13 Minutes is an incredible novel. Sarah Pinborough’s writing really got under my skin in a way that very few authors really manage to do. It is about the shifting allegiances that make up teenaged girls friendships and frankly it is terrifying.
The novel centres around the relationship between Natasha and Becca. Two girls who had been close but secondary school and new friendships had meant that Becca had been unceremoniously dropped whilst Natasha and her pretty, trendy friends Hayley and Jenny became school’s popular clique the Barbies.
The novel opens with Tasha dead before being recovered by a dog walker. Tasha has no memory of how she ended up in the water and what she had been doing out so late at night. Becca despite not having spoken to Tasha in three years finds herself drawn back into a friendship with this charismatic girl.
The novel depicts the brutal way that teenaged girls can treat each other. Friendships that seem rock solid at primary school can be ripped apart at secondary school. Teenaged girls can be like sharks utterly barbaric in their attacks. This novel fascinated me and horrified me in equal measure. It felt honest and truthful in its depictions of teenaged girls. Becca and Tasha are the main protagonists with Becca being the slightly more sympathetic character. Becca was the dumped friend and the one who has gone a bit alternative.
The novel is presented in a variety of ways, news reports, traditional narrative, Tasha’s diary, police reports and other evidence. This gives the novel a kind of jigsaw appearance as things jump around in time to fill in the blanks as to what had happened to Tasha.
This being a Sarah Pinborough novel there are are twists a plenty and completely sublime ending that made my hair stand on end. It is a relentless read, I didn’t want to stop, I was making cups of tea one handed and raced my way through. It left me thinking about the story with a book hangover for a few days and I can’t give a book higher compliment than that.