13 to Life by Shannon Delany

Filed in Review , Shannon Delaney , The Smutty Lover Posted on August 10, 2010 @ 11:00 am 5 comments

Format Read: Bought book
Number of Pages: 308 pages
Release Date: June 22nd 2010
Publisher: St Martins Griffin
Formats Available: Paperback, eBook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s WebsiteAmazon, Book Depository UKBook Depository US

Book Blurb:
Something strange is stalking the small town of Junction…
When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort.
The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide–secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early.
My Thoughts:
I have been looking forward to this book when I first heard about it a few months ago. I am a huge fan of werewolves, and I much prefer them over vampires. For 13 to Life, I liked the premise of the werewolves and the Russian mafia in a small town. However, it was different to my pre-expectations on how the book would turn out. And it turned out to be even better than what my preconceptions were. I had assumed that it would focus heavily on werewolves.
Jessie Gillmanson is in the midst of mourning the death of her mother who recently died in a car accident. Despite the attention and concern of those around her, Jessie just wants to regain back her old life at school. But when she is asked to guide a new pupil around the school, Pietr Rusakova (there is a great scene where she mispronounces his name), she is initially reluctant to do so. However, she soon finds herself having mixed feelings about Pietr who indicates he would like to be more than friends, despite him keepings secrets about his own life. But at the same time, she also has a major crush on Derek, who is the most popular guy at her high school and he soon shows interests in her too.
Now I am not a major fan of love triangles – although this was set up pretty well. There was an incident in the book where Jessie pushes Pietr away – even though at that point she had strong feelings for him which gave me pause. The reason why Jessie did this was explained later on, and this added more depth to Jessie’s characterization as it touched on the things she was going through as well as the people around her.
Jessie’s interactions with Pietr and how their relationship evolved was great to read because it felt real. Pietr – who was not the brooding or mysterious type – had his own secrets, but I did like how he was so different from Derek, Jessie’s other crush, and because his character did not feel cliched. Jessie’s initial antagonism turned to reluctant attraction was very fun. What I thought was a strong point in the book was the the realism about Jessie’s feelings; about life, love, and the people around her. And I think this is how the paranormal aspect was toned down. Although I wanted to see more of that this empathized the focus on the characters layered the story for me.
The supporting characters is also a highlight in the book. Amy, who was Jessie’s best friend, was smart, had great voice of reason, and she was very supportive and fun. Sarah, Jessie’s other friend, was a book worm and was constantly holding a book. But the revelation that we later learn in the book was a great shock. I also loved the references to classical books and texts that Sarah was reading, which the characters themselves reflect, such as Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet. It was clever, fun and it adds meanings to the story/characters as well as indicators into what was going to happen.
My only gripe — and it’s a minor one — is the climax of the book. I felt that it was rushed due to the frenetic pacing, and along with the major revelations that comes out, I almost found it hard to follow because it was literally in the last few pages that everything came out. But despite this, it was a wholly satisfying ending although it does end with the dreaded cliffhanger.
This is a YA book that has real depth and a close eye to characterization – especially about issues like grief, love and growing up and becoming an adult. I think a lot of YA books that focus on the paranormal tend to miss out the every day aspect. In many ways the paranormal aspect was hinted at in the background – although there was tantalising hints throughout the book. But I loved the focus on the protagonists lives, especially Jessie’s grief which was realistic.
13 to Life in many ways is not only a love story, but a book about grief, loss, friendship and even hate. It is a multi-layered story that has emotional resonance with characters who are fully drawn and alive. I think the focus on the characters rather than the supernatural elements in 13 to Life was the real highlight of the book. The emotions were messy, and the heroine was not perfect. She had flaws, but she was likable and relatable, and I loved how it dealt with themes of love, grief and friendships. I think the paranormal aspects being downplayed actually made it a stronger book. It really focused on the characters and this was the book’s strengths. I will be eagerly looking forward to the sequel and I have a feeling that it will be just as good!
I give 13 to Life, 4 and half bookies.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review. All our links to the online bookstores are affiliate links. The money earned with these accounts is spent on books for contest exclusively. The author sent me this book in exchange of an honest review.

About Has

Has is a bookaholic and feeds her addiction whenever she can. She usually can be found lost in a Romance or an Urban Fantasy novel. Her favourite sub genres are Paranormal, Fantasy and some Scifi. Her most treasured authors are, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Ann Aguirre, Lisa Kleypas and Tamora Pierce. She loves that discovery of finding a brand new author and falling in love with their books. Has also blogs a The Book Pushers - Book chatter and reviews

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Join the Discussion
  • brandileigh2003 August 10, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I also felt it was rushed. But I want to know what happens next

  • Dwayne August 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    I agree with both of you. Just finished this and while I like it a lot, I feel that something's amiss.

  • Jessica August 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    It probably was a little rushed, but since I was devouring just as quickly in reading it, it kind of leveled the playing field. I loved it from beginning to end! Sure a lot of it all came together at the end and left a lot of unanswered questions, but it was a great buildup and it makes waiting for the sequel even harder!

    This definitely became a fast fave for me! 😉

  • Liz. R August 11, 2010 at 4:13 am

    I haven't read this yet but I love a good werewolf story! Glad you enjoyed it; I've read a lot of books lately, though, that I thought felt a bit rushed. Maybe it's a 2010 thing! 😛 Thanks for the review.

  • Has August 29, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I loved this book and although it did have a rushed ending I am def looking forward to the sequel! I hate the cliffanger ending though 😛 😀

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