Eleven by James Phelan

February 25, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★½

Eleven by James PhelanEleven (The Last Thirteen #3) by James Phelan
Published: February 1st 2014 by Scholastic
Format: Paperback, 192 pages
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
Goodreads BooktopiaBookworld
2.5 Stars

This is it. My nightmares have finally come true.

Sam's deepest fears become real as his enemies grow more numerous and ever-more powerful.

Struggling to stay one step ahead, Sam must locate 11 more Dreamers and solve the next piece of the puzzle.

Can Sam and his allies unlock the secrets of an ancient journal to reveal their final destiny? Sam is far from home, with the fate of the entire world in his hands.

He must find the last 13. The race is on.

We continue our adventures with Sam and the rest of the Dreamers in Eleven, the third book in The Last Thirteen series. Sam is a Dreamer – he has true dreams and is prophesied to save the world from unimaginable horror with twelve other true dreamers, who are all 15-16 year old kids. The last book ended with a cliffhanger where Sam is surrounded by German Guardians who have turned traitor.

The German Guardians are dispatched quickly and easily, with Sam performing some physics-defying stunts on his scooter (seriously, the rules of physics are optional for this guy!), and we’re soon off adventuring to exotic locations with Sam and his friend Xavier, who, as it turns out, is one of the Last Thirteen. Xavier’s had a dream which takes the duo to Berlin, where they easily fool adults into thinking that they hold PhDs, with Xavier posing as his own father, and steal a vital clue into the mysteries of the Last Thirteen.

I liked that the world has finally expanded, and a lot of the mysteries surrounding the Professor, the Enterprise and Xavier’s father have been cleared up. It’s also pretty cool to learn the two prevailing theories about what makes a Dreamer: nature vs. nurture. The importance of Da Vinci is interesting: I’m finding myself drawn in even as I sigh in exasperation at the Da Vinci Code for middle-graders vibe.

Plot elements are falling out rather conveniently in this story, which is perhaps understandable given that it’s aimed at younger readers, but they still concern me. A little complexity wouldn’t be unwelcome. The prevalence of dart guns also gives me pause (all the shooting that none of that messy blood and dying) because in a real race to save the world, people will be hurt. I guess you can’t have fifteen year-olds running around killing people, but these are kids who probably already play Call of Duty and Halo. Also, real-world implications of the actions Sam and his friends take are never considered – where are the international condemnation and political power-plays?

I still find Alex’s role in the story interesting, although it’s not shaping up to go in the direction I’d predicted in the last book. I’m looking forward to see what impact he has in future books, and watching his relationship with his mother develop. Of all the kids in this series, only he and Xavier have positive relationships with their parents. Xavier has always struck me as important to the plot, and the development that he is Dreamer came as no surprise. His life has been more difficult than it seems at first glance, and I’d like to see that developed so that he doesn’t just come across as an insanely rich and well-connected teenager with a tragic past.

On the other hand, Eva has quickly been reduced to an annoying character. She’s mooning over Sam and getting irrationally angry at Gabriella (who is beautiful and famous and charismatic) just because Gabriella has a crush on Sam too. Sam, who really hasn’t looked at either of them with interest and is certainly not thinking about them while on his mission. I dislike that the boys get to have all the adventures and the girls sit around worrying about them and unnecessarily getting into trouble by making silly decisions.

Overall, the world James Phelan has created is shaping up well, and although I can think there is room for improvement, I’m enjoying them too. This fast paced series about the power of dreams, ancient artefacts and a race against the clock will entertain younger readers. Pick up these books for your children, nieces and nephews, and other young relatives!

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