Thirteen by Tom Hoyle
“Born at midnight in London, on the stroke of the new millennium, Adam is the target of a cult that believes boys born on this date must die before the end of their thirteenth year. Twelve boys have been killed so far. Coron, the crazy cult leader, will stop at nothing to bring in his new kingdom. And now he is planning a bombing spectacular across London to celebrate the sacrifice of his final victim: Adam.”
I’m coming clean. This was a DNF at 46%
The first Did Not Finish for this blog! I have personal hang-ups about reading the whole of a book, regardless, but for this one it was less ‘Didn’t’ and more ‘Couldn’t’.
Why? Quite simply, I was bored. The characters, plot, narrative style, was doing nothing for me.
Let’s look a little deeper into it:
Intro – The opening chapter is as baffling as it is bold. It throws you right into the action.. But there were so many characters who had an opinion or a perspective that I felt like a passive onlooker. I mean, the image is striking, of that chap holding a sword above his head (by the blade? Ouch! Is that possible?) with the blood trickling.. and then the girl with the baby.. and the hospital staff.. and yeah. So much exposition too! My brain was overloaded. And there was ultimately that missing element: emotion. I had none.
Clumsy references – I talked at length about this with a girl from my class. I noticed she was reading Thirteen when we were on the Writer’s Retreat and asked her what she thought. Her thoughts were similar to mine in that there are some details that, as a resident Brit, make little sense. Things to do with location, for example, which when you thought about it narrowed the characters’ position down to like a 300 mile radius. They could be anywhere! Either be more specific, or keep it vague.
Plot – It’s a strange dynamic at work because the action is like BAM BAM BAM.. however, when you took a moment to let it sink in, it’s like nothing has really happened in the way of character development, or relationships, or motives.. I felt like these stock figures were on an epic journey that held no meaning for any of them.. except maybe the crazy cult guy. Cults are bad.
Target audience? – I’m confused as to what the actual target readership is for this book. On the one hand, the narrative is written in such a way that I felt like I was too old for it (and this is the girl that reads teen and YA like it’s her calling) but on the other- It’s quite violent, or potentially so in its action and insinuations, so I wouldn’t think it would be appropriate for too young a reader.
Thirteen has a great concept, and carries the story along at a good pace. But I just couldn’t read it. It was painfully too ‘telly’ and less ‘showy’ and I don’t need to be told everything.
It was ok, even though I’m marking it as a DNF, and I can see how and why others may love the socks off it.
Who is it for? Well, I’m not sure. I felt like it would suit a male teen audience better than a female. When I asked a friend who they thought it might appeal to, she said fans of Darren Shan perhaps.
I’m giving it a 2 out of 5. It just wasn’t my bag at all.
(4/5 for the cover art though! That’s some stand out stuff!)