Book Review: Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 – by Richard Paul Evans

Richard Paul Evans is best known for feel-good books like “The Christmas Box” and “Timepiece”, so it’s a bit of a departure for him to move into Young Adult fiction. Not that anyone can blame him. Most of the major blockbuster books have come from the YA area lately. That also means that this book isn’t really meant for me.

The concept is interesting enough: An accident with an experimental MRI-type scanner at a hospital killed a lot of newborns, but seventeen of those babies lived and began to exhibit amazing powers based around electricity. Michael Vey is one of those children. He also has a mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome. Other than that he’s a normal teenager in high school. He has crushes. He gets bullied.

But when the bullies push him too far one day he uses his power to even the score, and is seen by non other than Taylor,  the cheerleader he has a crush on. It turns out she is also one of the seventeen children and has her own unique powers. But before they can help each other come to grips with what is happening to them the evil corporation moves in, kidnapping Taylor and Michael’s mother. Michael, his friend Ostin, and some unlikely allies go to the rescue.

I found it an interesting enough book, but it seemed more like mid-level children’s literature rather than YA. There’s is action and some violence, but nothing compared to Harry Potter. The story, while enough to drive the book, lacks the depth of something like Fablehaven. All the elements are there to place the series firmly in the “teens coming to terms with amazing powers” sub-genre; a powerful evil force to be reckoned with, friends banding together, romance, amazingly daft/unconcerned parents, teen issues, etc. Michael’s powers are continuing to grow, and may end up killing him.

Unfortunately none of this really pulled me into the story for long. The progress of the plot was fairly formulaic, and the ending was never really in doubt. There were logic holes large enough to notice.  And the outlook is not good for Michael’s growing/changing powers not turning into a swiss-army plot device. If every time he gets into a really tight spot he suddenly reveals a new manifestation of his powers it could get old quickly.

Perhaps the biggest plot hole is why these kids don’t just go to the authorities. When you’ve got half a dozen kids with super powers, including one with a copy of all the evil company’s files there is no reason why you couldn’t make the police believe you. This company is evil, and strange things seem to happen around the company’s head. I’m sure the FBI would have noticed by now. Perhaps this will change in the next book, but for now, having the heroes be all alone in the world is hard to believe.

It was a fun story. I enjoyed reading it. But I’m not all that eager to find out how the next book goes. Evans seems to have given his readers too little credit and produced a story with insufficient depth. It’s okay as it is if you’re intending it for pre-teens, but even they could appreciate more depth than they were given. There could have been so much more done with this story.

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