“Thirteen” (The Last Thirteen) by James Phelan (2013)
“Thirteen” is the first book in a series where books, counting down from 13 to 1, have been (and will be) released monthly. The series has been released up to “Five” so far, so I’m a bit late to the party.
The premise is that there are ‘true dreamers’ who can dream the future, and return to their dreams and alter the course of that future. Sam, our protagonist, is a true dreamer, and perhaps one of the ‘final 13’ who are destined to save the world. However, at the start of the book he thinks he’s just a normal kid, and when he is kidnapped from school he discovers nothing is as it seems…
The book is fast-paced and engaging. A quick read, at 207 pages with several visuals, such as emails, hand-written notes and newspaper articles, the book will appeal to readers who like an adrenalin rush mixed with some mystery. It reminded me a great deal of The Conspiracy 365 series that I read in 2012. That series, too, was released monthly, and has spawned a whole franchise and is now in its third series.
I don’t think I’ll bother reading 12, 11, 10, 9, or any of the rest… but this is a book I will recommend to reluctant readers in the future.
“Rock War” by Robert Muchamore (2013)
Regular readers of this blog will be ‘well familiar’ with my obsession for all things Muchamore. “Rock War” is book one in a new series that explores the world of teen rock and roll bands and reality television in London. While Muchamore’s previous spy books have been ideal for the 11-13 range, this book is more suited to a slightly older reader. I will be conducting some market research with year 9 students to see whether or not it is worth adding to the book room.
I really enjoyed the character development and idea of this book, although, as a first book to a new series, it did spend a lot of time establishing a lot of characters, which got a little bit confusing at times. Nevertheless, it is an extremely appealing book. Muchamore has a knack for writing kids that seem very real to me. And families that strike a chord. There are four different teenage rock bands to learn about in this book. The characters and how they come together make for interesting mini-stories and the mayhem around the middle of the book is real ‘can’t put it down’ stuff. And probably the best bit is that the hook at the end makes book two extremely appealing.
Recommended for 14+, I think.