cover image 13 to Life

13 to Life

Shannon Delany, St. Martin's Griffin, $9.99 paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-60914-6

Delany's debut launches a paranormal series with a thoughtful but flawed exploration of emotionally wounded teens. Sixteen-year-old Jessica spends her days mourning her mother, mooning over football star Derek, and tiptoeing around her accident-altered best friend, Sarah. She doesn't want complications like Pietr Rusakova in her life, but doesn't have a choice when she is assigned to guide the newcomer around school. Soon Pietr and Jessica are setting off romantic sparks, but she pushes him away—Sarah has her eye on him. When Jessica learns Pietr's biggest secret—that he and his siblings are werewolves—she becomes involved in a complicated web that includes the Russian mafia, the CIA, and ticking time-bomb Sarah. The plot has some problems (particularly that no one gives Sarah details about her accident), but Delany effectively probes what makes a monster, how being too selfless can be damaging to the soul, and whether it's possible to rewrite a person's personality. Readers who can overlook the plot issues will likely be caught up in the story's potential to explode, but will have to wait for the next installment for the boom. Ages 13–up. (July)