Book Review- 13 to Life

Here is an author’s dream– you participate in a contest (a cell phone text novel contest no less), win, get an agent, and sign a multi-deal book with a publisher. Ladies and gentleman let me introduce you to author, Shannon Delany and her novel 13 to Life.

Here is the official synopsis:

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…


Here is why this books works: great, likable female protagonist who while you want to shake sometimes for her romantic choices, offers a fresh and enjoyable voice in YA lit. An outstanding set of supporting characters ranging from witty, dependable friends to smooth-talking, want to get to know brothers. Even some of the “villains” are really well-written, including Jessie’s football star crush who you can’t ever decide if he really likes her for her, or likes her for what he can get from her. Though I suspect we will find out the answers in the next installment.

The paranormal storyline is done perfectly in my mind. It’s not even the main focus of the story, and I really dig that. I keep stating that what makes a great paranormal YA is a strong focus on the relationships of the story. The mythology (paranormal aspects) of the novel don’t really come into play until the  end of the novel, leaving ample time for the reader to fall in love with Jessie and Pietr falling in love. Though, once again, according to the novel’s cliff-hanger ending, I think the focus on the novel’s mythology will get a bit more intense. Delany has hooked me with her characters, so I am already along for the ride.

Also, Delany is a very self-aware author. Often her MC makes random observations about the publishing world, and YA fiction which are not only spot-on, but really fun to read for anyone who is in the know.

What didn’t work: The love story’s conflict. At first, I was ok with the major obstacle that stood in the way of Jessie and Pietr, but when it evolved into something beyond girls before boyfriends (evolving into plot hole ridden story of amnesia) I got a little frustrated. I don’t want to give too much away here, but let’s just say the character of Sara did not work for me.

Even with this flaw, the book was a really enjoyable read. One of the best books I have read this summer. If you are a fan of The Twilight Series, I highly suggest you pick it up.

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