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… (From www.Goodreads.com)
Werewolves are my favorite paranormal being. Knowing that, you would think I would love 13 to Life, a book about werewolves, but unfortunately it didn’t do it for me. I really wanted to like this book, heck, I bought the book. I enjoyed it for the first 150 pages or so but the rest of the book fell flat.
Jessie recently lost her mother in car accident and hasn’t been the same since. She continues on with her life, does all the chores on her family’s farm, she attends guidance counselor sessions at school, and even helps the person responsible for her mother’s death get back to health. One of Jessie’s most admirable and notable qualities is putting others before herself.
Jessie is tasked with showing the new boy Pietr Rusakova around school for several days. She soon learns that something is very strange about him and he has a past that he’s not talking about. The two develop a relationship that teeters between friendship and love. As their relationship progresses, Pietr’s mystery is very slowly revealed to Jessie but results in an unsettling turn of events.
My favorite characters were Pietr and Amy, Jessie’s close friend. Pietr is Russian, cool, and kind and overall a very likeable character. Amy is the comic relief in this book and her sense of humor was very appreciated.
The author’s quirky references to teen fantasy literature made me laugh out loud.
Unfortunately, there was a lot that I did not like. Here it goes. The writing lacked detail and good story telling. The characters participate in typical high school activities and I really can’t tell you the point of most of the events in the book. There were many scenes that I felt she could have described better and could have given the reader a clearer picture of what was going on. The book was only 308 pages, she could have added a lot more to the book just by developing scenes, characters, plot, culture, history, scenery, etc.
I was also not impressed with the ending. It was supposed to be all action packed but I really just found it rushed and unclear. Once again, I felt that the ending lacked important development.
More things I didn’t like…Pietr likes Jessie almost from the beginning of the book and wastes no time in getting to the point and kissing Jessie. Despite her feelings towards Pietr, Jessie pushes him away and sends him into the arms of her friend Sarah, who also has the hots for Pietr. Even though Pietr likes Jessie and continues to kiss Jessie, he still dates Sarah, throughout the entire book. I absolutely hated that he was dating Sarah while he was obviously in love with Jessie. I really did not like this and, once again, I didn’t see the point of Pietr and Sarah’s annoying, nearly non-existent relationship. Also, I don’t like how the author passes over Pietr and Jessie’s cheating behavior as if it’s normal and okay, especially since this book is geared towards teens.
This book left me with two many questions, and not in the good way. There were scenes that weren’t believable to me and made it hard to get into the book. Here are just a few of my many questions:
- What does the title of this book mean? What does it have to do with the story? – Please feel free to comment if you know the answer to this question.
- Why is Jessie pulled out of class to show Pietr around school? This is really not believable and no good reason is given for why Jessie is chosen either to lead Pietr around.
- Why does Pietr ignore Jessie in the beginning and then suddenly take an incredible amount of interest in her?
Pietr has a scar on his chest that Jessie intimately touches in the middle of gym class. What is it from? Why isn’t the gym teacher stepping in here?
- Why does Alexi/Sasha have two names? Why do they refer to him by both names in the same scene? Is this some Russian thing? What’s the point? – Pick one name and stick with it.
- While spying on Pietr through Skype, Jessie overhears Alexi/Sasha’s plan to make her take a test to prove her loyalty to the family. In the next chapter, Pietr never explains to Jessie that she has to take a test to prove her loyalty. He just tells her that she doesn’t have to do this. Did he find out that she was spying on him?
- What is the point of the test Pietr’s family makes Jessie take? I know it was to prove loyalty but the meaning behind was never explained. What does standing on a train track blindfolded really prove? Why was Pietr surprised by the test when he saved her? Did he not know what was happening even though he was there? I didn’t get the point of this chapter.
- Sarah reads a lot of classic literature throughout this book. It’s more like she devours it. Cool character quirk but why is it important? The author clearly notes that this is out of character for Sarah, so why does it matter? – Please explain!
- When Jessie stays out all night with Pietr and her dad catches her and scolds her, why does he then let her go out with Pietr again the next night? – This is also not believable. Any parent in their right mind would ground the girl, even if both kids apologized (Note: Pietr apologized to her dad and so that made things okay. Really?)
- Wanda is a cop? Didn’t she separate Jessie’s little sister from her at the fair? Why would she do that?
In The End…
Surprisingly, I have more questions. I know there are three books in this series and some of these questions might be addressed in those books. However, I feel that not answering these very simple questions is a sign of bad storytelling. My questions are almost insignificant but the author writes about them so, as a reader, I think there must be a point.
There is a writing theory that if you are going to write about a gun, it better go off at some point. That sums up my frustration with this book. Don’t put something in a book if your not going to explain it, introduce it, or whatever else there is you can do to it. The reader should know the purpose of scenes, odd character quirks, and they shouldn’t be distracted by stupid questions like mine. Unfortunately, my little unanswered questions ruined this book for me.
Overall, many people have given this book great reviews so I suggest you see for yourself. 13 to Life did make me want to keep reading and part of me wants to find out what happens in next two books, Secrets and Shadows and Bargains and Betrayals. Both are way better titles if you ask me.