Thursday, 23 June 2011

One Chance by Steve May

One Chance by Steve May
First published by Egmont in 2004 (this edition by Egmont in 2004)

Description (from Goodreads):
Jaq, is running scared. This is France, wartime, 1940. Dodging soldiers and enemy tanks, hunted by the villagers for thieving, Jaq has nowhere to hide, nowhere to shelter, no one to turn to. And then he meets Lise...Told in the manner of a traditional adventure story, Steve May's writing stands out for its pace and dynamism, and offers a wonderfully fresh and modern account of wartime France.

My thoughts:
I only picked up this book because, after 1984, I was in the mood for something much lighter and much easier to read. One Chance is a children's book, which we have had for quite a few years, but which I had not read when I was younger. 

What I got was not what I expected. This is a book that is definitely targeted to a much, much younger audience than my 21-year-old self. The good thing about this book is that, instead of focusing on the war itself, it focused on the relationships between the members of two families, when Jaq, a 15 year old thief, appears and steals a chicken from one of them. All of these events happen having the war as a background and it only seems more real as the reader reaches the end of the book. It doesn't lessen the effect of the war, as it is mentioned throughout the book; it's just that it is more real near the end. The characters are ok. I didn't feel as if I could relate to any one of them, except maybe Yvette, Lise's mother. She was a wonderful maternal figure, not afraid to stand up for her beliefs.

The one thing I really did not like about this book was the writing. I hadn't liked it even after a few pages, but it got more tiring as the book progressed. As a result, it took me 2 days to finish a 250-pages-long children's book with a relatively large font. To give you an example, this is what you can find on the back cover of the book (but it is in the same tone as most of the book):

This is France, 1940. War is approaching and Jaq is running scared. Branded as a thief. Hunted. He has nowhere to hide. No one to turn to. And then he meets Lise.

Most of the time, it felt as if I was reading a telegram or something of the sort. Though I did not enjoy it very much, I am pretty positive that a younger child would probably enjoy the book. (It is the intended audience, after all!)

Rating: 4/10

Steve May is a teacher, poet and radio dramatist, among other things. His novel, One Chance, has been described as a classic wartime adventure story, fit to rival the storytelling of Morpurgo.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011, British Books Challenge 2011


  1. The plot sounds intriguing...too bad about the writing! Wonder why the author wrote in such short sentences? Thanks for the review!!!

  2. Great review :) Really nice balance between good and bad despite the low rating (:

    I'm always quite wary about entering into reading a children's book :-/


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