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|August 28, 2012
Read this YA Book If…Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 — A Good Conspiracy and Imaginative Superpowers
by Erin Cowles
Michael Vey has special powers, and he knows it. He's been trying to keep a low profile in Idaho, but he can't keep his electric powers hidden forever.
When his crush, the popular cheerleader Taylor, discovers his powers and reveals that she has her own brand of electrical superpowers, they join Michael's brainy and non-electric friend Ostin in a search for why they have these abilities. Their investigation sets a chain of events in motion that leads to Michael's mother and Taylor being kidnapped by the mysterious Elgen organization.
The friends discover that there are other “electric” teenagers out there, and Elgen is using diabolical means to try to control them and the world.
The best part of this book is the way Richard Paul Evans structured the trio of main characters. In most adventure books I read, there is the brave and skilled leader, the brainy romantic interest, and the comic relief. Evans combines the brains and the comic relief in the form of geeky Ostin, which gives him room to do something entirely different with the female part of the trio.
Taylor's integrity is her big virtue, and it is a refreshingly human integrity. Sometimes her powers give her the opportunity to cheat in certain situations, and she sometimes gives in to temptation. However, she wants to do right. She feels awful when she makes mistakes and works to do better the next time.
She's empathetic and sticks up for the unpopular kids. She thinks about the emotional costs to others of her actions. In a world of characters with extraordinary powers and a villain that uses these skills for personal gain, Taylor's conscience stands in stark contrast.
Sadly, Evans used Taylor primarily as a plot device to teach us about life in the Elgen Academy, but I'm interested to see how her skills fit into the adventure now that Evans has gotten the world-building out of the way.
The language is squeaky clean, to the point of awkwardness at times. There's no sex and the school parties are the kind of dry parties you wish actually existed at your high school. However, the torture elements and villains' sadistic love of inflicting pain would make me pause before handing it to an elementary school child.
The dialogue and character development are uneven, and it takes too long for the story to build its momentum, but I think Evans is moving in the right direction with this series. The sequel will have come out by the time this review posts, so you'll only have to wait as long as your library's hold list takes to see what happens next.
Read this book if …
Target Audience: Ages 12 and up.
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