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Michael Vey: the Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Michael and his mother have to keep moving to different places around the country because he accidentally reveals his electrical powers, and his mother doesn’t want anyone to find out. They settle in Idaho where Michael is picked on for having Tourette’s syndrome. Jack, the class bully keep stuffing him in lockers and the principal is not taking Michael’s side. Michael gets sick of being treated poorly and zaps Jack the next time he gets jumped. His mother wants to pick up and move again. But Taylor, the cute cheerleader, witnessed everything and wants to talk to him about it. It turns out she has electrical powers too, but in a different way. When Michael, Taylor, and Michael’s best friend Ostin research their powers, an evil group that has been hunting down the electric children is alerted.

This is a science fiction book recommended for grades 7 and up. It takes place partly in Idaho and then in California, but setting isn’t a big part of the book except for measuring the distance between Michael and his pursuers. While Michael Vey is not the most quality writing and is a little stereotypical (they do a cheerleader hold to reach over a door frame, etc.), the pace is quick, suspenseful and full of action. The plot can be considered similar to the Alex Rider series but with less interiority and an older audience. Even though it’s a cheesy book where the loser gets the cheerleader and the fat, smart kid saves the day on numerous occasions, it has a good heart and the conclusion is satisfying.

What I found interesting was the electrical terms presented. Each electric child could use electricity in a different way and could be prevented from using their electricity in different ways. For example, Taylor uses it to “reboot” people or mess with their brain waves. As I’m not a scientist, I don’t really know how that works, but I think it could be fun to investigate it more. Hatch, our antagonist, developed a copper helmet that blocked Taylor’s electric waves.

The psychology of motivation, torture, peer pressure, and negative reinforcement were also interesting. Hatch should go into sales because he does a great job of manipulating people into his electric cult of super- villains. As he is talking, you can take the different scenes he appears in and break down psychologically how he coerced someone to perform for him. It’s a little evil and a little awesome. He could write a torturous version of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Overall, if you’re a fan of fast-paced action with a bestseller quality of writing, read this book. It’s not high literature, but it’s a lot of fun. The torture scenes are a little heavy and pretty numerous, so if you have squeamish children, I’d warn them about what they’ll be encountering.