13 to Life by Shannon Delany

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Book: 13 to Life
Author: Shannon Delany
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release date: June 22, 2010
Source: Won from Recovering Potter Addict
Series: 13 to Life #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) Everything about Jessie Gillmansenâ??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, sheâ??s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accentâ??heâ??s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessieâ??s small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie canâ??t avoid…

First impressions: The opening scenes are really engaging, particularly when Jessie encounters a beast outside her barn. We then jump right into her life at school and the introduction of Pietr, and the book moved really well for the first couple of chapters.

Lasting impressions: The cliffhanger at the end left me curious to see where the story is headed, but the lack of action in this book makes me question whether I would enjoy another installment.

Conflicting impressions: Pacing, pacing, pacing. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: I have a hard time enjoying a book that moves at a snail’s pace. Nothing happens for a very large portion of the book, so while the beginning and end were interesting, the slow middle really affected my opinion of the book as a whole.

Overall impressions: There were elements of this story that I really liked. Pietr is interesting, and I like his complex family. Jessie had me laughing out loud in a couple of scenes. She’s really funny, and would be way more likable if she wasn’t so hung up on her friend Sarah.

You see, Sarah used to be the cruelest mean girl in the school. She was also responsible for Jessie’s mother’s agonizing death by fire in a car accident. When Sarah survived and wound up in a coma with memory loss, Jessie took it upon herself to nurse her back to health and turn her into her best friend.


Sorry, I’m not buying it. It serves the story by adding a layer of tension when Sarah starts to revert to her old self, but its primary purpose is simply to add a roadblock to the burgeoning relationship between Jessie and Pietr. Because fragile Sarah has a crush, Jessie couldn’t possibly act on her growing feelings for him. Jessie made me so angry during this part of the book that I wanted to shake her. Why are you giving up everything for the girl who took your mother away from you?

The light at the end of the tunnel is the last few chapters. Things really pick up toward the end, when Jessie starts putting together the pieces. We get information that Jessie and Pietr and their families may be linked, and it ends on a cliffhanger.

There are enough cool things that happened in this book that I think the next one may be worth a read, but I’m still hesitant. Jessie was at times funny and likable, and at other times completely ridiculous. Pietr is dark and brooding, but also in insta-love with Jessie. The end was interesting, but the first chapter totally gives away what’s happening in the story and therefore dragging out Jessie’s realization.

All told, it just didn’t work for me.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Want a different perspective? Check out this 8 out of 10 review by A Beautiful Madness.

11 thoughts on “13 to Life by Shannon Delany

  1. Exactly, really well put. I really didn't get the whole Sarah situation either. From what I've read from reviews of Secrets and Shadows, she gets even nastier. Still hesitant whether I'll read the next one as well. I'm so busy and am such a slow reader and have so many books that I actually want to read that I may end up just skipping it. But I'd love to read what you have to say on it if you decide to read it!

  2. Good review! I didn't have this on my list yet because I am getting a little tired of the "mysterious guy comes to town" thing. Maybe that's a bit biased, but I am craving a different plot approach. Thanks for being honest!

  3. A very well written review. I really like it when reviewers give specific details as to why a book just didn't work for him/her. You did a great job explaining yourself. Thanks for the honest review.

  4. What? Why the heck would you want to make someone be your best friend? Unless… you're me? LOLThat part of the story line is just a no-no. I think I'm gonna pass on this one. I just don't have the patience for slow going reads anymore.

  5. @Midnyte Reader – Thanks!@Aylee – I haven't made up my mind. For now I think I'll hold off until something changes my mind.@BookGeek – Yeah, the mysterious new guy thing is wearing on me too. Pietr was nice enough but kind of blah.@Gina – Thanks. I didn't want to just hate on the book, because there were some good parts.@Missie – I'm going to make YOU be my best friend!@Mflick1 – I thought about abandoning it, but I'm glad I toughed it out.

  6. Um, THANK YOU! I wasn't sure if I wanted to get involved in this series, but I'm thinking no now. I had heard about the friend (though not about the killing her mom part and then turning the girl into her BFF..what??!?) and I had heard about the slow plot but not as clearly as you've written it. I'm thinking if you weren't feeling it, then I'm going to steer clear.

  7. Hm, I never thought about it like THAT. But, between you and Smalls, who tend to look at things with a more critical eye, I learn a few things. I liked this story. Didn't LOVE it. But, I liked it. (Though, I did get plenty annoyed with the whole Jessie-Sarah-Pietr thing. I was surprised when Pietr didn't give into the urge to shake her.) And yet, I get why you didn't. Hopefully SECRETS AND SHADOWS will be better. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Logan E. Turner

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