Friday, 20 June 2014


Tom Hoyle
London, Macmillan, 2013

When stuck for what to read, I asked a colleague what she might choose at random from the shelves of my library. Being a lover of action stories, she selected Thirteen, the first novel from debut author Tom Hoyle.

The People are a mass of individuals who believe that a boy born at midnight at the dawn of the millennium will prevent the rise to power of The Master, leader of their cult. Thirteen boys were born at this hour, and The People have killed all but one: Adam Grant still walks free, completely oblivious to his fate. He is adopted, with no idea when he was actually born or what his birth is prophesied to cause. 

My colleague and I were both intrigued by the pretext for this novel. It reminded me of the pretense of Michael Grant's Gone series, which I have not yet read but have heard highly praised. I like the idea of a group of teenagers fighting for their lives, with little support or structure from the adult world - for young readers, this is a world they dream of living! 

And yet I couldn't engage with Hoyle's novel. I felt the pace lagged and the characterisation was incomplete, leaving me longing for more detail and drama. I skipped ahead, and still nothing seemed to be developing: though the plot jumped back and forth between The People's attempts to destroy the Thirteen and Adam's quest to stay alive, the action was stale. 

So despite thinking the pretext for this novel sounded incredible, I was disappointed that it didn't seem to go anywhere. And I hate being unable to finish a novel.

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