Last night I watched the 2012 Version on Netflix. The premise of THIRTEEN is very similar to Red Dawn, a North American city is invaded and taken over by a foreign enemy. As I watched it I noted the differences and similarities of the story to THIRTEEN.

Comparing RED DAWN (2012) & THIRTEEN

The Characters

Both Red Dawn and THIRTEEN have a group of kids who come together. In Red Dawn they come together to fight the enemy directly. In THIRTEEN they come together to help a community survive.

The Enemy

bookmark3 frontIn both Red Dawn and THIRTEEN the invaders are the North Koreans. In Red Dawn they had help from Russia. In THIRTEEN the country backing North Korea has not yet been identified for the reader. I know who it is and why but you have to wait for book 3. I know so unfair.

The Geography 

In Red Dawn (2012) North Korea and Russia take control of the country’s seaboard states.

In THIRTEEN the invasion is very hyper focused. North Korea takes over the Vancouver region along the US / Canadian border and the coastal mountains. Why go further north? There is nothing strategic there, mostly mountains, wilderness, and a few small towns.The point of invading Canada is NOT to hit the US directly for geopolitical reasons, think Cuban Missile crisis. More in Book 3. Yeah I know get writing Shannon. After watching Red Dawn, I’m on it.

The Parents

In Red Dawn the adults are either killed, compliant, or like lost sheep and do nothing while the kids run around shooting and blowing things up. The kids seem to be able to come and go as they please, even driving in and out of town without any issue, while the adults stay home. Red Dawn’s added conflicts are individual vrs team and brother vrs brother.

In THIRTEEN the adults have a role. They interact with the kids and together they figure out what is going on, how to survive, and in subsequent books to to fight back. THIRTEEN has the added conflict of son vrs. mother, of teen vrs authority and coming to terms with the breakdown of the family unit through divorce.

The How

In Red Dawn the power is cut with a pulse emitter of some kind that fries all the circuits and communications. The North Koreans then use the element of surprise, and airplane, to mount on offensive and take over the town of Spokane quickly. In the chaos the kids escape to a spoiler_alert_originalcabin in the woods.

In THIRTEEN, soldiers come swarming into the downtown area out of commercial cargo ships. Other units take over strategic locations, like the border crossings, at the same time. More details about how the soldiers were able to hit strategic areas and have so many weapons so fast, is coming in Book 2.

 The Reactions

In Red Dawn the assumption is that if a US city was attacked people would flee if possible, protect their families and then fight back with guns. Well, a group of kids would while the parents stood around like brain dead zombies and the other teens were in a concentration camp.

In THIRTEEN the assumption is that if a Canadian city was attacked, the people would protect their families by fleeing the danger, after they all took selfies with the soldiers first – OK the selfies part isn’t in the book. Maybe it should be. Then they would figure out how to survive with no power. In book 2 they form a resistance, similar to the French resistance in WW 2 to fight back. It’s not all cowboy like Red Dawn though.


That is probably enough spoilers given away. THIRTEEN isn’t as flashy as RED DAWN, but Red Dawn’s a movie with special effects, while I have only words to move a character through a unlikely situation as believably as possible. Considering an invasion of Canada’s West Coast is so far fetched it isn’t easy trying to figure out how people would react if it actually happened.

Why I set THIRTEEN in Canada and not in the USA. 

YA novel Canada

What do you think you would do if soldiers invaded your hometown? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Photo on 2014-04-17 at 12.25 PMShannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?

For more information check out her website.