Author: Tom Doyle
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books
Publication date: February 13, 2014
In Thirteen by Tom Hoyle, we experience the dangers and extremism of cultism and fanatics. I wasn’t wholly sure this would be a cult-based book heading into it; however, this soon came pretty clear.
I’m not sure whether to call Adam the MC due to the POV used, though it definitely seemed to revolve around him the most. And despite the POV used, the author did a good job of providing a decent connection with Adam and making me like him and root for him. He also did a good job of creating a ‘hero’ out of this supposedly ‘normal’ teenage boy, without it seeming contrite or forced. And his best friend/almost girlfriend/girl next door is also a great addition to this book.
That said, Thirteen definitely had a healthy balance of pros versus cons.
In its pros column is Adam, as already stated. In fact, it would be wrong of me to only place his character in there. Because whilst I didn’t necessarily ‘like’ all of the characters in the story, it would be amiss of me not to give credit to their distinct personalities and quirks and vibrancy, which made each and every player unique and identifiable as themselves, ensuring the reader constantly knew which character we were focused on at any given time.
And then, in its con column is definitely the POV used—which is what made having to keep track of who everyone was such an important job. I couldn’t help but wonder how this one would have fared if the POVs had been restricted a little. Not necessarily the ‘amount’ of POVs displayed, but maybe a use of third person limited, and scene/POV switches, might have brought a new seasoning to this dish. Because the constant flicking, from one character’s head to another, definitely took the most getting used to in this book. To the point that the narration almost read as erratic, like the ranting recap of a madman so excited by his tale that he had to get it out of his head before implosion.
However, this particular style of narration also then leads to another pro: the pacing. The fact that we didn’t ever have to wait to see all of the opposing sides of the story meant that the story flew by—in, like, rapid speed. And it was this that kept me going as I was getting used to the writing style—because once it had me by the short hairs, it certainly had no intention of letting go.
Okay, so let’s get to the actual story itself. I’ve never studied cults, nor do I know an awful lot about them beyond my own preconceived notions. Which makes Thirteen a definite eye opener, as well as extreme to the point of absurdity. However, I can’t discredit it. Despite hating every time we got a mass glimpse of the antagonist’s mind and motivations; despite hating ‘him’, even; despite all of that, this book still managed to hold a level of believability, even down to the expansive reach of the cult, and the pies they had their many fingers in. I think Thirteen did a great job of highlighting the horrors, the dangers, and especially the manipulation that comes with a following of such powerful devotion and dedication. It’s a terrifying thought, for sure.
Intrigued? Then check it out. This high-speed chase to an indefinite finish line will keep you entertained whilst worrying the c*** out of you. Oh, and bonus: I think there might even be more to come in future book.