13 Minutes is one of the novels you read in one or two bites, rushing at breakneck speed because you can sense this underlying malice, malice and misdirection. You know that you’re following the breadcrumbs into a track, but you just can’t stop.
The novel opens with the death of a high school girl named Tasha, Natasha Howland. She died for a critical thirteen minutes that gave the title its name and gave her a fixation the number thirteen. Luckily for her, it was a cold-water drowning and she was revived with little long term damage other than some nightmares and amnesia that prevents her from knowing how she ended up in the river where she died and was revived.
Becca, her former best friend shows up at the hospital to show support and even reads to her while she is in a coma. Tasha finds herself drawing Becca closer which alternately pleases and baffles Becca. They had been best friends, Tasha, Hayley and Becca until puberty sent Becca through an awkward stage that left her abandoned by her old friends, replaced by a more beautiful student named Jenny. Becca called them the Barbies and it fit. But now, after the accident, Tasha has time for Becca and she can’t quite resist her old friend, even if it means neglecting her current best friend Hannah.
Becca can’t quite resist the temptation of being part of the in crowd, of being popular. Also, there is the mystery of it all that appeals to her intellect and her imagination. Tasha lets slip a few hints that perhaps her friends Hayley and Jenny don’t want Tasha to remember. After all, somehow or other Tasha did end up near dying in that river. The police half suspect Becca’s boyfriend, another reason to be on guard.
Then there is another death, one that brings forth all sorts of revelations, but is there resolution? Not for Becca.
13 Minutes is suspenseful and fair. As you begin to suspect the truth, the question becomes less whodunnit and more can Becca prove it. It’s an exciting conclusion, satisfying and fair. I found it engrossing although a very harsh and jaded perspective on high school and school relationships. This seems at first a story of friendships but becomes more about the facades and distances between people, the absence of friendship.
There is a spider at the center of 13 Minutes who weaves a web of deceit and destruction, manipulating everyone with ease. There are some ways she seems so complex and yet in other ways, so very one dimensional. However, when it comes right down to the horrible banality of motive, it was all too real.