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.
Details: Thirteen to Life by Shannon Delaney, 308 pages, 3.96 stars on Goodreads
Why I Picked This Up: This one was another book I hesitated to put on my to-read list. The cover was gorgeous, but the summary sounded boring. And really, werewolves? I honestly haven't read a werewolf book yet that I've really enjoyed - they're just not my cup of tea - but finally I gave in and decided to read it.
Characters: I'll just come out and say it - I didn't like the characters very much. Jess was okay. While I didn't hate her guts, she wasn't really someone I particularly cared for. I like snarky characters, but it didn't feel like it was done right with her - she was snarky about the same "typical American high school" stuff, complaining about the jocks and the populars and the nerds and the drama geeks and what have you. Hint - as far as I know, not all high schools are neatly divided into perfectly orchestrated social classes. One thing I do have to say, though, is that I'm glad she's a character who likes reading but not classical literature. It's possible to enjoy books without only reading things like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre - you know, the YA fiction we all know and love.
Jess got a little annoying towards to the end, because she kept talking about self-sacrifice and such. I think this book would have fared a lot better without that. It's one thing to have a character who's inclined to be generous, but it was just irritating to read about her martyring herself all over the place. In some cases, it can be successful, like Sorta Like A Rock Star (the most recent addition to my to-review list), but when it falls flat, it really falls flat.
Still, I liked Jess better than Pietr. His "bad boy"-ness felt overdone and didn't really bring anything new to the table. I also didn't like the random da's and nyet's interspersed with his dialogue - there are other ways of making him seem Russian and mysterious than having him say a foreign word or two every now and then.
Plot: My other issue with this book was the plot. A lot of paranormal romances seem to go this way: (1) New boy comes to school, and every single girl in a fifty mile radius is instantly attracted to him, except one. (2) This one girl is forced, one way or another, to be around him a lot. (3) The girl starts to fall in love with him, even though she doesn't want to. (4) She finds out his terrible secret and loves him anyway. Dialogue such as "I love you." "You shouldn't. I'm dangerous. I could kill you." "I love you anyway." ensues.
I was hoping this book would go differently, but it didn't. There was very little deviation from this standard plotline, and there wasn't anything really unique going on, either. The romance was unremarkable and didn't stand out. One thing I do have to say is that although I disliked Pietr, he was definitely very, very swoon-worthy. If you're really into paranormal romances, you'll probably love Pietr.
My biggest issue with this book was the pacing. Everything was trundling along at a nice rate, and then suddenly a whole lot of plot got crammed into the last twenty pages, presumably to act as a cliffhanger for the second book. If it wasn't for that, I probably would want to pick up the next one, but instead things got confusing with lots of characters tossed into the mix, and now I don't plan on reading Secrets and Shadows.
Cover: I love this cover. The colors are wonderful, with the different shades of blue, especially how the really dark ones around the edges ebb into lighter colors. The pattern on the left is cool and adds a nice touch, especially how it twists and snakes around in a chain-ish way. The eye-moon is very cool as well, and I think the abrupt color change with that works quite nicely. Really, the only thing I don't like very much about this cover is how there are two focal points, the girl and the eye-moon. One of the first things you learn when making graphics is that unless you pull it off really well, things work better with a single focal point. Otherwise, your eyes aren't sure where to focus, the girl or the picture of the eye. I think this cover would be a little better without the girl strolling by on the bottom.
First Line: I closed the door behind me, heading down the hallway and straight to Hell.
Overall: I feel like this book might have some potential, but I didn't like it very much, with the unoriginal plot, strange pacing, and characters I simply didn't care about. The reviews on Goodreads were mixed, with some people feeling like I did and others raving about it. I would say that if you know you love paranormal romances, you'll probably adore this one, but if you only like some or don't like them all, don't pick this one up.
Plot - 2/5
Characters - 2/5
Writing - 4/5
Impact - 2/5
Inability to put it down - 3/5
Total - 52% = C