Natasha Howland had been dead for 13 minutes when she’s resuscitated. She can’t remember how she ended up in the icy river. She’s certain it wasn’t a suicide attempt and she doesn’t think it was an accident. But who would want to hurt her, the most popular girl in school?

Female friendships can be complicated, and there’s a definite love/hate dynamic in 13 Minutes. Jealousies, manipulation, suspicions, loyalty and love, this has it all. They are all that that point in their lives where things are changing; friendships don’t last forever, people do grow apart or break apart, and sometimes it’s just better to leave it. Yet there is still that desire to belong, no one wants to be that kid after all.

None of the characters are perfect. Becca is just as capable of being mean as the mean girls, or the Barbies as she likes to call them. Even when Hannah is supposedly her best friend, she’s still pretty disparaging about her, wishing she had more backbone or wasn’t such a goody two shoes. The girls drink, smoke, do drugs and have sex. They lie to their parents and sneak out. They lie to each other.

The main narrative is third person, mostly following Becca. However there are also Tasha’s journal entries, notes from the police investigation, text message conversations and newspaper reports. I liked how there were a number of papers used for each event, showing how different the slant can be, from pure facts to sensationalism. The use of narrative styles is crucial to how the whole thing plays out. We put so much trust upon communications that we can’t verify.

There was some really interesting things to be said regarding teenagers’ perspective on adults, that they feel there is a huge gap between them. School may be different now to when their parents went, but every generation thinks their own world is unique and how could adults possibly understand anything. Yet as things become clearer to Becca, you also see her responding to adults differently, seeing them through new eyes.

There was a point where it was all wrapping up and I was nowhere near the end. And then this dawning realisation creeps up. It’s so good. And it’s no coincidence that the school play is The Crucible. I think I was expecting something more supernatural based on Sarah’s previous books and the imprint. There’s a hint at something other, but you could read it either way really. It’s a very strong contemporary, young adult thriller without it.

13 Minutes is published by Gollancz and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 18th February 2016. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.