Sarah Dessen is one of those authors I've heard a lot of rave things about; she's considered one of the very best Contemporary YA writers. And though I was not over-the-moon for Last Chance, I was certainly hooked on its author.
Last Chance is a novel about overcoming one of the toughest things in life: the terrible perception you have of yourself. The main character, Colie, has had a life of bad experiences - and she's learnt to expect more of them to come. But while I really loved what Dessen did with Colie over the course of the novel, I can't say I ever came to love her. She was fine, but I never really "got" who she was. Her main role was as the "doormat", but taking that away seemed to leave a blank slate.
Which, now that I think of it, might have been what Dessen was going for. I guess Colie was still working out who she was - as a "work in progress", I guess a blank slate would be just what she wanted. Hmm...
Anyhow, the real standouts of Last Chance are Colie's supporting cast of characters. There's Isabel, the bitchy, so-truthful-it-hurts, supermodel-look-a-like waitress who starts off as the main antagonist but slowly becomes the greatest friend you can have (and my favourite character in the novel, to boot). Morgan, the soft-hearted waitress with hearts in her eyes and a quick temper. Mira, the eccentric artist-turned-card-writer who sees a good side to everything - even the most broken of appliances. And Norman, the boy who is written off as an "artist hippie type" but turns out to be the most observant of the lot.
Gorgeous, gorgeous characters. I am going to miss them. And are they worth picking up the book for? In a word: yes.
Bottom line: Overall, a great introduction to Dessen's writing. While I wish the main character had had a bit more character, her friends more than made up for her.