Thirteen by James Phelan

September 18, 2013 Reviews 0 ★★★

Thirteen by James PhelanThirteen (The Last Thirteen #1) by James Phelan
Published: 26 August 2013 by Scholastic
Format: Paperback, 207 pages
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: Purchased
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3 Stars

13 books. 13 nightmares. 1 destiny.

I click my fingers and everybody dies.

Sam wakes from his nightmare to discover the terrifying reality. It will come true.

Kidnapped from school and finding out his parents aren't who he thinks they are, Sam is suddenly running from danger at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same again.

With his life and identity shattered, Sam's salvation is tied to an ancient prophecy. He is in the final battle to save the world, up against an enemy plotting to destroy us all.

He alone can find the last thirteen.

Thirteen is the first in what is going to be a thirteen-book series by James Phelan, that follows a group of teens who hold the future of the world in their hands. They’re called Dreamers – because they can prophesy the end of the world through their dreams. Thirteen is about Sam, who wakes up one morning after having a terrifying dream of the world ending, and ends up being kidnapped from school.

I liked Sam quite a bit – he’s always thinking things through and trying to take care of everyone around him. He’s not a natural leader, I don’t think but the kids he ends up meeting look to him for advice. Of the other characters, I found Alex to be a bit stereotypical (a hot-head who has something to hide), but liked Eva well enough. My favourite character so far is Lora, probably because she’s almost the same age as me and thus provides a voice of reason in the midst of all the juvenile characters. She has secrets as well, however, and I’ll be looking forward to uncovering what they are.

At just over 200 pages, and sporting quite a large font, Thirteen is a quick and easy read (for me anyway). The complexity of the plot kept me engaged, however, because there are new organizations to learn about (like The Enterprise, the Academy, and S), and everyone seems to have a hidden motive. One of the things I liked is that the trio of Dreamers that we meet never take it for granted that one side is ‘good’ while the other is ‘evil’ – they are rightly skeptical and hesitant until more information is revealed about what is going on.

Refreshingly, the friendships between the trio aren’t instantaneous: they are forced to hang around one another and tend to gravitate towards each other because of familiarity, but in the end they all make up their own minds about what they want. I’d be looking forward to seeing them actually develop bonds of trust and friendship.

I was disappointed, however, that after being dramatically kidnapped and almost killed, the kids were thrust into the Academy – which is a school. I just feel it’s unlikely that anyone, even if they are kids, who hold can see the end of the world would necessarily need to be in a boarding school environment. This development was a letdown for me, but I understand that it’s aimed at kids who are still in highschool, so it’s relevant to put the main characters into a school for supernaturally gifted children.

A final note on the presentation: I really enjoyed the images that are peppered throughout the book because they added to the atmosphere while reading. However, I’m still incredibly confused why a teacher would have aerodynamics on the board (with differentials!) and then ask Sam to explain what F = ma means. It would seem to me that students being taught aerodynamic equations should already be familiar with the basics of Newtonian motion.

I liked Thirteen quite a bit, and will probably stick with the series to see what happens, especially if the future instalments are as short and action packed as this one. I think there’s a lot of potential here for younger (high school aged?) readers.

If you’re interested in reading the series, there’s an official website and a competition being run with prizes for each book in the series. Check it out here!

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