CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 2. . . .September 12, 2014
The race continues with 10 and 9, books four and five of James Phelan’s “The Last Thirteen” series. After a quick resolution to the previous installment’s cliffhanger ending, Sam is saved from Solaris by Alex but loses possession of one of the gears belonging to the da Vinci machine. Sam is off to Paris to attend a meeting of the Dream Council and rendezvous with Zara, the next of the last thirteen. Elsewhere, calamity strikes the Academy when rogue agents loyal to Solaris organize a missile bombardment of headquarters, leaving Sam alone to fend for himself against a growing number of hostile forces.
In 9, after a brief stint in London (the new temporary headquarters for the Academy), the action moves to Brazil where Sam, along with the newly identified dreamer, Rapha, journeys deep into the Amazon rainforest to the long-fabled lost city of the Chachapoyas in search of yet another piece to the da Vinci machine. Back in Chicago, Eva and Lora (of the Academy) attend a meeting called by Mac, a member of the Dream Council, with the hope of clearing the air and forming a united front against Solaris; differences in opinion, however, confirm their deepest fears, placing, not only the Academy, but also Sam and his quest to discover the last thirteen in jeopardy.
The series’ quick narrative (still shared between the characters of Sam, Alex, and Eva) and the gluttony of action sequences continue their dominance of the story. A deepening back story centred on the early history of the Dreamer Project and modern dream engineering technology is interesting but far too brief, seemingly holding no importance to the immediate plot. Likewise, a nature vs. nurture theory is posited to explain Sam’s power and the abilities of his fellow dreamers; however, such a discussion barely advances beyond a previous treatment of this topic in 11.
Tranquilizer guns, all but abandoned as the weapon of choice of Sam’s pursuers, have been replaced by larger, more destructive forms of weaponry, including missiles (deployed in the attack on Academy Headquarters) and hidden explosive devices (used in the bombing of the Enterprise and planted on the laptop of the Academy’s Director). The use of deadly force at this level marks a turning point of sorts for the series, not simply because it signifies an escalation of violence, but because it signifies an escalation of violence which is both indiscriminate and executed on a mass scale. Perhaps worrisome still is the manner in which a particular character’s death, (a victim of one of the above mentioned attacks) was handled. While remorse is shown, no real lessons are learned, and when the question of what to do next is posed, revenge is put forth as an answer. With that said, readers who have followed along with the series from the beginning will likely find no fault with 10 and 9 and will be eager to see where in the world Sam’s dreams will take him next.
Andrew Laudicina, a MLIS graduate from the University of Western Ontario in London, currently resides in Windsor, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.