PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Better known to Starburst readers for her work of the Torchwood novelizations and Young Adult series The London Stone, Sarah Pinborough is highly sought after at the moment thanks to the success of her deliciously dark dystopian novel The Death House. If you enjoyed that book, you’re going to be delighted with what she did next.

Her latest work, 13 Minutes, eschews the trappings of genre to deliver a rather straightforward but skilfully woven thriller. The novel begins with a man walking his dog, only to notice a girl lying face down in the water. Quick thinking and a spot of heroism saves young Tasha’s life, but doctors say that she was dead for 13 minutes.

Was she pushed? Did she fall in? Tasha can’t remember. All of this adds to the young woman’s mystique; Tasha was already part of the prettiest yet bitchiest clique in school and with the added air of death defying mystery, things seem set to spiral out of control. Has coming back from the dead changed Tasha, and is that why she’s spending time with her long abandoned childhood chum Becca?

Pinborough uses multiple perspectives and techniques to pull the reader into the story. Diary entries, text messages and the usual unreliable narrators are all employed to keep the reader on their toes, as this all-human drama of self-loathing and manipulation unfolds.

From the rebellious but insecure rock-chick Becca to the pretty-yet-desperate Jenny, Pinborough has created a cast of extremely believable teenagers, their stories compelling right to the end. Truly gripping thrillers are quite rare. Despite the name, usually there's some point where the pace slows down, but Pinborough is relentless throughout. This is an addictive read, a true page-turner. The story is so cleverly presented and superbly done that we expect this book to be talked about for a very long time.


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