Title: 13 to Life
Series: 13 to Life #1
Author: Shannon Delany
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Published: June 2010
My Copy: Kobo
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.
13 to Life is a great series opener. The book starts off slow, gradually building the characters and background story. There’s not a lot of action but that’s not surprising considering there’s already two more installments in this series. Shannon Delany builds a solid foundation and her skillful writing style masks the slower plot pace so that it becomes irrelevant. The storyline of this novel is much broader than I expected from a Young Adult read. The werewolves took longer than I would have liked to reveal themselves but then again, because there was such a build-up I feel compelled to read Secrets and Shadows immediately.
Jessie is an unusual character. She’s the most selfless teenager that I’ve ever encountered. It probably has something to do with the tragic way in which she lost her mother. Her martyr-like attitude was frustrating at times but she’s such a genuinely nice person that it’s impossible to hold it against her. Sarah is Jessie’s best friend and that in itself is incredibly messed up. I don’t want to give up the reason but once you discover it for yourself you’ll be dumbfounded. Guaranteed. I racked my brain trying to understand Jessie’s reasons but couldn’t so instead I settled for giving Sarah the evil eye through the pages. Then to top it off, Jessica pushes Pietr into her evil-BFF’s arms even though she clearly has a thing for him. What an infuriating young lady!
Pietr is one strange dude and Jessie realizes this the moment she meets him. He may be an oddball but he’s a charming one. Rusakova’s childhood story is nothing like his crush’ but they’re united by similar tragic circumstances. There’s a confrontation that occurs between him and a K9 drug sniffing dog that gave me goosebumps. Pietr’s intensity in this scene is fierce! I loved it! I found that he complemented Jessie nicely, that is whenever she’d let him of course. I enjoyed the slow burn approach to the love intrigue side of this tale. There was no quick “I love you”‘s. Both protagonists take the time to explore their feelings, it was a nice change of pace from typical love triangles. Pietr’s family is also very interesting and complex. I liked Catherine most of all but Max was a close second. I can’t wait to discover more about the Rusakova’s in the second installment.
The only downside of this book for me was how long it took for the werewolves-side of the plot to kick in. The wolfish action lasts for about 50 pages and then culminates in a cliffhanger. That’s just cruel of you Shannon Delany. Shame on you! This novel won’t have you rapidly turning pages in anticipation of the next action-packed scene but it will have you hanging off of Delany’s every word. She is a master storyteller and it shows on every page. I LOVED this book! 13 to Life is the start of something beautiful.
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About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada