Author – Sarah Pinborough
Published – 18 February 2016
Genre – Crime fiction
My only experience of something written by Sarah Pinborough was The Death House, so I wasn’t sure whether to expect something similar from 13 Minutes but while this book also centres around a group of teenagers it really couldn’t more different.
The 13 Minutes of the title is the amount of time that Tasha was dead for, after she was discovered in a river early one morning. Although she recovers quickly she has no recollection of how she ended up in the water or the hours leading up to it. She is sure that it wasn’t an accident and it wasn’t suicide.
In the aftermath of the incident Tasha rekindles her friendship with Becca; they’d stopped being friends some time ago when she decided that Becca wasn’t cool enough. And here we have the essence of the story – teenage girls and the ups and downs of their friendships, and they can be pretty toxic. Which means that this reminded me more of Dare Me than The Death House. None of the girls are particularly likeable or perhaps that’s just how they see themselves and each other; it’s Becca that I was empathising with the most, but even she has her faults.
The story is woven together using multiple points of view – from the DI investigating the case to the diary Tasha writes for her psychiatrist, and from newspaper articles to texts between Tasha’s closest friends. The different perspectives help the author develop the mystery angle of the story and switching points of view allows the pace to vary. Perhaps that might feel fragmented but I enjoyed the different format of the sources and voices of the characters.
The story is compelling, as Tasha tries to figure out what happened to her. The relationships between the different girls ebb and flow in the first days after her brush with death but it’s Becca that she enlists to help her investigate. They conspire together as the police are undertaking their own investigation – which has some direct implications for Becca. And just when you think the book must have reached the end it keeps on going – intriguing eh?!
A great read and a reminder of what it was like to be a teenage girl (and how glad I am that’s in the past!). Thanks to the publisher for the review copy – you can see another point of view on Lizzy’s blog.