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The Last Thirteen : Book 1

by James Phelan

Paperback / softback Age range: + years old Publication Date: 01/09/2013

3/5 Rating 3 Reviews
Kidnapped from school and finding out his parents aren't who he thinks they are, Sam is suddenly running from danger at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same again. With his life and identity shattered, Sam's salvation is tied to an ancient prophecy. He is in the final battle to save the world, up against an enemy plotting to destroy us all. He alone can find the last 13. 13 books. 13 nightmares. 1 destiny.
Thrillers (Children's / Teenage)
Age range:
+ years old
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Scholastic Australia
Country of origin:
Dimensions (mm):
James Phelan

James Phelan is the bestselling and award-winning author of twenty-nine novels and one work of non-fiction. From his teens he wanted to be a novelist but first tried his hand at a real job, studying and working in architecture before turning to English literature, spending five years at a newspaper and obtaining an MA and PhD in literature.

For Hachette Australia, James has written five titles in the Lachlan Fox thriller series, and the Alone trilogy of young adult post-apocalyptic novels. The ex-CIA character of Jed Walker was first introduced in The Spy, which was followed by The Hunted, Kill Switch, Dark Heart and The Agency.

James has also written a fourteen-book adventure series for Scholastic, titled The Last Thirteen. He has been a full-time novelist since the age of twenty-five, and spends his time writing thrilling stories and travelling the world to talk about them.

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  • The first of the last 13

    by on

    An amazing, exciting, adventurous book with danger at every turn. This first in the The Last Thirteen series introduces Sam and his friends and begins to explore the prophecy to save the world. Switching from reality to dreams and back again it's fast paced and easy to read.

    The only downside - the last sentence will have you on the edge of your seat, eager to continue the story.

    Since this is so easy to read, you will get through it quickly - might be an idea to get the full set, now they have all been released, so you don't get left hanging.


    by on

    The Last Thirteen is a 13 book serial released across the span of approximately 14 months. This first book in the series follows a teenage boy named Sam, who discovers his nightmares are actually a gift that allows him glimpses into a terrifying future reality. One day, hes sitting in class, and before you know it, a secret organisation breaks down the wall of his classroom and kidnaps him.

    Ive always been a vivid dreamer (Ive once dreamed an entire episode of Modern Family), and have always wondered whether my dreams are trying to tell me something. When I read the premise of this book, it immediately hooked me. It was intriguing to see how Sams dreams/nightmares could play out in real life.

    The book is quite fast paced, going from scene to scene without seemingly stopping. Unfortunately, this fast pace has affected much of the character development in the book.

    Sam is your typical hero, who takes jujitsu classes prior to being kidnapped and then suddenly rescued. He is taken to a secret Academy for people like himself, who has dreams/nightmares of future events. The only difference is that Sam is special because hes dreamed about Scolaris, a bad guy, and because of this, hes prophesised to be one of the long awaited Last Thirteens that is meant to defeat him. During Sams kidnapping, he meets two others who he immediately befriends. Theyre told that their whole lives have been a scam, with their parents being fake and Agents from an organisation that want to exploit their gifts. Sam, as well as his friends, while promised to be special, are pretty stereotypical and gives off a Harry-Ron-Hermione vibe.

    In terms of plot, Im still a little confused with the whole premise overall. Sam and his friends are taken to The Academy, where theyre meant to learn to control their dreams, but before they even attend a class, they rush off to solve the issue of Sams latest nightmare. These Academy people who are apparently trained in combat, decide to bring three kids along with them, two of which know nothing about fighting. Or strategy. Or survival really. But of course, Sam is special so he has to go along, as hes the one that can manipulate his dream as its played out in reality.

    I think overall, the idea behind the story is interesting, but the book is let down by its execution. The serial release of the books every month may be the core issue here, as the author may be rushing to meet the deadlines. The story definitely needs some tighter editing, but I did enjoy the action scenes. I would classify this book more as middle grade than young adult, and I think younger boys would definitely enjoy this fast read.

  • A good story, but be prepared to read them all!

    by on

    Reading the blurb for this book, what appealed to me at first was not the cover, nor the low 'introductory (hook-me-in) price', but the apparent similarities between this story and that of Harry Potter.

    This story's protagonist is Sam, a 16 year old who has nightmares. One particular day, he is forcibly removed from his school by an armed group who are saying that they are acting in the interests of national security. From there, Sam is rescued by the good guys who take him to a special educational facility (Hogwarts?) where he can learn how to harness and control his dreams (magic?) in order to save the world from Solaris (Voldemort?). We also learn that Sam is one of the Last 13. He meets two friends who help him in his quest, Alex (Ron?) and Eva (Hermoine?) - he even learns that his parents aren't the people he has been living with all his life.

    Although I liken the story to that of Harry Potter, the way the book is written and the manner in which events play out differ greatly. I liked the way it began, the plot moved quickly and I found that I was halfway through in my first sitting. Although this made the book engaging and easy to read, I am not sure whether it has set the story up enough to make you care about the characters. At the conclusion of this first book we have already 'lost' one of the characters from the Academy and I found myself dismissing him as unimportant. Yet his position in the school and in Lora's affections must mean that he was of greater significance. Many of the characters have only been halfheartedly introduced and there hasn't been enough action for them to participate in so we can see their personalities and influence on the story.

    I really enjoyed some of the rich language that Phelan employs and the imagery he creates. It is a good example for young readers and writers to demonstrate that you can write a 16 year old boy without reverting to pages of internet slang, 'OMG', or 2D Hollywood teen stereotypes, 'like totally'!

    Overall I enjoyed the story, despite feeling that it was rushed. I would not have complained had there been a few more scenes building up to the action-packed conclusion - giving us a chance to get to know the characters a little better. The reason that I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars is entirely due to the ending. To me, the book has no conclusion and is more like a serial TV program than a complete, stand-alone story. I understand the purpose - to get readers hooked so that they will buy the next installment. Yet I finished this book feeling very dissatisfied and a little cross. In my opinion, no story should end with '...'. I have loved many series' of books. Each book should have its own story, its own conclusion. 13 stops abruptly in the middle of the final scene/action. For this reason, I am reluctant to continue on with the next novel 12 - simply in defiance of being manipulated so blatantly.