© 2011, Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink, New York
Richard Paul Evans burst on the publishing scene in 1995 when an alert executive at Simon & Schuster noticed his self-published Christmas story The Christmas Box. I’ve read many of his successful stories including the trilogy that came out of the original Christmas story, others of his romantic fiction (some better than others) and several of his children’s book which are dedicated to the Christmas Box House that benefits children. Now he is turning his pen to the new arena that is luring many successful authors (like John Grisham)—Young Adult fiction.
I like YA fiction for a variety of reasons: It reads quickly (authors go out of their way to use readable language); and speaking of language, most YA stories are free of vulgarity and innuendo (which forces the author to use a vocabulary filled with clean language); most of these works have a little romantic tension even though the graphic details are left out (and I really enjoy stories that are free of material that cues my internal censor).
The Prisoner of Cell25 introduces an anticipated collection of works about the Electorclan—a group of children who through some quirk of fate were born with abilities that can be traced back to electricity. Some call this small group of children “electric children”. Several of the children have been tracked down and abducted by the evil, maniacal genius Dr. Hatch whose invention caused the accident in the first place. Hatch is backed by a consortium of people who are trying to duplicate the events that created the electric children in order to conquer the world.
Michael Vey and his friend Taylor Ridley are the last two of the electric children to be found. Hatch gets Taylor back to his compound and tries to turn her into one of his servants as he has done with many of the other children including Taylor’s twin sister Tara (who Taylor has never heard of). His efforts are in vain when he asks the girl to hurt strangers as a proof of her loyalty.
There is much to be enjoyed in this first Michael Vey story. Most readers will look forward to the second story in the series which promises to follow the Electroclan as they help Michael search for his mother and answers to questions about his past.
Even so, there are a few distractions that may crop up. There is an uncanny resemblance to other Science Fiction/Fantasy mainstays that already have the hearts of SciFi fans. Specifically, Evans seems to be drawing heavily on story lines from the X-men and Heroes franchises. Even so, there are enough new items to overlook the resemblance.
That said, I’m looking forward to the next installment. 4 out of 5 reading glasses.
—Benjamin Potter, October 2, 2011