The last thirteen by James Phelan
Scholastic Australia, 2013. ISBN 9781742831848.
The last thirteen begins with Sam having a bad dream which establishes the series premise, for yes, this is the first instalment in a series of at least 13 books. Sam and his dream introduce the major players and set the scene for the non-stop thrills and spills which follow.
Phelan is masterful in providing just enough character description to allow the reader to fill in the blanks and flesh out his/her own characters in the guise of: the struggling yet valiant hero; the talented sidekicks; the doomed, but maybe not, heroine; the enigmatic Professor; and the school, not to mention the organisations that are vying to gain control of Sam and the yet, as unmet, remaining 12, who comprise The Last Thirteen.
I had a ball reading this. The action never stopped and Phelan kept adding details like stealth technology, ancient legends, goodies and baddies who mainly shoot each other with darts so most people aren't too damaged, ancient treasures, bullet proof suits that change colour and style at the wearer's discretion; ancient prophesies; and of course, an evil and mysterious villain, so the reader never has a chance to stop or critically analyse the plot or style or themes. Who cares? It's fun, it's fast, it's clever and it never pretends to be more than what it is.
Go on! Suspend cynicism and join Sam in saving the world. Spoiler alert: be prepared for a cliff-hanger ending which basically guarantees the purchase of the next book in the series.