Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Review: The Thirteenth by G. L. Twynham
Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing
Released: November 20th, 2009
Grade rating: B+
Imagine starting at the end and finishing back at the beginning. This is the story of a teenage girl called Valerie Saunders who is about to be thrown through time and space. Being bestowed with abilities beyond her wildest nightmares, she discovers that she not only has to deal with turning eighteen, her first job and an unwanted tattoo, but also magical powers and intense urges to fall in love. She envisaged she would spend her life blending into the scenery, not blowing it up! Val has a calling, but which side is dialling her number?
I'm always dubious about reading self-published novels, and I'm not sure why. Some of them are brilliant and very readable, the latest of which I've discovered to be The Thirteenth. It's compelling and exciting and, for the most part, well-edited. One thing that did bother me was the lack of contractions - 'it's', 'we're' etc. - as it always drives me mad. Teenagers just don't speak like that, and it makes for hard reading. I can look past it though, which is exactly what I did here.
Twynham knows how to spin a good story, and one that crosses numerous genres at that. The Thirteenth is like sci-fi meets horror meets paranormal romance, and I still don't know which one it's supposed to be. There are elements of everything in there, even some mystery just to shake things up.
Val is a strong, relatable protagonist, and one I ended up really liking. Her friend Delta is also a fun to get to know, and the two of them make quite a team. The addition of father-son team Shane and Jason nicely rounds out the cast of characters, kind of making them into their own Scooby Gang.
There are lots of surprises in The Thirteenth, some that I saw coming and some that I didn't. I was so shocked at the end, and I have no idea how Twynham kept me in the dark for all that time. Val's constant missions kept me glued to the pages, though I do wish she would have taken a bit more time to fully accept what was happening to her. I thought she dealt with it a little too easily, but that's just me.
The Thirteenth is probably the best self-published book I've read, and I think I'll be giving books like that more of a chance in the future. With a bit of polish and extra editing it could be even better than it is now, and I'm surprised a major publisher hasn't picked it up yet. It seems just the thing to appeal to YA fans who are getting tired of the same old plot and are seeking something new. I'll definitely be recommending this one to some friends of mine!