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Friday, December 10, 2010

Review: 13 To Life by Shannon Delany

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 22, 2010
Pages: 308
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 accenthe'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.

Other Reviews:
Read Between The Lines
For What It's Worth
Lupines And Lunatics

Stalk The Author (not for serious):


  1. I'm very drawn to the cover. How simply gorgeous! The turn off for me though "teen romance drama". I could be persuaded to give it a try though because of "the mystery behind Pietr and his family". I like mysteries... hmmm undecided I'll just have to wait and see.

  2. Oh, one last thing: where'd ya get this one from or find out about it at?

  3. I've heard a lot of mixed reviews on this one. I don't like hearing that it's slow. That's a surefire way to get me to put a book down. Those excerpts you picked out are really funny though! I can so relate (though I hope I wouldn't be deemed TSTL).

  4. Aylee! What an excellent review! I've never read this, but I absolutely adored your thoughts on it! I think a lack of action would drive me nuts though, unfortunately :)

  5. Fabulous review Aylee! I haven't read this one, but I can tell that being introduced to a bunch of extraneous characters would be a bit frustrating for me:) At least Jessie seems like a great protagonist, so perhaps each installment in this series will improve!

  6. @Gina: Yes, but unfortunately the mystery about Pietr take forever to become unraveled! The entire time I was just cheering Jessie on, willing her to figure it out! Come on!
    I got this from YA Book Reads during their Vampires vs. Werewolves contest. I was Team Werewolf :) I've been seeing it around for awhile now. It's not one of the top most popular paranormal stories out there but it is out there.

    @Small Review: I am unable to put a book down. I must read it through until the bitter end! Fortunately, the end of this book was where it finally started to get exciting!

    @Melissa: Yes, it was driving me a bit nuts. But once I start a book, I find that I have to finish it.

    @Jenny: Yes, I find that it's important for me to at least really like the main character. If she hadn't been likeable, then I wouldn't have enjoyed the book at all.

  7. I am interested in the sequel but wasn't that impressed by 13 to life as said in my own review, it just didn't have that omph it needed. Great review !

    Jess :)

  8. Lol, she sounds funny!! I'm not sure I would enjoy it because I hate when I just keep waiting for something to happen.

    Thanks for the review!

  9. @Jess: Agreed!
    @AnimeGirl: It was very frustrating, no lie.

  10. You finished it! I'm glad you enjoyed it more than I did. I agree that many of the characters were very likable and that's probably what kept me reading until the very end. As you said though, too much teen drama and not enough action! You'll have to tell me if the story gets any better in the sequel :o)

  11. I really really hope it does get better! Because I don't think I can just give up on the series now that I've started it. For some reason, I feel like I need to see it through to the end.

  12. Great review! I have this one on my TBR list. I like your honesty -- what you liked and what you didn't like. It's cool the main character is into YA vampire novels. I'm looking forward to reading it!

  13. Thank you! I thought it was pretty cute she was so into vampire romance novels, too.

  14. I've heard other people mention the lack of action in this book -- what a bummer! But I like how you contrast it with the fun and funny characters and writing. I might have to give this one a try just for the humor. Thanks for the honest review!

  15. Yes, I would say it is worth a try to see if you like it for yourself!