Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. In no way does this affect the contents of my review. If you’d like to read my Review Policy, you can check it out here.
I was dead for 13 minutes.
I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?
I’ve been hunting high and low for Young Adult crime, mystery or thriller books that tickle my pickle recently, and 13 Minutes hits the spot. Complex female characters? Tick. Nuanced portrayal of of teen friendships? Yup. A sharply written, twisty plot that kept me up long after my bed time? Hell to the yes. If I lose sleep over a book, there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a good’un.
This is a wonderfully crafted, twisty little novel that portrays some fascinating relationships. They, along with the central mystery of ‘Natasha’s near death experience: accident or attempted murder?’ kept me turning those pages long into the night, and in my lunch breaks, and before I went to work and…well, you get the picture.
Pinborough writes teenagers exceedingly well, using the characters to explore family lives, drugs, sex and relationships both platonic and romantic. Thankfully my school days were never as toxic (or downright dangerous, for that matter) as the ones portrayed in this novel, but the author really does hit the nail on the head when it comes to expressing how difficult female friendships can be when you’re young, impressionable and struggling to find your way in the world. Three most certainly isn’t the magic number here, and feelings of exclusion, jealously, betrayal and longing are palpable in the tense prose.
I really rated the way that the book was structured. Reading from both Becca and Natasha’s perspectives employed the old favourite ‘unreliable narrator’ technique to great effect, keeping me on my toes as every shocking twist and turn played out. The decision to use other mediums like diary entries, police reports, recordings and text messages was a clever stroke; adding texture and exposing the motivations of the key players layer by painstaking layer.
There’s a reason that I always come back to thriller or crime books, and that’s because as a reader, I crave the element of surprise and that OHMYGODWHAT moment you get when you finally puzzle it out. I actively want to be challenged, kept on tenterhooks and creeped out by the plot and the characters. Like a Gillian Flynn for the YA market, 13 Minutes achieved all of this without coming up for breath. Bravo.
- Author: Sarah Pinborough
- Publication Date: 14th July 2016 (First published 18th February 2016)
- Publisher: Gollancz
- Pages: 320
- Rating: 5/5
- In short: Gillian Flynn meets Mean Girls.