________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 9 . . . . October 31, 2014


7. (The Last Thirteen, Bk. 7).

James Phelan.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2014.
185 pp., trade pbk. & EBK, $7.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978 1 4431 3354-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1- 4431-3355-5 (EBK).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Andrew Laudicina.

**½ /4


6. (The Last Thirteen, Bk. 6).

James Phelan.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2014.
185 pp., trade pbk. & EBK, $7.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978 1 4431 3356-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1- 4431-3357-9 (EBK).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Andrew Laudicina.

**½ /4



“Shh!” Sam said, catching Cody by the arm to keep him still. “Listen!”

They remained still for a few minutes, listening.

“What am I listening for?” Cody whispered, finally breaking the silence.

“I heard voices.”

“Maybe they’re in your head, because I don’t hear– ”

“Look out!” Sam pulled Cody into the shadows and they flicked off their headlamps.

In front of them, the darkness was slowly being illuminated by powerful spotlights.

Then, clearly cutting through the eerie silence, the voices came again.

“Sam . . .“

“Shh!” Sam said, peering out as two headlamps came into view, getting closer to where he and Cody crouched. Sam couldn’t quite make out what they were saying.



Cody pushed past Sam and stepped into the light.

“Cody! What are you doing?” he hissed in disbelief. Cody started to walk toward the sound of voices. (From

“Siberia . . .” he said, remembering his dream of the cabin in the snow, the forest, the wolves.

“That’s a place you never want to see,” Arianna added.

“I bet,” Sam said, understanding her tone. “But who are you, Arianna, really? I mean, all the other Dreamers I’ve met—to some extent I’ve had to convince each of them of their abilities, but you already know who you are, right?”

“I did. I do,” Arianna sighed. “I’ve known for a long time that I am a Dreamer.” Arianna said, putting her backpack on and looking out the front doors again. “I have spent my life rescuing Dreamers like you from the Hypnos. There’s a battle raging. I hope you are ready for your part in it.”

“I am. I mean, as soon as I feel back to normal. We have a mission too, you know.”

“Oh, I know,” Arianna said, pulling the door open and stepping outside. Sam right behind her. “But for now, welcome to Moscow, Sam.” (From



When one adversary dies a new and decidedly more powerful foe emerges to hamper Sam’s chances in securing control of the Dreamscape from the evil Solaris, in 7 and 6, the seventh and eighth volumes of James Phelan’s “The Last Thirteen” series. From the aftermath of the previous installment’s cliffhanger, Sam emerges (although, not before being captured again by hostile forces and having his dreams harvested for vital information) to begin his search for the next Dreamer. His travels take him to the Grand Canyon and subsequently to Cody, a young recreational tour guide who eagerly alerts Sam to the location of next gear belonging to the da Vinci machine. Traversing miles of rocky terrain, they enter a network of caves—the site foretold by Cody—only to discover there is no gear to be found and they are not alone.

     In 6, following a harrowing confrontation with Solaris which concludes with the detonation of a low-grade nuclear device, Sam finds himself in Moscow, transported there via an escape pod. After a bizarre dream, he awakes, dazed and confused, inside a medical laboratory. Before he can make sense of his surroundings, he is pulled from his bed and escorted to safety by an expertly trained young woman (Arianna) who he is quick to identify as the next of the last thirteen. With Arianna by his side, Sam is eager to retrieve the next piece to the da Vinci machine. But there is one problem: Arianna has yet to dream of the location of the gear, and worst still, she has been unable to accurately remember her dreams ever since her imprisonment in the same facility from which Sam was just rescued.

     Secondary story arcs featuring Eva and Alex are once again incorporated within this main story. Now more than ever, however, these threads come across as underwhelming, if not almost entirely unnecessary to the principal plot. That’s a shame considering the varying points-of-view these characters offer and their ability to reveal insights and elicit emotions Sam is often unable or unwilling to convey given the heavy lifting he typically undertakes—jet-setting halfway across the globe, hunkered down in shootouts, and planning his next escape from a growing list of individuals who wish him ill leaves very little time for anything else.

     The series’ overly defined plot structure, which has had a stranglehold on story pacing since book one, has somewhat relented and relaxed from its former rigidity. As a result of this, a good measure of suspense has crept its way back into Phelan’s writing. Several twists, specifically Sam’s betrayal in the caves (in 7), land with great satisfaction and importance to the story’s moving forward. Readers would be wise to hope for more of the same as the series moves towards its close, now only five books away.


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

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