Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 22, 2010
Source: Won from YA Book Reads
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars - I Liked It
Description (from Goodreads): 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...
In short: 13 To Life by Shannon Delany was lacking in action throughout much of the novel but still managed to be an entertaining read with fun characters and writing.
So, not a whole lot happens in this book. I was waiting for the action to kick in for the greater part of the novel. A big portion of the book was spent on the teen romance drama between the main character Jessie, her two love interests, new guy Pietr and old crush Derek, and best friend Sarah. The other portion was the mystery behind Pietr and his family. As is common in many of these types of paranormal stories, it is told in such a way that is so obvious to the reader that Pietr is a werewolf (I lost count of all the canine references) that it was frustrating that Jessie couldn't figure it out sooner, especially seeing as how she is supposed to be a crack reporter for her school. I should probably just learn to accept that this is going to be the case in most books of this genre that I read.
When the book starts out, Delany introduces the reader to seemingly every student at Junction High and it's a little hard to keep track of who is who. Or if it is even really important to remember the names of every single one of Jessie's class members. Turns out it's not. But I really did enjoy the characters of Jessie and Pietr and their friends. Jessie was easy to love (despite her daftness on Pietr's true identity). She loves YA vampire novels and is smart and feisty. Her inner dialogue was hilarious. Also, it seemed more real to how a teenager would speak and think than in many other YA novels where the characters seem to speak at a level too mature for their age. Pietr was cool and sensitive, a great male lead.
The writing was so fun and witty. Despite the lack of action, I still found myself being entertained by laugh-out-loud moments. Especially the self-referential excerpts. A taste:
"I was so stupid. As a writer, I know if I'd been a character in a novel a good editor would have scrawled TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) on the manuscript pages."
"Now I just wanted to read a book. A good, quick-to-read vampire book. Something that defied the very definition of proper literature. Something simply fun."
As a debut author, Delany has a lot to improve on. But I'm definitely interested in seeing her growth in the sequel, Secrets and Shadows. I've become invested in the characters and the book left off with quite a few questions and an annoying cliffhanger, so I'm committed to seeing it through.
Read Between The Lines
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Lupines And Lunatics
Stalk The Author (not for serious):