Nine by James Phelan

May 29, 2014 Reviews 1 ★★★½

Nine by James PhelanNine (The Last Thirteen #5) by James Phelan
Published: April 2014 by Scholastic
Format: Paperback, 185 pages
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
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3.5 Stars

13 books. 13 nightmares. 1 destiny.

Not this, anything but this.

In the aftermath of their devastating tragedy, the Academy turns towards an unlikely ally. But Sam's trust in everyone around him continues to be tested to the limits.

Sam journeys to South America, his dream leading him to a long-lost ancient city. Hidden deep with the Amazon rainforest, he is forced to navigate deadly obstacles in pursuit of another Gear.

Can Sam work out who the next Dreamer is in time, or will his enemies succeed once more?

He must find the last 13. They must fight on.

Nine is an exciting adventure that takes Sam and his friends to South America, where they face some of their biggest challenges yet.

While Sam is off ‘in the field’ searching for a new Dreamer in Brazil, Alex and Eva are also working hard to help the Dreamer cause. There’s a lot of creativity in what they each do for the team – while Sam is all quick-thinking and action, Alex is more about planning and anticipating problems, while Eva has proven herself to be versatile and able to adapt to a variety of situations. I think the books are maturing alongside Sam, who learnt a lot in the past few weeks.

I’m still sensing an undertone of inequality with Sam: the newest dreamer that he meets is a boy, and Sam doesn’t coddle or caution Rapha the way he usually does the girls. Although it’s great to see Eva and Lora playing such important roles in the story, it annoys me that Sam is always quick to ask the female dreamers whether their ideas and adventures are good ideas, even though he’s always the one in the most danger and is quite the risk-taker himself. There’s no question of the capability of the girls in this series but they are always being treated differently. None of the girls have ever gone on a trip with Sam but he’s travelled with all the male dreamers at least once. There’s absolutely no reason, that I can see, that Eva couldn’t have accompanied him when he sets out to find Dreamers.

I liked is that the ending of Nine was not as predictable as it has been in the earlier books, and I can see that the series is breaking away from the pattern of the first few books. This is great because it allows the characters to be put in different situations and keeps the audience from getting too comfortable or thinking their favourite characters will be safe from harm.

As we near the mid-point of the series, I’d like to see the books depart from over-used tropes and really try something new – there was one part that read as though it was taken straight from Inception, which jarred me out of the narrative.

I liked Nine, and I think this adventure series keeps going from strength to strength. As I’ve said before, these books would be perfect for younger readers who are looking for an international adventure and some very cool science (think James Bond meets The Da Vinci Code!)

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