The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

Looking for a terrifically twisty YA thriller? Try ’13 Minutes’ by Sarah Pinborough

on July 7, 2016


13 Minutes. Sarah Pinborough. Gollancz. July 2016.

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?

First of all, thank you so much to Gollancz and Netgalley for giving me the chance to review a digital ARC of this book!

Prior to this, I’d only read two other Sarah Pinborough books (Mayhem and The Death House) but I adored both of them! When I saw Sarah’s latest book on Netgalley I was so excited, especially as the blurb gave me everything I look for in a premise – intrigue, mystery, and the promise of some seriously shady shenanigans.

I had so much fun reading this book! And, yet again, I’ve found a book which managed to totally floor me with every twist and turn. I had so many theories whilst reading this book, and whilst I briefly touched on the correct one, I quickly moved on to something completely different, as Sarah managed to thoroughly convince me I had it all wrong.

One of my favourite things about this novel was the inclusion of so many different narrative perspectives. We see the main story through the eyes of Tasha (who is keeping a diary to aid the recovery of her memories from the night she was pushed into the river), and Becca (Tasha’s ex best friend, who finds herself drawn back into Tasha’s life as she attempts to work out who has tried to harm her.)

Alongside the girls’ POVs, the rest of the story unfolds in the form of newspaper articles, police notes, and text messages between Tasha’s best friends, Hayley and Jenny. I loved the multimedia storytelling, as I often get bored if I’m stuck in just one character’s head. Seeing the story from all angles created an environment where I had no idea whose perspective, if any, I could trust.

This novel was such a fascinatingly dark take on the complex friendships between teenage girls, and although I never experienced anything quite so sinister during my time at school, I found a lot of truth in this story all the same.

I’ve certainly been part of friendship groups in my time where one person was the undisputed ‘leader’ and I can testify as to how powerless and inferior that can make you feel, and how easily you can find yourself marching to the beat of someone else’s drum. I also have past experiences of bullying, and the way girls so quickly turned against one another in this novel was frighteningly realistic.

Some of the characters in this book were extremely manipulative, others were power-hungry, and others very fickle and disloyal. I didn’t find many of the characters  *likeable* per se, but I did find all of them interesting and compelling to read about. I found myself empathising with each of them at times, and wanting to slap them at others. I liked how real and flawed each of the girls were. Nobody was painted in an annoyingly perfect light, even Tasha as the victim, and I really appreciated that.

Becca and Tasha’s dynamic was especially interesting to me. We learn that Becca and Tasha used to be best friends in childhood, but Becca was promptly ditched by Tasha in their early teens when Tasha found a more *popular* friend to replace her with. Becca is now at the bottom of the social ladder, and Tasha firmly on top.

After her experience in the water, Tasha has a change of heart towards Becca, and attempts to make amends for the way she’s treated her in the past. It was interesting to see how strong Becca’s ties to Tasha were – they were knotted so tightly that Becca was willing to look past all of the hurt Tasha had caused her, and let her back into her life no questions asked.

I found Becca’s behaviour pretty thoughtless, because just as Tasha once dumped her ‘best friend forever’ Becca for a better model, so too does Becca start ditching her only friend Hannah in favour of Tasha, the shinier, more popular option who’s suddenly come back into her life.

I felt so sorry for Hannah – Becca was a TERRIBLE friend to her. Hannah may actually be one of the only wholly likeable characters in the book, besides Jamie (the man who finds Tasha in the water at the beginning of the book), and Biscuit, his dog. SO CUTE AND FLUFFY. Certain scenes in this novel will make you fiercely protective towards Biscuit. You’ll see what I mean if you read it!

The most sinister plot thread within this book was the text message exchange between Hayley and Jenny. From the very beginning it becomes clear that these two girls have something to hide, and I was thoroughly addicted to their sections of the book; I was DESPERATE to find out! Hayley and Jenny came across as extremely nasty girls, especially in how bitchy, confrontational, and downright hateful they were towards Becca. However, surprisingly there were times when I also empathised with them – Jenny in particular, who came across as an extremely messed up girl with some serious issues.

Tasha herself was an interesting character, and I couldn’t really work her out. I found her just as bitchy as Jenny and Hayley on occasion, particularly in some of her private thoughts, which she records in the diary, but I also empathised with her because she seemed so vulnerable.

Even if she was reluctant to admit it, Tasha’s words painted a very clear picture of the psychological impact of finding out she was clinically dead for 13 minutes (which couldn’t have been an easy pill to swallow!) It was interesting to see how this incident led to her reassessing her priorities in life and seeking comfort in the company of her childhood friend. I also strongly felt her fear as she described her nightmares of the ‘darkness’ sucking her down, reminiscent of her only real memory from the night she drowned.

If you’re looking for a pacey read with moody, atmospherically beautiful writing, and a twisty, page-turner of a plot, I highly recommend you pick this one up!


18 responses to “Looking for a terrifically twisty YA thriller? Try ’13 Minutes’ by Sarah Pinborough

  1. mebookaholic says:

    I have read The Death House from Pinborough and I loved it. I think she has a unique style of writing and themes on her books.
    Great Review! Really enjoyed it x

  2. This sounds amazing! It is now on my TBR pile. 🙂

  3. I’ve just finished reading this and I totally agree with everything you’ve said! Such a great read and a really good review. 🙂 x

    • mudandstars says:

      Aww thank you 😀 Ooh I’m so glad you enjoyed this one too! I look forward to seeing your review! Did you guess the ending or did you have a totally different theory? I thought about it for a second, but then decided I was wrong and forgot about it, so I ended up being genuinely shocked! x

  4. Ooooo how I love shady shenanigans!!! I’ve been seeing this book around lately and that cover is so alluring! Great review as usual 🙂

  5. tanazmasaba says:

    I have never read any of this author’s book but if you loved it so much I am sure it’s worth the read. When does it get released?

    • mudandstars says:

      Ooh her books are fantastic, highly recommend them! And I hope you enjoy this one if you decide to check it out. Well, it’s strange because when I checked before the release date was 16th July, but I checked Amazon again and it now seems to be available! 🙂

  6. Lovely Review 🙂 I am always down for a good thriller 🙂

    • mudandstars says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂 In that case, I think you’ll really enjoy this one! What are you favourite thrillers? I’m always looking for recommendations 🙂

  7. H. Lee says:

    Thanks for the review! The blurb sounds sooo good, I can’t wait to run and find this book and start reading it!! I have recently discovered a love for thrillers!

    • mudandstars says:

      You’re welcome!! 🙂 Ahh that’s great, I really hope you enjoy it! I’m a big thriller fan. Which ones did you read recently? I’m always on the lookout for recommendations 🙂

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