Monday, February 21, 2011

Jenn's Review: Secrets and Shadows

Secrets and Shadows: A 13 to Life NovelSummary:  Nothing’s simple when you run with werewolves. Jess Gillmansen thinks she’s seen it all but her eyes are about to be opened to even more danger and a reality far more paranormal than she’s suspected. With Jess’s realization that the Rusakovas’ mother is still alive and imprisoned, the group’s choices become harder and trust more important. Lines are drawn and relationships change as the broken Rusakova family struggles to reunite long enough to free their mother and people who Jess always just took to be normal people show themselves to be much, much more.

Review:  I have been looking forward to the release of Secrets and Shadows, the second book in the 13 to Life series by Shannon Delany since I closed the cover on book one in September.  Ms. Delany does not disappoint, in fact I'd say she exceeds expectations!

I know some readers were frustrated that Secrets and Shadows does not pick up right where 13 to Life left off, but really, I never expected it to.  We come back a few months later.  Jessie is having trouble dealing with not only her mother's death, but her recent run in with the Russian mob, constant intrusion by the CIA, and a werewolf boyfriend who is dating her best friend and who seems to be pulling away from her.  It'd be a lot for any teenager to handle.  And even then it wouldn't be so bad except that strange things have started to happen all over town.  Perhaps there are scarier things out there than a family of werewolves...

I love that we learn more about Jessie's friends and acquaintances, although there is not necessarily a lot to love about what we learn about them.  Jessie is a little slow on the uptake that Pietr is pushing her away to protect her (which is funny, because she mentions that she's read Twilight) to the point of me wanting to shake her a couple of times.  Unlike Twilight, however, she doesn't sit around mooning over it, but tries to move on.  She's even trying to keep the peace by becoming the mediator between the Ruskova's and the CIA.  However, there are so many forces working against them, many of which she knows nothing about, it seems a bit of a Sisyphean task.

This was hard to put down.  The action just keeps rolling as Jessie's life keeps unravelling.  I found Delany's writing to be much smoother in this book, with far fewer instances of plot-line jumps.  There were still a couple of times I backtracked to see if I missed something, but those times were few and far between.  As a reader though, I would surmise that if you haven't read 13 to Life recently, there are things that back-reference which a casual reader might miss.  Not that I found it an issue, but if you're one of those skimmers, I'm giving you fair warning.

Bargains and Betrayals: A 13 to Life Novel
If 13 to Life was the snowball that started the avalanche, Secrets and Shadows is the express train that barely slows for passenger embarkation or disembarkation.  As it raced to the finish line, things foreshadowed come to fruition and things unimagined unfold.  Needless to say, I'm thrilled that I will only have to wait until mid-August (8/16 to be precise) to continue my journey with Jessie and the Ruskova's in Bargains and Betrayals.  If you love YA paranormal romance, you must check out this series!

Final Take:  4.5/5.0

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