ARC Review: 13 Minutes

13 Minutes

Title: 13 Minutes

Author: Sarah Pinborough

Series: N/A

Publisher: Orion Publishing Group

Release Date: February 18th 2016


Five Stars

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?

– Blurb courtesy of

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“If I can just reach the branches I might be able to pull myself to the back, if I can just stop myself from going under – and what time is it, what time is it – and oh fuck I can’t feel my hands. The thin twigs are scalpels on my dying blue skin this is a terrible mistake and what the fuck time is it and…
…I suck in a deep breath, tearing pain through my lungs again, but the air is warm and sweet and there’s no freezing water choking me.”

13 Minutes is a psychological thriller/crime mystery unlike anything else I’ve ever read before. When I read books like this I find myself always trying to guess the ending and who committed the crime, but with 13 Minutes everything I thought I knew was completely turned on its head so many times that whenever I thought I knew what was coming next I was always left surprised.

When Jamie is walking his dog through the woods by the river early one morning the last thing he expects to see is a dead girl in the water. Natasha is still alive but barely, revived after being dead for thirteen minutes she is taken to the hospital. When she wakes from her coma she has no memory of what led to her death; she isn’t sure why she was out in the woods early that morning and she is not sure how she ended up in the water. What she does know is that she definitely did not try and kill herself, and that her best friends are hiding something from her.

She starts to suspect that Hayley and Jenny aren’t telling her the truth and while she doesn’t want to believe they had anything to do with her death she can’t deny they are acting strange around her. When the body of another girl is found in the same river Natasha was the police step up the hunt for the person responsible for Nicola’s death and Natasha’s accident. Unable to ignore her suspicions Tasha confides in the one person she knows she can trust.

“Becca suddenly got it. It wasn’t that Tasha had changed her mind about anything. She was just afraid. Pure and simple. Frustrated as she was, Becca could understand it. Tasha had died in that freezing water. Tasha was the one who was lucky to be resuscitated. And it was Tasha who was faced with the truth that maybe her two best friends had something to do with it.”

Becca was once Tasha’s best friend forever, but she was dumped years ago and replaced with Jenny. It’s only after Tasha’s accident that the two start to become close again. Unsure of Hayley and Jenny Tasha latches back onto Becca and confides in her of her suspicions of her two supposed best friends. Though Becca’s friend Hannah warns her about Tasha Becca ignores the warnings and helps Tasha to try and discover what really happened that night. As they start to uncover something sinister that happened that night between Tasha, Hayley and Jenny, Aiden, Becca’s boyfriend, is suspected of Nicola’s murder and Natasha’s attempted murder. Becca begs Natasha to tell the truth about what she suspects, to take the heat off Aiden but Tasha still can’t remember anything about her accident. Or so she says.

After being dead for thirteen minutes Natasha is facing issues of her own. She is terrified of the dark and of falling asleep, she suffers from nightmares of her own time dead in the water, and she keeps seeing things in groups of thirteen, always thirteen. Thirteen raindrops on her window, thirteen blocks between her friend’s houses. She can’t believe her best friends had anything to do with her accident but she can’t deny the evidence that her and Becca are uncovering.

…The Characters

“Forever. That word haunted her. Best friends forever. I’ll love you forever.
Forever had turned out to be flighty.”

Becca can be very insecure at times. When Natasha and Hayley, her best friends forever, dumped her it hurt and has affected a lot of her relationships in the present. With her boyfriend Aiden she fears that he will one day find someone better than her and leave her, despite his claims that he will love her forever. But underneath her insecurities she is an incredibly smart person, and very much like any other sixth former. She wants to impress her teachers and do well in school so she can escape her small home town.

The relationship between Becca and Aiden is fraught with tension, the three years between them feels like a lot longer to Becca when she is still in Sixth Form and Aiden has left school and is working a full-time job.

“It’s like in that diary. I wasn’t perfect in it. But I was believable.” She smiled, broad and happy. “Believable is all that matters.”

Tasha is the most popular girl in school. She is constantly surrounded by admirers and she wields absolute control over her best friends. Her word is law. She is used to getting what she wants from her parents but she doesn’t come across as spoilt, just sure of herself. Like Becca she is very smart but she seems detached from her classmates and teachers. She doesn’t understand Becca’s relationship with Aiden or Hayley’s and Jenny’s relationships with their crushes.

“She was good. She didn’t even look back as they sauntered off. I looked over at Jenny. She’d locked eye momentarily with Hayley.
Everything was in the subtext, there in the noise of the theatre. The secrets humming inside us.
‘What web are you weaving,’ I wondered, as I looked from one of my perfect Friends Forever to the other.”

The accident that nearly cause Tasha’s death and her subsequent investigation alongside Becca of what really happened that night doesn’t just affect the two of them. The friendships and relationships that people form in high school can be very intense and they either last or they don’t. Sarah Pinborough has created some very real relationships in this book. The different friendships that formed between Becca, Tasha, Hayley, and Jenny all felt very intense; the almost one-upmanship between Tasha and Hayley and Jenny, the closeness that comes from shared secrets between Hayley and Jenny, and Tasha and Becca.

…The Setting

“The hive, as she thought of their school sometimes, had been buzzing since the news broke. Texts, Whatsapp, Instagram pictures of Natasha’s beautiful smiling face, tweets of everyone’s shock and upset, the whole school proclaiming how much they loved her, as if somehow a part of what had happened to her could their theirs too. #TashaForeva was probably trending by now.”

Reading this book I found it impossible not to get dragged into the story; what actually happened to Tasha in the woods that night? What was it that led her to the river and what happened that caused her to drown and die for thirteen minutes? Sarah Pinborough weaves a very powerful tale that will keep you gripped and guessing until the very last page has been turned. In spite of all the drama that surrounds Tasha and her drowning the high school experiences of Tasha and Becca all felt very real; the rise and fall of popularity, and the social nuances that seem so important in high school.

I cannot recommend 13 Minutes enough. I did not see the ending coming a mile away but it was so brilliantly done that looking back it seemed obvious at times. The whole story was incredibly well-written and I think there is something in it that everyone will enjoy.

What did you think of 13 Minutes? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.

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