Flashback Friday Review!
I originally read The Prisoner of Cell 25 back in September 2012, but I never did review it here on the blog. In fact, I didn't write anything on Goodreads either! I gave it four of five stars, and put it on my to-do list to eventually follow up with the rest of the series. Well, that day has finally (two years later) arrived! I just finished the second book, and am most of the way through the third. I think they keep getting better and better, as the reader gets to know the characters.
Michael Vey isn't your typical teenage boy. Yes, he has school and homework and worries about girls... but he's also electric. And he has Tourette's. And he is trying to keep both hidden, so that he can fit in. That can be hard to do, though, when you're constantly ticking and occasionally glowing. Good thing he has an awesome best friend, Ostin, who's always got his back. Then things really start to look up when Michael discovers that a cheerleader, Taylor, is also electric. Before we know it, the trio sets off on an adventure to discover how they got electric superpowers.
I'd put the Michael Vey books at the lower end of YA. There's pretty much no romance in this first book, but there is TONS of action and adventure. The characters' dialogue is skewed a little younger, too. Even though the characters are 14/15, they read a little more like 12/13. That's ok! I would totally hand these books to fans of Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus series or John Flanagan's Ranger Apprentice series. I'll be honest: the sometimes-snarky comments from Ostin would often make me laugh out loud. A book doesn't need cursing or sexy times to be appealing to teens.
One unfortunate thing about the Michael Vey books: the characters aren't very deep. At least, not in this first volume. They all very much stay within their trope. Michael is the awkward kid with Tourette's who very begrudgingly leads a ragtag group of other teens on an adventure. He often second-guesses himself and then finds his inner strength. Ostin is the chubby kid who's always on the lookout for the next meal or snack. He's a bookworm who's always spouting off too much background information for the situation. Taylor is the cheerleader. She literally cheers for the group at one point. She gets super excited to find out that Michael is also electric and immediately proposes that they form a club. She worries a bit about her appearance at times, but never lacks self-confidence in anything else.
The good news is that the originality of the plot and the immense amount of action packed into this story totally overcomes that shortcoming. From the first page, the reader is swept along on an adventure that never once slows down. I found myself tempted to read late into the night in order to find out how it turns out for the teens! The Michael Vey books are classic good vs. evil, and you can't help but cheer for Michael and his Electroclan as they struggle to take down the bad guys. A fantastic thing about most YA lit is that it shows teens working together to overcome seemingly impossible odds and accomplish great things. I love that positive influence, whether the characters are fighting dragons or demons or totalitarian dictatorships... or, in this case, evil scientists.
*I checked out my copy of The Prisoner of Cell 25 from my local library.