In my family we have a rule that if you start reading a book and don’t like it, you have to read the first hundred pages anyway, just in case it improves.
The One and Only Jack Chant by Rosie Borella
I was put in this position with The One and Only Jack Chant. In the first few chapters, I was faced with a whiny, self-centred and quite frankly annoying protagonist. All this was made worse by the fact that the quote on the front promised me that Amber, the protagonist, was ‘the best kind of heroine’. Admittedly, I have no patience with protagonists, but it really was enough for me to want to put the book down and get on with something better. However, the hundred page rule didn’t allow that – I pushed on somewhat reluctantly.
Oh, but the character development was beautiful!
Eighty pages in, I was hooked on Amber’s story. It was worth my persistence – Amber did become a hero in her own quiet right, and I began to feel that she was a character I could really relate to. The One and Only Jack Chant became a highly enjoyable read, and the added mystery of the ghostly visitor kept me on my toes as Amber uncovered the secret motives of both her living and supernatural coworkers.
I would recommend the story of Jack and Amber to readers aged around 12-14.
Cracked by Clare Strathan
I had no need of the hundred page rule in this excellent novel. Clover, who is a bit out-there as a result of her mother’s out-there parenting, is in high school and negotiating the hardships of being a teenager. She is a realistic character who is only just beginning to discover the depths of herself. Sure, she’s broken, but when her best and only friend betrays her, her mother’s controlling becomes too much and her old dog is facing his last days, what else could be expected?
Across a few nights of mayhem, Clover shows the reader exactly what else. Despite her quirks and flaws, her strength and determination shine through, making her story a pleasure to read.
One of the things that I particularly loved about this book was that not only does it promote environmental activism, but it also talks about sex in a way that empowers young girls to make their own decisions, regardless of pressures.
Cracked is ideal for young adult readers, aged from 15 and up.
The Vanishing Moment by Margaret Wild
The hundred page rule didn’t really apply to The Vanishing Moment as it is quite a short novel – even if I didn’t like it from the get-go, by the time I reached the one hundred page mark I may as well have just finished it. Fortunately, it was a great read.
The cover asks ‘If you could live a different version of your life, would you take the chance?’ My answer was no, but the girls in this story made me look at that question through different eyes. As an older sister, Marika’s story particularly pulled at my heartstrings.
Two different plot-lines were cleverly interwoven in this novel, adding a challenge for the reader as they try to figure out where the two stories are going to meet. Overall, it was a very cleverly written book, aimed at ages 13 and up.
Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy
Frank has been in a car crash, but he can’t remember a thing. There are strangers leaning over his hospital bed and the person who faces him in the mirror is just as unknown.
Back at work, he discovers that pre-crash Frank wrote the terms and conditions for his brother’s legal company, and it seems to be the only thing he can remember how to do. However, he soon learns that things have a way of coming back to bite you, and his life becomes a tangle of terms and conditions.
As his memory gradually returns, Frank discovers that life really is all about the details.
Terms & Conditions is an excellent read for people aged 18 and over. (WARNING: Contains a sex scene described in graphic detail.)