CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 31. . . .April 11, 2014
11. (The Last Thirteen, Bk. 3).
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2014.
183 pp., trade pbk. & EBK, $7.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-2484-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-3310-4 (EBK).
Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.
Review by Andrew Laudicina.
“Sam, did Xavier say anything else before I came in here?’ Dr. Dark asked as Xavier tried to calm himself.
“No,” Sam replied. He—we—had a nightmare.”
Xavier looked at Sam, both of them understanding in that moment what had happened.
“We?” Dr. Dark looked from one boy to the other.
“Sam and I,” Xavier said finally. “We were both there—we shared it.”
“Sam is that right?” Dr. Dark asked, amazement clearly showing on his face.
“I... I think so.” Sam stammered. “If Xavier had the same dream about the tiger... and Solaris. And there were planes too, I think.”
Xavier nodded slowly. “That was Solaris, wasn’t it? It was so—and then he... “ Xavier was still wide-eyed and trembling.
“Sam, if what you’re saying is true, that you shared Xavier’s dream... well, I’ve never heard of a Dreamer having such capabilities without extensive training, which I am sure you haven’t received.”
After out-maneuvering a team of rogue Guardian agents, Sam reunites with Xavier and travels to Berlin in search of the next clue in fulfilling the prophecy of the last thirteen. However, with Guardian agents in hot pursuit, they must make a hasty retreat to the private estate of an old acquaintance. While there, they receive breaking news from the Academy: Leonardo da Vinci’s journal—recovered previously by Sam and Gabriella from the Vatican Library in 12, book two, has been deciphered. According to diagrams found within, in order to fulfill the prophecy and defeat Solaris, the last thirteen must build a machine from unknown parts scattered about all over the world. With this new knowledge, both Sam and Xavier set off for the missing pieces they desperately desire. Their actions are, however, easily found out, attracting the attention of both Guardian and Enterprise agents and, of course, Solaris—the consequence of which, if they are to believe their dreams, threatens to endanger the life of someone they hold dear.
This basic plot is bolstered by secondary story arcs involving the two remaining main protagonists, Alex and Eva. Alex, in the custody of the Enterprise, grows to accept his captors, even accompanying Enterprise agents on a mission to retrieve Sam; Eva, meanwhile, consumed by pent-up resentment she possesses over her position and place within the prophecy, investigates a mysterious burning light in the mountains outside Academy headquarters. While these threads seemingly contribute little to the main plot, they are significant in that they build continuity within the larger narrative, linking together and strengthening themes already introduced.
Driven by exciting action sequences, and a compelling new narrative — centred on the completion of the da Vinci machine — fans of the previous books, who perhaps thought the series was lacking a certain unknown quality, will likely find a renewed interest and fascination with the story moving forward. For this to happen, however, readers must be willing to overlook a growing use of easy outs which all too conveniently explain away the truth. 11 continues a pattern which far too often charges readers to suspend disbelief at the expense of even the most basic of common sense. For example, in one instance, Xavier, despite being only 15-years-old, is able to gain access to a restricted store room on the insistence that he is his father and that Sam is a fellow PhD colleague. Offences of this variety offer very little to the overall story expect perhaps a speedy lead into yet another car chase, fortuitous rescue or blind luck scenario.
Andrew Laudicina, a MLIS graduate from the University of Western Ontario in London, currently resides in Windsor, ON.
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