Review: 13 on Halloween by Laura A. H. Elliott

13 on Halloween - Laura AH Elliott

Roxie has the best night of her life until the popular kids decide they want to celebrate her birthday in a way Roxie never expects––in her attic, with a gift that’s out of this world, and a pact to never tell a living soul what happens next.

Twelve-year-old Roxie wants to be like Adrianne, the popular girl who gets everything she wants––a flock to prowl around the mall with; invitations to parties; and for Hayden, the cutest guy in the eighth grade to, you know, notice her. When Roxie invites all the eighth grade peacocks (code word: popular kids) to her first ever thirteenth birthday party on Halloween, they all come and give her a gift that’s literally out of this world. Roxie astral projects to Planet Popular where she becomes seventeen instantly and gets everything she’s always wanted, but nothing is as it seems. Being a high school peacock is complicated and Roxie will risk everything to be who she thinks she wants to be. Oh yeah, there’s Prom, doppelgangers, a mysterious map, and lots of bad peacocks too.

This is how 13 on Halloween begins:

I am sick of the way Adrianne tarantulas and hamsters and cats and owls and zebras to get everything she wants.

What? I thought my Kindle copy of 13 on Halloween had something wrong with it at first. Why does this girl use animals as verbs? Fortunately — because a full book written like that would be extremely annoying — Roxie backs off this practice a lot, although she constantly talks about peacocks (popular kids) and dodos (regular kids like Roxie) and, later, pumas. You get used to it.

Roxie is a unique character who’s desperate to be a peacock. D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T-E. She’s like a lot of girls her age in that respect, which makes her very easy for anyone who’s ever been a teenage girl to relate to, and I have to give her credit for trying to make it happen. She invites all of the peacocks in eighth-grade to her first ever birthday party. That takes guts, even though she never truly expects them to attend. She can’t believe her luck when every one of them — including Hayden, the boy she has a crush on — accepts her invitation.

Of course, she finds out later that they have an ulterior motive: they need her. I’m not quite clear on the reason why. It’s either never fully explained or I didn’t grasp it, but they need her to astral project to Planet Popular. Planet Popular is like utopia to Roxie. What she doesn’t know is that it’s dangerous, too. Shadow people live there — doppelgangers — and if you’re not careful, the doppelganger will return, leaving you trapped in-between

Hayden warns Roxie never to go to Planet Popular alone, which means that’s exactly what she does. Roxie gets a glimpse into her future, where she’s a popular high school senior with Hayden for a boyfriend. It’s everything she could ever want, at least until it’s time to return to her real life.

At only 200 pages, 13 on Halloween is…different. It’s not bad, just different. I haven’t read anything quite like it before, but I’m probably going to read the sequel, Shadow Slayer. I like Roxie and I want to spend more time reading about her and her friends.

13 on Halloween is free for the Kindle on Amazon and the Nook at Barnes & Noble and includes the first two chapters of Shadow Slayer (which I did not include in this review).

3 1/2 stars