July 8, 2010

Book Review: 13 to Life by Shannon Delany

Title: 13 to Life
Author: Shannon Delany
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

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.
My Review
I read this book in one day so that should tell you something! It moved along so fast and easily that I just kept reading and reading.  I also wanted to know what happened, so that motivated me as well.

Characters: I liked the main character Jessie.  She seemed like a pretty strong independent girl that didn't put up with much.  I really loved how she delt with Pietr when asked to show him around school and how she wasn't caught up in his looks.  There is a bit of mystery surrounding Jessie and her mom.  You know her mom died, but the full story isn't told until most of the way through the story.  I was impressed with how Jessie delt with this loss, but I could also tell that she wasn't dealing as well as she let on.  She seemed stuck trying to make sure everyone around her was taken care of, ignoring herself.  As her story is told more, I expect to see this unravel some. There were more things about her that I would've liked to have seen explored more.  We learn she was skilled at shooting, but it's kinda mentioned and then forgotten.  I wanted to know more about it!

As for Pietr, he was interesting.  The boy of mystery that all the girls go gaga over.  I did like that he didn't come off as cocky as he could've.  He seemed pretty down to earth treating everyone nicely - well except Jessie's crush Derek.  They do not like each other, but it's not clear why - another question left unanswered.  Pietr is where I felt the most frustrated in terms of answers.  Some are given.  Some aren't. And for me, most frustrating - some are partially given.  Like his parents, or where they came from and why.  It was answered but I was like "what? that's all?"! I'm hoping they are explained more in the next book. 

Plot: The plot has enough mystery, suspense and budding romance to get me reading (remember I read it in a day!).  Not only was there the mystery of Pietr and his entire family, but a side mystery about Jessie and her friend Sarah.  Through the whole thing I couldn't figure out why Jessie treated Sarah how she did.  Thankfully that was fully answered! I had kinda figured it out but not completely.  The one part of the plot I didn't like was the whole Derek story.  Because it's left so open, I wasn't completely sure why it was there.  Again - maybe it will be clearer in the next book.

Final thought: Good start to what looks like a promising series
Best stick-with-you image: When Pietr crashes on the 4-wheeler
Best for ages: 12+


  1. Great interview. I've heard great things about this book. Now I really want to read it.

  2. I really liked this book too though the abrupt ending and unanswered question made me a little crazy. Still can't wait to see what happens next.

  3. I think half of the satisfaction of YA books is the fact that you can finish them so quickly. Glad to hear this one was good - I trust your judgement and taste.

    Also, just wanted to tell you that I recommended your blog to my sister. She's been teaching high school English, but just got switched to 7th grade for next year. She was asking me to recommend books for her class library, but I think you've got a better handle on it for that particular age group.

  4. I read this and I enjoyed it but I found it wasn't twisty enough for my tastes. Really interesting to hear a different perspective.