________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 2. . . .September 12, 2014


10. (The Last Thirteen, Bk. 4).

James Phelan.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2014.
185 pp., pbk. & html, $7.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-2485-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-3311-1 (html).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Andrew Laudicina.

**1/2 /4


9. (The Last Thirteen, Bk. 5).

James Phelan.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2014.
185 pp., pbk. & html, $7.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-3350-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-3351-7 (html).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Andrew Laudicina.

**½ /4



Eva stumbled toward Tobias. All she could hear were the sounds of people trying to make their way clear of the rubble, calling out to each other, crying, screaming. Students emerged from the smoke, some walking, others limping or being carried.

…Lora pulled Eva into the shared embrace. “I’m so sorry.”

Eva choked back tears. They were all in this together—they were family now, brought together even more through their shared grief.

“What do we do next?” Eva asked, sniffling away more tears and gathering resolve.

“We look after each other,” Lora sighed. “And then we must carry on.”

“What about everyone who died?” Eva said.

“There will be time for revenge, Eva,” Tobias said darkly. (From 10.).

“I’ve been wondering, why does Sam have the dreams he does?”

“You mean, why do his dreams lead him to the other dreamers?”

Eva nodded.

Tobias added sugar to his black coffee. He took a sip, then leaned back, scratching his chin. “The truth is I don’t think anyone really does. His ability is quite astonishing—we’ve not seen this kind of thing in our lifetime. But I have some ideas as to why.”

“Such as?”

“Well, he was the last of the Enterprise’s Dreamer program, and that may mean he’s the last of the last 13, if you like. These 13 dreams may be happening in some kind of specific order that only Sam can determine. Or, perhaps as the very last of the Enterprise’s engineered Dreamers, Sam could have been given that little bit of something extra.”


“Maybe the genetics team took his enhanced DNA dreaming genes to another level,” Tobias said, as one final gesture.”

“One final test, you mean.”

Tobias nodded and said, “Or, it could all defy explanation completely and just be who Sam is—his destiny is to be the only one who can bring all the 13 together.” (From 9.)


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.

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

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