Jack Heath, 300 Minutes of Danger, Scholastic Australia, 1 Sept 2015, 192pp., $9.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781760154035
This book consists of 10 short stories written by an award winning YA author of the thriller genre. In each of the ten stories there is a young person in life threatening peril who has thirty minutes to escape. Each story is designed to be read in 30 minutes in concurrence with the story’s events. A time countdown schedule is shown in the page margins, which adds to the sense of urgency.
In one story a boy must escape from a falling aeroplane. The pilot has abandoned the plane and taken the only working parachute with him. In another story a boy travels alone to the deepest ocean floor in a submersible vessel. Quick thinking saves him from attack by a giant reptilian creature. The other stories follow similar unique, nightmarish scenarios occurring in close succession of each other, with the protagonist escaping to safety at the very last moment. Although improbable and unrealistic, the imaginative aspect of the stories makes them interesting.
In my opinion, this book’s best characteristic is that it would engage readers across a wide age range. With a reading ability level of about Yr 5 or Yr 6, there is none of the blood and gore which would render the stories unsuitable for 10 – 12 year old readers.
On the other hand, the stories are exciting, interesting and quick to read for a YA reader with below average reading ability. In addition, there is a masculine feel to this book with its fast paced gripping action packed stories, mostly male characters and masculine style front cover, adding to the appeal for boys.
Reviewed by Barbara Swartz