left her with, and it needs to be taken south so that it can be reproduced and tested. Travelling is extremely difficult during this time. The Bloods are moving north and are torturing and murdering anyone who goes against their 'white' agenda. There are bombs, shootings, gangs, refugees trying to find safety. Marti is mixed race which makes it even more difficult. If the bloods find her, they will kill her. Together they face everything you could imagine. They are forced to strip, Maude prostitutes herself to raise funds for food, Rowan loses the top of his finger.


Marti is also constantly battling with herself. She is transgender and has suffered badly with depression in the past. She constantly tells the reader that we shouldn't like her and that she is horrible. She hates her brother and finds it difficult to bond with him. She argues with practically everyone she meets. She's blunt and rude and doesn't seem to care about anyone except herself and on occasion, her father. She often comes across as being childish and spoilt and she certainly wouldn't apologise to anyone.


Certain parts of this book reminded me of the TV series 'The Walking Dead'; having to keep moving and never being safe; looking out for different gangs who can be brutal; torturing innocent people, torturing young children to get reactions from adults. This book is also distasteful and often offensive, making rape/kidnapping/torturing jokes.


For me personally, the language is an issue. There is a large amount of foul language, and it's used often. I felt uncomfortable reading it for this reason and wouldn't recommend it to anyone under 16 for this reason. I don't think there is a need for these words to be used. They make the reader dislike the characters further, rather than emphasise a point or show extreme emotion. I think milder words could have been used. The main story line is a great idea, but it needs to be toned down. I would also have liked a bit of back story to explain how this all happened.


240 pages / Reviewed by Helen Sturcbecher, school librarian


Pupils reviews:


Unnecessary use of language. I didn't like the way the characters spoke to each other. The characters are not likable, and I think this should be a book for adults.


Gwil


I liked the story, but the racism was a bit much. Maybe it could have been the English against the other British Nations. Or futuristic gangs? There was also nothing to suggest how the war started.


Isla


Not my normal type of book. It has a lot of issues within it, including homophobia, transgender, rape, war, murder etc which I think was a bit too much to write about all together.


Alice

Suggested Reading Age 14+

 

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