The whole idea behind 13 Minutes was really exciting to me – a girl, dead for thirteen minutes, has no memory behind what happened and tries to figure out what happened and why, while also keeping her best friends and ex-best friend in check. Not only does this book have a lot of girl drama, it also has an unreliable narrator who makes the book even more exciting.
Natasha was found in a river, and she was dead for thirteen minutes before paramedics got her heart started again. Thirteen minutes that Natasha has no memory of, as well as a whole night that she can’t piece together – how did she get to the river? Who texted her he night she she was found, asking her to meet there? There has to be some vital information that Tasha can’t remember, but what?
Determined to get to the bottom of it, Tasha stays close to her two best friends, and she tries to start up a friendship with her old friend, Becca. She thinks that if Becca and the other girls become friends, they will be more inclined to tell her what actually happened that night, because Tasha is convinced that they have something to do with it, or at the very least, that they know something about what really happened.
As Tasha tries her hardest to find out what happened, including keeping a journal and talking to her psychologist, Becca is also faced with her very own problems, including issues with her current best friend, Hannah, and the boy she is completely in love with, Aidan.
This has been called “Mean Girls for the Instagram age,” and I find this pretty accurate for the book. It definitely has a total Mean Girls vibe going on, and it is a reminder of how cruel girls, especially those considered best friends, can be.
One thing that kind of bugged me about this book was the fact that it jumps back and forth between narrators – for example, Natasha will be narrating one chapter, while the next chapter will be narrated by Becca. This ordinarily wouldn’t bother me, because I think more than one point of view is a great way to get to know the characters, but in this case, I really disliked how they weren’t always labeled, and I had to go back and try and figure out who was narrating. There were also text messages between Tasha’s best friends, as well as some transcripts from Tasha and her therapist, and some from Becca and her therapist. There are entries from Tasha’s journal entries, too, so this book really gives you a good look at what’s going on with each of the girls. Essentially you are given small pieces of what is going on, little by little, and you get to figure out the mystery for yourself.
This, of course, makes this book a little bit difficult to review, because I don’t want to give the whole thing away.
“The fractures between us have proved to be fault lines we can’t repair and today has become a hellish nightmare. All that hate I never realized was there. And now this terrible thing has happened. I can’t quite comprehend it.”
One thing that I liked about this book that really set it apart is the fact Tasha is quite the unreliable narrator. Not only does she have no memory of things that happened the night she was pulled from the river, but she also seems like she might have ulterior motives, especially when she befriends Becca again. I enjoyed watching that whole situation unfold. She is likeable and not likeable at the same time, if that makes any sense.
Becca is another character that is both likeable and not likeable at the same time, and even though I finished this book a few days ago, to be completely honest I still don’t know how I felt about her. Parts of me wanted to love her, but other parts of me found her kind of…I don’t know, annoying, maybe? She was whiny at times and I guess that irked me. Okay, maybe most of the time. She also treated her best friend, Hannah, like she was nothing once Natasha stepped back into her life.
While it might seem like I really didn’t like the characters, at the same time, I think they really made the book. I honestly couldn’t imagine these characters any other way – they were truly complex and well suited for this book!
13 Minutes is full of twists and turns that I have to honestly admit that I never saw coming – I had no idea what was going to happen next, and I even tried to stop anticipating what was going to happen next because the author has a way of keeping you on your toes. Every time I thought I knew what was going on, my theory went right out the window. If you are a reader who likes to be surprised by what you’re reading, this is a great one to consider adding to your shelf.
Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.
Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in nearly 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist.
You can follow her on Twitter @sarahpinborough
- 1 ARC of 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough
- U.S. Only