By Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: YA Mystery
Natasha’s sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn’t try to kill her?
Natasha is the most popular girl in school. So why was she pulled out of a freezing river after being dead for thirteen minutes? She doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this—it wasn’t an accident, and she wasn’t suicidal.
Now Natasha’s two closest friends, who are usually her loyal sidekicks, are acting strangely. Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before, to help her figure out the mystery.
At first Becca isn’t sure that she even wants to help Natasha. But as she is drawn back into Natasha’s orbit, Becca starts putting the pieces together. As an outsider, Becca believes she may be the only one who can uncover the truth…which is far more twisted than she ever imagined.
I am not even sure what direction to take this review as the book managed to successfully pull me in so many different ones. 13 Minutes left me spellbound and frustrated for a multitude of reasons. I was unable to put it down.
Natasha (Tasha) awakens to discover she was dead for 13 minutes after being recovered from a local river. With no recollection of the events preceding her death, she is haunted by the number 13. 13 books on the shelf, 13 steps. And why are her two best friends behaving so oddly? When an old friend Becca re-enters Natasha’s life, the truth slowly begins to surface. But sometimes reality is far more disturbing than anyone could predict.
13 Minutes is a stunning example of clever narration and character manipulation at its finest. Therein lied my very frustration and adoration for this compelling story. I despised every character in this book for a variety of reasons. These are some seriously malicious and self absorbed teenage girls. I grasped to find appreciation in each and only found the smallest semblance of relatability in Becca. Normally this would be detrimental for my relationship with a book, but here it works brilliantly. I found my dislike of each individual adding to the unreliable narrator effect and causing me to constantly second guess each theory as I developed it, creating that internal “tug or war” that I feel any good mystery should.
Pinborough manages to effortlessly alternate a series of events through first person point of view and dictated interviews, texts, therapy sessions and journal entries. Now this sounds messy and maybe overwhelming at first thought, but it is truly anything but! Superb execution of this approach supply the reader with a fast paced read that is shrouded in mystery from the first page to the last. Everything about 13 Minutes goes off without a hitch and delivers a whirlwind of an experience that resonates with something distinct, setting aside from other YA mysteries.
Worth note was an ingenious incorporation of the school production of The Crucible that seems to beautifully compliment the unfolding story as there is a common underlying theme that felt relevant and added to the plot-line as a whole. I am not sure how intentional this was or if I chose to read more into it, but it works so well! Accompanied with detailed world building that thrusts the reader uncomfortably back into days of high school and cliques, the stage is set for a deliciously thrilling drama ripe with angst.
My only inkling of a complaint might be the conclusion. I did find the smallest hint of predictability (but not without a few unexpected turns) and might have favored something slightly different. The ending felt rushed, but I also blame this on my desire to keep exploring these poor twisted high school students.
Overall, this was a huge success in terms of YA Mystery and I will be revisiting the author’s work in the future. I confidently recommend this to all fans of mystery, YA and Adult alike. If you favor exploring the human psych a bit or taking a deeper look at crazy, this is a must!
*I would like to thank Netgalley and Flatiron books for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased opinion.
Enjoyed with cup hot black tea flavored with vanilla.