When I first started reading Sarah Pinborough’s 13 Minutes, a psychological thriller, I didn’t have too many expectations, to be honest. I had picked up the book mainly because of the intriguing cover and Stephen King’s testimonial on it.
Few pages in, it seemed more like a YA book version of Pretty Little Liars, not to put down anyone who likes the show. The book is a story of Natasha Howland, a ‘Barbie’, the most popular girl at her high school who is found almost dead by the river one morning. She remembers little about how she landed in the river to begin with, but knows one thing for sure: It was no accident. As a police case is kicked off, ‘Tasha’ battles with nightmares and suspicions surrounding her best friends that refuse to die down. As she tries to piece the clues together using her ex-friend, Becca, things take several unexpected turns. Did her friends really try to kill her? Why?
The one thing you can’t take away from the book is that it is definitely a page-turner. Sometimes the narration becomes a bit too much to take, especially when they talk in first person, but even then it seldom affects the pace of the story.
What I liked:
- The ‘realism’. Pinborough manages to stay true to how people actually talk, whether it’s cuss words or slang.
- The POV often shifts from first person between two characters to third person, but it’s done really skillfully. Definitely a lesson for writers who have difficulty in this area.
What I didn’t like:
- Sometimes the drama gets a little OTT, and I had to really resist rolling my eyes where it just became too fake.
- An unnecessary romance seems just that – unnecessary. It doesn’t add anything to the plot.
In a nutshell, this is an interesting read, even if sometimes a trudge. Even though it appears to be an OTT teenage girl drama in places, the writer manages to sketch the psyche of a seemingly-normal teenager with admirable ease and weave it into a crime fiction that’s unputdownable (is that a word?).
Title: 13 Minutes
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Get it here.