Saturday 1 February 2014

The Last Thirteen Book 1: 13

The Last Thirteen Book 1: 13 by James Phelan (Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $7.50
ISBN 978-1-74283-184-8
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

The Last Thirteen is a new series for young teenaged readers. Fast-paced and gripping, the reader is instantly inserted into the action of a ‘true’ dream Small details are revealed throughout the story, increasing the intrigue and tension until the final cliff-hanger moment at the end of the book.

13 is the first book of this series. Sam’s nightmares have always been bad but his latest dream seems even more real than most. Then, he is whisked away in a hair-raising helicopter ride with two other teens and taken to an Academy in Switzerland for ‘Dreamers’ where he is to be taught how to control his dreams. Here he discovers the race between good and evil has begun and he is one of the last thirteen. And Sam has a pivotal role to play in this race.

This is a great series for younger teens. It is a classic good versus evil (Academy versus Enterprise) story with a shadowy evil figure Solaris, a world-wide hunt for clues, and a search for the teenagers with special abilities, destined to be heroes in a battle to save the world.

Sam is a likeable character, as are the secondary characters and the dilemma the author creates with the two competing agencies and their reasons for being fighting the ‘good’ fight  is interesting. Even without the constant threat of death – the battling agencies tend to use dart guns not bullets – the tension is constantly heightened. The puzzle is often made more complex, not easier, and even though they are following events they have already dreamed about, you never know where the action may take a turn and change paths. 13 is wonderfully dramatic, exciting and addictive.

Instalments of these short, fast-reading books are scheduled to come out each month until the conclusion in December 2014. This will be a popular thriller series for teens. As with many series now, there is an on-line companion page with VIP Access. There are 13 prizes to win with each book release, e-newsletters, access code breakers and many more features. Check it out at

James Phelan is an Australian author who has written adult thrillers as well as the Lachlan Fox series and the Alone trilogy for older teenagers.

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