I was very excited when this proof arrived for me one morning. I’d read about it in the Macmillan catalogue as the start in a new series to thrill fans of Michael Grant & Robert Muchamore. That meant ACTION & SUSPENSE. And, Mr. Hoyle is a pseudonym being used by an unidentified UK Headmaster, which just adds to the air of mystery & intrigue surrounding this book…
We open on the birth of a boy, to a young, single mother, at the stroke of midnight 1999 & the dawn of the new millennium. The birth is a strange one, as the hospital staff are attacked by a sword-wielding maniac, intent on murdering the new born child. He fails, but in the confusion he manages to escape into the night, & remain at large. Thirteen years later, & the child is now Adam, a high school student whose mother put him up for adoption when he was still just a baby. Full of anger, he lives his days knowing nothing of his birth mother – But he loves his adopted parents, & he has two great friends in Leo & Megan, so while life isn’t perfect, he gets by. However, his Fourteenth birthday looms, & for the man with the sword – Coron, & his demented religious sect, this cannot come to pass. Adam Grant MUST die, before he becomes a man, for he is the only thing standing between Coron & the future of the world he has foreseen. So begins a breakneck cat & mouse chase across London & a heart pounding struggle for survival. Adam & his friends have no idea who they can trust, & the crazed plans of Coron are unpredictable & dangerous…
I absolutely flew through Thirteen in just a handful of days. The plot is none stop, with every single chapter ending in a cliff-hanger that tips the reader onwards into the next in a mad scramble to keep up. Adam is a classic, stoic hero, but with a quick mind that lets him outthink his enemies in increasingly tighter scrapes. Megan is a loyal friend & something much more interesting & developed than most “romantic” interests, she’s brave, & some of her sequences are amazingly tense & gripping. However, as I often find, the stand out character in Thirteen is its antagonist – Coron the mad cult leader. His dark visions are truly unsettling, & his steady desperate descent into complete mental chaos is morbidly fascinating, reflecting any good, driven, delusional villain – although he is tempered with sympathy, as readers we see his mental illness externally, & that makes him both more human, & more sinister.
Thirteen is an excellent action packed adventure for reluctant teen readers who need their plot to be constantly on the move, & throughout all that it still maintains a slow, deepening sense of mystery & dread that hangs over the story like a dark, ominous cloud. The book’s finale opens up more questions than you could fit in your head, & completely flips the events of the story on their head, creating a thirst for a sequel in those last few passages. The constant shifting pattern of the story, with its pitfalls & betrayals, makes for gripping reading, & I can see readers second guessing the actions of every character, trying to work out who’s a member of Coron’s cult, & who knows more than they’re letting on. It all adds up to a thrill ride of a novel that is sure to kick start a lot of reading careers for youngsters.
Thanks for Reading!
P.S. Look out for Thirteen from the 13th of February 2014