Shannon Delany, 13 to Life

Posted April 4, 2011 by Kathy Davie in

13 to Life (13 to Life, #1)13 to Life by Shannon Delany
Series: 13 to Life, 1
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First in the 13 to life paranormal romance series for Young Adults. I didn’t get the significance of the title until much later in the novel…grim.

The Story
Life just can’t get any lousier for Jessie Gillmansen. Her mom died. Getting called out of Literature and not gym class. Then she gets stuck with having to guide that new student, Pietr Rusakova, around the school showing him to his classes and stuff. Having a pash for Derek, a running back on the high school football team, Jessie has no time for Pietr even though all the girls swarm him like paparazzi on a naked Angelina Jolie.

The main controversy is Sarah’s attraction to Pietr, which he doesn’t return, but Jessie won’t trample on her friend’s feelings and she urges Pietr to date Sarah. Pietr goes along with it but continues his assault on Jessie forging bonds with her through her horses, the deaths of parents, and the attraction each has for the other. Minor controversies involve the snotty cheerleaders who pick on everyone, Derek’s sudden interest in Jess, a puzzling argument between Alexi and another Russian, and then there’s Weird Wanda’s fascination for her Dad…yuck.

The Characters
Jessica, Amy, and Sarah are best friends. Jessica is a good kid who works on the school paper and cares for the horses her mother used to raise and train before she died. She also has a major, unrequited passion for Derek. Sarah is considered a friend by Jess although she’s more of a project; a project Amy just doesn’t understand. Personally, I think Jess is aiming for sainthood! Sophia used to be one of the gang but became more absorbed in other interests.

Annabelle Lee is Jessie’s younger [painful] sister with a yen to mess with her sister while their Dad works double shifts at the chocolate factory. Weird Wanda only arrived in town a week or so before the Rusakovas did and is very interested in Jessica’s dad…you can imagine how keen Jess and Annabelle Lee are about this development.

Pietr, Max, and Catherine Rusakova are the new Russian kids in town with Alexi as their older brother/guardian. Pietr frustrates and intrigues Jess with his initial offhand attitude and desire for her company.

Jenny and Macie are the bratty cheerleaders who think everyone and everything is there for their convenience, particularly if they want to mess with them. As part of the high school football team, Derek, naturally, is going out with Jenny but, for some reason, starts playing up to Jess.

My Take
I really enjoyed this story; Delany manages to write a Young Adult novel that doesn’t talk down to kids and proves that she knows what’s important to them and how their world operates. Excellent dialog between kids, kids and parents, and kids and authority figures (teachers and the cops). I am looking forward to the second book in the series, Secrets and Shadows.

One thing I didn’t understand is if Pietr and Max were in trouble for having ditched school for Europe, enough trouble that the police were there to ensure they were attending school, then why isn’t Catherine, Pietr’s twin sister, also in school?

The Cover
I like the cover. It’s romantically spooky with Jess in a wintry forest and a wolf’s eye floating in the sky.

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