13 to Life

I am happy to say that I am ending the year much like I began it–reading great YA books.  I spent much of today reading, so I will have one final post before 2010 draws to a close.  My final book of the year is Shannon Delaney’s 13 to Life, a wonderful first book in what is sure to be a gripping new series.  This is paranormal YA fiction at its finest, and, in my opinion, this book will appeal to middle school, high school, and adult readers alike.  (I’m sure the same will be true of upcoming books in this series.)  The main character, Jessica, was relatable (if a bit frustrating at times), and I think many readers, male and female, may identify with her a bit.

Jessica Gillmansen doesn’t have the easiest life.  After the death of her mother, she’s doing all she can to hold everything together while convincing those around her she’s not a danger to herself.  She’s trying her best to keep everything on an even keel, but that may not be entirely possible.  Strange things are happening around her town, and Jessica’s reporter instincts tell her that there is a mysterious story unfolding around her.

How right she is.  Things get even stranger when Jessica becomes the guide for a new student at school.  He’s tall, dark, handsome, mysterious–all the things most teenage girls go nuts over–but Jessica is largely unimpressed and just wants to escape from showing the new kid, Pietr Rusakova, the ropes at school.  Pietr, however, may have other ideas.  He makes his interest in Jessica crystal clear, and, hard as it may be to admit it, Jessica finds herself drawing closer to this enigmatic guy with secrets in his eyes.

As is so often the case when it comes to teens and romance, things do not proceed smoothly for Pietr and Jessica.  See, Jessica also has the hots for popular jock Derek, Pietr is reluctantly dating Jessica’s friend Sarah (who is not exactly who she seems to be, in my opinion), Pietr’s family is wary of Pietr’s involvement with Jessica, and there’s just some weird stuff going on that the two are hard-pressed to explain to anyone else or each other.  Throw in some werewolves and some bad guys who may or may not be connected to the Russian Mafia, and you’ve got quite the mess.  It’s really a lot for a couple of almost-seventeen-year-olds to take.  But try they must.  What will happen with Jessica and Pietr?  Will they reveal their secrets to each other?  Can they really be together with so much stacked against them?  I’ll let you decide when you read 13 to Life by Shannon Delaney.

I really did enjoy this book, especially the connections made to classic literature.  13 to Life made references to several works, including Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, and The Merchant of Venice.  I just love it when that happens.  I think it arouses curiosity and may lead readers to revisit these great masterpieces of literature.  I can hardly wait to see where Shannon Delaney takes us in the next book, especially since 13 to Life ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.  The next book, Secrets and Shadows is due out in February of 2011, so at least I won’t have to wait long to find out more.

To learn more about the 13 to Life series and author Shannon Delaney, visit http://www.13tolifeseries.com/.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year, and I’ll see you in 2011!

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