Reviewer: Amy Lignor
Title: 13 to Life
Author: Shannon Delany
Publisher: Griffin Press
Release Date: June 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: YA Fantasy Fiction
Publisher’s Age/Grade Recommendation: 12 and Up
OUAR’s Age/Grade Recommendation: 12 and Up
Year/Setting: Present day, The small town of Junction
Overall Rating: 4.0
Sexual Content Rating: None/Subtle
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None/Mild
Violent Content Rating: Minimal/Moderate (Fantasy)
Shannon's Website/Blog: www.shannondelaney.com
As we all know, the Twilight phenomena has spurned many YA fantasy novels. From vampires to werewolves, the creatures of the night have come full force to books, screens, and television sets all over the land. However, some are really just "knock-offs" trying to trade in on the rising interest of fantastical Romeo and Juliet literature. Thankfully, Ms. Delaney is NOT one of them. Although there are certainly formulaic facets in this book, the author also has the writing prowess and creative gifts to add "branches" to her story that literally are a real surprise!
We begin by meeting Jessie Hillmansen. Jessie is a typical teenager, except for the fact that she’s suffering greatly from an accident that took her mother away from her. She has a younger sister, who always has her nose in a book; and, a father who is loving – although away a lot because he has to work almost all the time. Jessie is stuck in an "old railroad" town called Junction and attends Junction High. Nothing ever happens in such an out of the way place, until Jessie is summoned to the Guidance Office one day. Tons of thoughts run through her mind. The last thing Jessie wants is for the Counselors to start berating her once again about how she has to "talk through her feelings" about her mother’s death. But as she opens the door, she finds herself standing in front of, not only the counselor, but a bored looking cop, and two boys who are just about the most beautiful creatures she’s ever seen.
Pietr and his family are from Russia. They took off last year and roamed Europe, and when the police caught up with them here in the states, they gave the boys an escort back to school. Pietr has jet black hair and navy blue eyes, and, quite frankly, has all the girls in the school falling at his feet to worship him. Except for…Jessie. Jessie has always had a crush on the football hero. His name is Garrett, and she’s tried her best to get him to notice her for years. But not until Pietr is practically following her day and night – nipping at Jessie’s heels – does Garrett finally come around and start "sniffing" around her, attempting to take her to the Homecoming Game.
Now, Jessie’s friends include Amy – who is funny as all get out – and Sarah, who has a secret hidden in the depths of her brain that she just can’t remember since she was in the accident that left her in a coma. When Sarah woke up, gone was the hideous, evil girl she’d been, and immediately found friendship with Jessie – the one girl who should harbor absolute hatred for Sarah.
Soon we go on a series of adventures: We meet the rest of Pietr’s family; we watch Jessie in her job as Editor-in-Chief for the school paper trying to uncover the mystery of a wolf attack in a nearby town; we meet a woman who has the hots for Jessie’s dad, but is really in their lives for a reason far more dark and sinister; and, the Russian Mafia gets intertwined with the story, as well as historical data that appears to be a part of this beautiful, strange family who’ve just come to town. The storylines are many, and the way they all interconnect is a real tribute to this brand new author on the scene. The characters are fun, and the Romeo and Juliet-‘esque’ romance is filled with sarcasm and banter, which makes it much more fun than reading yet another mopey-sappy-starry-eyed love story. One of my favorite lines is when Jessie’s history teacher says that, "History’s not really dead as long as the living wonder about it." This is a great line, and a terrific lead-in to the trials and tribulations that face Jessie when the Russians come to town.
Ms. Delaney won the first ever "call-in" contest through Textnovel.com, LLC. This is a site that’s a social network for readers, fans, and authors of serial fiction. It’s also a cell phone novel website that allows members to write and read fiction with their cell phones or computers, using text messaging, email, and online books. This is such an interesting "new-way" to help really good authors get their work out there, and I admire Textnovel for making Ms. Delaney’s dreams a reality. I can’t wait for the second in the series entitled, Secrets and Shadows, which will be out in 2011.
Ms. Delaney…you definitely have a brand new fan ion me!
Until next time, Amy
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