Review: 13 to Life by Shannon Delany

31 Jan

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: June, 2010
Genre: YA paranormal, romance
Gifted from the wonder Bella.

Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing. Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid…

From St. Martin’s Press website.

*This review is slightly spoilerish*

While it may seem like I drool over every YA book out there, it’s not true. Honestly. Each year there are actually only a hand-full of YA books that I must read or I’ll die a slow, painful, whinny death. Well, not really but that’s what it feels like. 13 to Life was one of those books that I desperately wanted to read. When Bella from Bella’s Bookshelf sent it to me as part of a book swap I was uber-excited. There may have been some screaming.

Any-hoo I pretty much instantly dug into it and I wasn’t really disappointed. Sure, there were a couple of things that niggled at me a bit, but they weren’t monstrous enough to make me not enjoy the book.

I loved the mystery surrounding the Rusakova family. Who were they? What was their story, really? From the moment we meet Pietr, it’s obvious the boy is hiding some deep, dark secret. And then we meet the rest of the clan, and, well, things get even more secretive.

Jessie was a solid female lead, but, well, she does some things that just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and seemed a bit mean. And here’s where the spoilery stuff comes in, so if you haven’t read the book you may not want to read the rest of the review.

Jessie likes Pietr. Pietr likes Jessie. But Jessie’s best friend Sarah also likes Pietr. So Jessie says she’s stepping back and tells Pietr to date Sarah even though he wants to date Jessie. He does. But then he spends the rest of the book sneaking kisses with Jessie and spending as much time with her as possible. Not really a nice thing to do to a friend. I mean, if you say you’re going to step back, then step back! I really liked Jessie and Pietr as a couple but I was put off by this weird love-triangle. The reason Jessie does this is explained, but I just didn’t think it was a strong enough explanation.

I also found the pacing a bit off at places. Things happened quickly and emotions and feelings changed in the blink of an eye. And before anyone says anything, I know teens can be moody little beasts, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I found at certain parts of the novel (like the Homecoming dance) that it went from crying to laughing to angry back to crying way too fast for me to feel vested in any of it.

With that being said, I really, really enjoyed 13 to Life. The plot and, like I said, the mystery of the story kept my attention. In fact, I stayed up until 4 am finishing the book in one sitting. It ended in a major cliff hanger and even though I’m on a bit of a book buying ban, I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel, Secrets and Shadows, when it comes out in February.

Oh, and I in case you aren’t quite sure how much I liked this book, I’m also part of the MAX-imum Exposure Tour. On February 1tth, I’ll get the chance to interview Max, Pietr’s older brother. Tres cool.

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