Sarah Pinborough is a genius. I absolutely adored her latest book The Death House (and its cover) and am incredibly jealous of Sophie – who met Sarah at an event last year. I got my own back though by receiving an approval for 13 Minutes on NetGalley before she did. Check out her review of The Death House.
Another YA-Crossover, 13 Minutes is dark, twisted and – to quote Ron – bloody brilliant. I know I say this a lot but – look at the cover! I’m such a fan of any Gollancz cover to be fair. This one’s out 18th February in Hardback.
“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 was thrilled when I started reading to find a character called Hayley. Then disappointed, because she’s a bit of a bitch. Her, Jenny and the queen bee Tasha are the classic ‘Plastics’, or Barbies in this case. Gorgeous, popular and downright mean, they’re a walking cliche…Until Tasha dies. It seems to shock her into being nice, to returning to her friend Becca, whose eyes we see the story from for most of the book. Becca is the loner, the abandoned friend who wasn’t quite good enough for the Barbies but found solace in love instead. She finds herself drawn into the mess when Tasha reaches out to her after waking up after drowning. Tasha can’t remember why, but she knows something isn’t right, that something happened with Jenny and Hayley.
I loved the passages which were in the first person from Tasha, mixed in among police reports and transcripts with the therapist so the novel read like a YA crime, thriller with an adult tone but YA characters. We saw Tasha’s vulnerability in her chapters, the confused emotions she couldn’t make sense of because of her amnesia and then the spiteful thoughts which would seep through from her underlying nasty pre-death personality.
It’s difficult to review this book whilst trying not to spoil anything but it’s like a YA version of Gone Girl. Dark and twisting, making you suspect everyone. I love that it’s a YA too – it makes it even darker that young girls could be so cruel and even murderous.
What’s great about it, is that about three-quarters of the way through, the murderer(s) is/are caught. And you think – there must be a twist then. There can’t be 100 pages left of just, aftermath. It’s fantastic – you’re trying to work out the truth, if they’ve really solved it or if there’s more to it, knowing that Sarah is probably going to flip things on its head at some point.
The ending chilled me – after a while I saw it coming, I figured out Sarah’s clues but it didn’t make the final pages any less striking, any less disturbing.
A book that was genuinely exciting to read, with pace, mystery and a brilliantly complex cast, I would strongly recommend 13 Minutes. And then go and read The Death House too.