By Richard Paul Evans
“Is this like a series? When’s the next one coming out? Can we get it tomorrow?”
High praise for any book, but coming from my twelve year-old son? We’re talkin’ statospheric. I mean, I had to arm-wrestle the kid for Richard Paul Evans’s new release, Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25. Good thing I’m a fast reader. I zoomed through all three hundred and twenty-six pages in two days.
I’m not kidding. Vey is a barn burner. Page-turner. Whatever.
Fourteen year-old Michael Vey is smack in the middle of life’s “armpit”: freshman year at Meriden High School. He seems like an incredibly “average” kid. The only thing that may set him apart is furious eye-blinking when he’s nervous, attributable to Tourette’s syndrome. Michael’s one – and only – friend is portly, resourceful brainiac Ostin (he was born in Texas. His mom was a poor speller. Figure it out.).
Michael would like nothing better than to be left alone and just try to survive high school, but a trio of local thugs won’t let him. They’re among the first to encounter Michael’s secret first-hand when they try “pantsing” him after school as cheerleader and drop-dead gorgeous Taylor walks by.
Michael later finds out that he and Taylor aren’t as different as he thought. They both share special electrical powers. Michael, Ostin and Taylor form the “Electroclan.” Everything’s going swimmingly until Ostin detects some coincides between Michael and Taylor that are way too similar for mere coincidence – like the fact that they were born in the same hospital, in the same state, a day apart, and that nearly all other babies born in the same hospital within that time frame died. The trio sets out to find out why. In the process, they stumble upon the “Who?” – and wish they hadn’t. Enter the darkly sunglassed, mysterious Dr. Hatch.
A megalomaniac par excellence, the ‘ethically challenged’ Hatch (that’s an understatement) has been looking for Taylor and Michael for nearly fifteen years. When Michael’s mom is kidnapped, as is Taylor, it’s up to Michael and Ostin to launch a daring rescue against seemingly overwhelming odds. They must rely on wit, tenacity and each other to succeed. But who can they trust to help? Who else is after them, and what do they want? Will the boys arrive before it’s too late? And what happened to Michael’s dad?
Evans has ranked high on my Favorite Authors short list for years, ever since The Christmas Box. As a YA novel, Vey represents a significant departure from Evans’s usual themes and treatments. It’s a different “cup of tea.” Very different. And Evans pulls it off beautifully! The story is a skillful combination of action, suspense, mystery, romance, science and humor into an imaginative fiction with characters that are real and genuine. We want to meet them again. The plot is engaging, brisk and clever. A keeper!
And the next title in the Vey series, The Rise of Elgen? Not to worry. My son and have it on hold at the library. In fact, we’re first in line.