Thursday, April 7, 2011

13 to Life: Strange pacing and one of the lamest plot devices ever

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...

Book Review:

13 to Life by Shannon Delany

3 out of 5 stars

I picked up the sequel, Secrets and Shadows, and I realized I remembered almost nothing from 13 to Life, so I thought I'd read it again. What a mistake. Rereading 13 to Life only reminded me of the three things I hated about it when I read the book the first time.

1. LAMEST. PLOT. DEVICE. EVER. Jessie likes Pietr. Pietr likes Jessie. So Jessie "unselfishly" tells Pietr to be with her best frenemy, Sarah, because that's the "honorable" thing to do. What is honorable about telling the boy you love--and who loves you--to be with your psychotic friend and then kissing him behind her back? YA books seem to have to find a way for the lovers to be star-crossed--a reason why they can't be together--but this is the WORST excuse I've ever seen. I can't be with you because my friend likes you. Even though you don't like her. So pretend you like her and I'll kiss you when she's not around. Ugh.

2. The events of this book take place over, like, two weeks. I added up the days the first time I read 13 to Life, and the book spanned something like 2-3 weeks. Love like that doesn't happen in two weeks. I mean, Pietr's passionately kissing Jessie at the football game after knowing her TWO DAYS. The love and attraction between Pietr and Jessie (as claimed by the book) would be much more powerful if the story actually let them GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER FIRST. They meet. They're immediately in love. With barely even any conversation.

3. Pietr's secret isn't revealed until the final few pages, even though it's obvious to the reader within the first few pages. This created really strange pacing. So much of the plot is wrapped around Pietr finally revealing his secret to Jessie, but the author drags this plot point out for the entire book, and I grew impatient. This should have been revealed much, much earlier--the secret is TOO OBVIOUS to the reader, and I grew frustrated with Jessie for not realizing and with Pietr for not telling her. I felt the story couldn't move forward until Jessie knew, but the big reveal didn't occur until the very end. Much too late.

Despite these issues, I will read the sequel. Let's hope the author dumps the sham Pietr/Sarah relationship and moves the story forward now that Jessie knows Pietr's secret.

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