Author: Shannon Delany
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance
Target audience: 12+
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
13 to Life is the story of Jessica Gillmansen. A girl who is determindely putting the past behind her. If she were British, I would say she had the stiff upper lip thing down to a fine art. She is forgiving; she is compassionate; she also happens to be in complete ignorance of the truth. Jessica is assigned the task of guiding around school the new guy in town Pietr Rusakova. He is your straight talking, handsome, feral kind of guy and rather adorable. He also happens to be keeping a secret and you know these curious teen girls, they just can't leave these mysteries alone, can they?
The story unfolds in the tradition of many paranormal romances. There is the high school setting and the super heart-throb jock who makes Jessica's heart beat faster. There also happen to be mean girls who dislike Jessica. There is however an interesting twist to this part of the story in the dynamic of Jessica's friendships and I thought that it gave the book a nice original touch.
I really liked the humourous tone that came through Jessica's narrative. She had me laughing out loud in the garden which was probably a little disconcerting for the neighbours. I also really liked that Jessica was fully rounded. Her identity as a lover of horses and her role as the school newspaper editor gave her an indidivdual identity. Unfortunately, the style in which the novel is written isn't really to my taste. It did take me quite a long time to get into the rhythm of it and sometimes I thought certain expressions were verging on dodgy, e.g. "substandard fare". No teens that I know would say use that turn of phrase. The other issue I had with this book was a feeling of inevitability. It was so obvious what was going to happen that I was expecting a full 360 degree twist and I didn't quite get it.
13 to Life did have a very dramatic ending and it did leave me wanting more. I do still have questions that need to be answered. As a debut author, I'm sure Shannon Delany will have much more to give. On style, this wasn't really my type of book. On themes and use of deep philoposhical questions, it most definitely was. So overall, I'm somewhere in the middle. This will certainly appeal to fans of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.
Thanks to Carla @ The Crooked Shelf for organising the ARC tour.