________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 29. . . .March 28, 2014


12. (The Last Thirteen, Bk. 2).

James Phelan.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2014.
185 pp., trade pbk. & EBK, $7.99. (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-2483-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-3309-8 (EBK).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Andrew Laudicina.

**½ /4



“That dream was intense,” she said. “It doesn’t have to end that way, you know.”

“Yeah,”he said sipping a hot drink. “Don’t have much choice though, do I?”

“What do you mean?”

“I have to do this,” he said. It was my dream that started this race and now it looks like I’m responsible for finding the next of the last 13, maybe more.”

“Well, at least you have a role.”

Sam looked at her. “You’re part of this too.”

“I doubt it.” Eva leaned her head against the back of the chair, staring vacantly at the fire.

“You are,” Sam said. “You had that dream with me in it. Just trust that you will have more.”

“We’ll see,” Eva replied, and hesitated. “Sam, you have a choice—you always have a choice, you know that right?”


Book two of “The Last Thirteen” begins precisely where the series opener ended. Despite the prospect of certain demise at the hands of the evil Solaris, Sam is able to escape, aided by an unlikely ally. Stranded on the streets of New York City, Sam bumps into an old classmate, Xavier, who reveals the details of a recent dream. Together, they travel to Egypt (on a private jet provided by Xavier’s dad, the highly respected and rich psychologist Dr. Dark) and later to Academy headquarters where Sam dreams the identity of the next of the last thirteen.

     What follows is a romp of action, adventure, and intrigue which carries Sam first to Rome in search of Gabriella, and then to the Vatican City Library where an ancient book believed to be the personal journal of Leonardo da Vinci is recovered. A map accompanying the journal reaffirms a dream Gabriella had the previous night, convincing both Sam and Gabriella to journey to the Roman Pantheon. Awaiting them, however, is none other than Solaris who is determined to stop Sam and the prophecy once and for all.

     While written in a similar style and tone, 12 differs slightly from its predecessor as it incorporates a revolving narrative centred on the points-of-view of the story’s main protagonists, Sam, Eva, and Alex. These different voices all read the same, however, imparting no real identity to the characters portrayed despite the peculiar scenarios each of them find themselves facing. Themes build upon those developed in the first novel—notions of destiny and one’s ability to affect change and choose their own path are tossed about, as are ideas of morality and loyalty to one’s friends and family – but they are once again only flirted with and treated in passing.

     A ballooning cast of characters, many of which are seemingly only used for the convenience of plot, makes for a sometimes confusing read; this remains a stubborn reality throughout much of the book, despite the addition of a bulleted synopsis (reminding readers of the events of book one) and the inclusion of character reminders worked within the text. In what appears will be standard fare for the series, the book’s finale is again punctuated by a cliffhanger, presumably to hook young readers into continuing along to the next book in the queue.


Andrew Laudicina, a MLIS graduate from the University of Western Ontario in London, currently resides in Windsor, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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