Thirteen, by Tom Hoyle

Thirteen, by Tom Hoyle (March 2015, Holiday House, YA)

Once there were 13 boys, all born in London just past midnight on the New Year's Eve of 1999/2000.  Now, 13 years later, all but one of them has been killed.   Adam, the last survivor, has lived his life not knowing he's being hunted; through lucky chance, he was raised by adoptive parents who use his adoption day for a birthday.  But now the killer has found him, and death is headed his way...

Coron, leader of a cult called "the People," has been told by the Master who lives inside his utterly insane head that one of the Millennial boys will stand in the way of the arrival of the New God who Coron must help bring into power....and clearly, since 12 of them have been dispatched by Coron's cultists (trained to be killers) Adam must be the threat the Master needs disposed of.  It has to happen before he turns 14 years old.   On Adam's side is a brave bright girl named Megan, super observant and determined, and an older boy who escaped from Coron's cult.   But with members of the cult in the police force, using the power of the law to hunt for him, assassins behind every corner, and nowhere truly safe to hide, it's not at all clear if Adam will be able to make it to his next birthday without being horribly sacrificed.....

I did have one area of hesitation with regard to the book-- Coron is literally insane, and it's hard to believe that he is sufficiently rational to keep control of all his minions, though he has done of fine job of brainwashing and terrifying them.  The revelation that the Master is a figment of Coron's mind fairly early in the book lessens the heft of the evil point of it all (I like my villains to have more nuance to their motivations) and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with mental illness being the main motivator of the bad guy in terms of stigmatization.

That being said, this is a fine choice for teens who like action-packed thrillers of violence, grounded by relatable characters (for readers on the younger end of YA--the little touch of romance, for instance, is of the "first kiss" variety) struggling to survive.   It's not actually speculative fiction, but is far enough removed from quotidian reality to appeal to fans of dystopian sci fi.  The writing is tight and to the point, and there's tons of Menace and Danger.   Though possibly a tad slow to really start, it is a page turner once things get going.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. I think those minuses are enough to keep me away.

  2. Yeah, I super don't like for mental illness to be the motive for Evil. If there weren't so much stigma about mental illness in society, I probably wouldn't mind so much, but as it stands -- not my fave.


Free Blog Counter

Button styles