Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25
By: Richard Paul Evans
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
Published: August 9, 2011; Mercury Ink
Source: Received ARC from publisher for review
Summary (from Goodreads): My name is Michael Vey, and the story I’m about to tell you is strange. Very strange. It’s my story.
To everyone at Meridian High School, Michael Vey is an ordinary fourteen-year-old. In fact, the only thing that seems to set him apart is the fact that he has Tourette’s syndrome. But Michael is anything but ordinary. Michael has special powers. Electric powers.
Michael thinks he’s unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor also has special powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, Ostin, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up this way, but their investigation brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the electric children – and through them the world. Michael will have to rely on his wits, powers, and friends if he’s to survive.
My Review: I think that your reaction to the summary of this book will be the best judge of whether or not you are going to like this novel. As I was first reading it, phrases like “It’s my story,” “but Michael is anything but ordinary,” and “Michael will have to rely on his wits, powers and friends if he’s to survive,” stuck out at me. Not in a good way. In fact the whole summary screamed, “I’m an ordinary book.” And it was.
Richard Paul Evans has written many best-selling novels for adults, and this is his first foray into the world of young adult fiction. And it seems to me that he’s got a lot to learn. One of the major problems with this novel is that the characters do not act their age. Case in point (from my uncorrected proof):
My birthday was the one time of the year that my mother said nothing when I filled my plate with more whipped cream than crepe.
She made herself a simple crepe with butter and powdered sugar then sat down next to me. “I’m sorry I have to work today. Are you sure you’re okay with celebrating after school on Monday?”
“I don’t care what day we celebrate,” I said with my mouth full.
“And we’ll have cake and ice cream tonight. Do you and Ostin still want to go to the new aquarium on Monday?”
“Yeah. And can we go to PizzaMax for dinner?”
“Whatever you want. It’s your day.” She smiled at me and her eyes got all sparkly. “I can’t believe you’re fifteen. Another yaer and you’ll be driving. You’ve grown into such a fine young man. I am so proud of you.”
I’ve never been a fifteen year-old boy, but I’ve observed them plenty. I think it’s more likely that a 12 year-old boy would ask to go to the new aquarium with his friend and then to PizzaMax with his mother. A fifteen year-old boy would be more likely to tell his mom to shove it and go see an action movie with his friends, or not do anything at all. Birthdays just aren’t a big deal to older teenage boys.
Not that I don’t appreciate Michael’s relationship with his mother. I think, however, that in this case, it was way too over the top.
However, there is the addition of Tourette’s syndrome to Michael’s character. I think that a lot of teens that struggle with this disorder will really connect to this story because of that element. Like Percy Jackson’s dyslexia, it’s a way to make something that can be really awkward and embarrassing for a teen into something that can be cool and explainable. And for that, I applaud Evans.
However, as a generally whole, the book was far too cliche and unremarkable for me. From Michael’s overweight, nerdy friend Ostin, to the beautiful, popular, but all-inclusive cheerleader Taylor, this book is a cookie-cutter model of a adult writer goes young adult. I suspect, however, that in spite of its lack-luster performance for me, this novel will still be another New York Times bestseller for Evans