For What It's Worth

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: 13 to Life: A Werewolf's Tale by Shannon Delany

13 to LifeSomething 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. YA, Paranormal (June 22. 2010)

I follow author Shannon Delany on twitter and I have to admit that I’ve become quite obsessed with reading 13 to Life and in particular Pietr just from her “tweet-cerpts”. So when I finally got my grubby paws on an ARC (I won it at a charity auction) along with some gorgeous 13 to Life wolfy swag! I wasn’t sure what to expect now that I had it!
The book opens with Jess still reeling from the sudden death of her mom in a horrible accident. Everyone around her believes she’s mentally unstable or even suicidal. She just wants to be alone and do well enough in school so she can leave her small home town behind. She does have the help of her best friends Amy & Sarah plus pining over her crush Derek to help her get through the days.
When Jess is assigned to show the new boy Pietr around school she tries to make the best of it but he just blows her off and acts arrogant. It doesn’t help that every girl in school is drooling over him – even her best friends, but Pietr doesn’t seem to notice anyone. Strange.
I have to say that the first half of 13 to Life left me a little confused. There are so many hints and literary references to a bigger story but without answers that I wasn’t sure who or what was important or not. I never understood why Jess was so self sacrificing in her relationship with Sarah or what her attraction to Derek was. Then at about the halfway point there were some big revelations and I had an “AHA!” moment when it all came together. My opinions of most of the characters changed and I can see a WHOLE lot of trouble in the future! This section was my favorite part of the book and had me flipping the pages at a frantic pace.
The relationship between Jess and Pietr is strained by his secrets and her need to sacrifice her happiness out of a sense of duty. There is a love triangle (and maybe a future quadrangle?) that leads to more secrets and betrayal - but not the typical one you might expect. Sometimes I didn’t understand why this all needed to be so complicated on Jess’s part. I wanted to yell – “Just listen to Amy!!”
Despite the title “13 to Life – A Werewolves Tale”, this is more of a story about finding and accepting ones self rather than a rip roaring werewolf tale. There is a beautiful and heartbreaking scene when Pietr reveals his true self to Jess. They were both so vulnerable at that moment. I liked how Pietr turned from arrogant and aloof into Jess’s protector and their relationship was very sweet.
The last third of the book really starts to delve into the wolf aspect and the Russian mafia connection. I liked Delany’s concept for the wolf lore. The ending was a little abrupt though and again left a whole lot of secrets in the balance so I’m left to wait for book two where we can focus more on the werewolves and find out if Jess and Pietr can survive under the pressure of all their lies and the growing danger.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” by Sir Walter Scott is an apt quote for this first book in the series.
Liked: I really liked the side characters. They were more complex - almost more than Pietr and Jess. I’m looking forward to learning more about Sarah and Derek and I loved BFF Amy!
-My “AHA!” moment when it all came together. It was one of those things where you get nervous reading because you must know what happens!
Nitpick: A lot crammed into one book. I’m sure it all fits together in the end but it felt a little disjointed at times.
-More wolves please.
-Jess- please stop what your doing to Pietr!! You know what I mean :-)

Rating: 3 out of 4. The first half left me slightly lost but then it kicked in. It will be interesting to see how Shannon develops the wolf mythology in books two and three and joins the various plotlines together.


Thanks to Shannon for donating her very last ARC to "Do the write thing for Nashville" an online charity auction held to raise money for the TN flood victims - and for bringing my book, pins, and poster to BEA in NY so I could pick them up in person.....and for including me in the acknowledgements in the next book! That's going to be very surreal!!

*Author's website: Shannon Delany
*Follow Shannon on Twitter (which I highly recommend) @Shannon_Delany
*Buy the book! 13 to Life
*Shannon is a member of the Class of 2K10: Go check out what's coming up next!
*check out all my Class of 2K10 book reviews on my sidebar under the "Class of 2k10 Debut Author Challenge Book Reviews & Interviews!" button.


  1. Very nice review, I can't wait to read this book and now I know that there will be an AHA moment so I won't have to be all anxious as I read the first half ;).

    Love the new template layout!

  2. Great review! Now I want to read it, I'll have to go hunt it up. Thanks Karen, I think you're trying to get everyone 'to read stack' to look like yours! LOL

  3. Nice review!!!! Sound like a super-great book!!! Love your blog, by the way! =)

  4. great review and this is book I have been wanting to read for a while.

  5. WOnderful review, I soo can not wait to read this one, even more now!

  6. You made the acknowledgements? :-) Squee!
    (Check the acknowledgements in Melissa Marr's Fragile Eternity--"Tiger" is in the mix there somewhere).

    This book was already on my GOodreads TBR, but your review solidified my need for it.

  7. great review! :) i can't wait to read this. i've been craving a YA-wolf-book binge lately, since i finished shiver :P

  8. Karen,

    Thank you for reading and reviewing (and bidding and winning) 13 to Life. This was a very thorough review and I agree very much with your thoughts, particularly:

    "Sometimes I didn’t understand why this all needed to be so complicated on Jess’s part. I wanted to yell – “Just listen to Amy!!”" (As the author, I walk a tightrope between staying true to the complicated nature of certain characters and making sure they act logically/understandably--which many of us don't do all the time.;) Believe me, there were times I wanted to shake Jess, but if she wasn't written this way, she wouldn't be Jess.)

    Glad you liked my concept for my wolf lore--I can tell you there will be even more werewolfy goodness in book 2 and the relationship between Pietr and Jess gets shaken up a little. More's revealed about everyone and the trouble(and weirdness) only deepens in Junction. *G*

    Thanks for letting me know about the review being posted via Twitter. When you get a chance to post it elsewhere online, please do--it's very helpful (especially to debut authors).

    Take care!