Three of the scariest guys in school jump Michael as he is hoping to get home without them noticing, and this isn’t the first time they’ve gone after him. This scene early in the novel reminded me of recent political news in the Presidential race. In the book, Michael is threatened, humiliated, terrified. The bullying scenes in The Prisoner of Cell 25 are so real that I couldn’t help but go over the news story again, seeing it in the same light as I saw the fictional scene. It’s not possible to humiliate and terrify someone, to make him cry and beg you to stop—and then be unable to remember it years later.
But unlike real life, where a rich or well-connected bully often gets away with his crimes, Michael Vey has powers unknown to his tormentors. When his emotions run high, he can throw an electrical charge that can literally blow someone away. And he does. His tormentors find themselves in the bushes, screaming in pain.
Michael’s mom has been helping him to hide this power all his life. He already has problems enough fitting in—he has Tourette’s Syndrome, and if it weren’t for the science nerd Ostin, he wouldn’t have any friends. That changes quickly as one of the most popular girls in the school, Taylor, sees what happens when Michael uses his powers against the bullies. And she lets him in on a secret: she has weird powers, too. She can ‘reboot’ people’s minds, stopping their trains of thought and making them forget what they were doing.
As Ostin works with Michael and Taylor to discover how they got their powers, the group realizes that each of them is in trouble. The scientists at Elgen are searching out all the victims of a medical experiment gone wrong back in the hospital where Taylor and Michael were born, a day apart.
Although this novel is obviously science fiction, the character of Dr. Hatch is a perfectly portrayed psychopath—he thinks of people as objects and can be very charming as he lies and manipulates others in an effort to get his way. Another character, Michelle, is a well-characterized sadist. Seeing the better characters fight to do right in the face of torture and deprivation makes for a fast-paced thriller.
Despite the plot line, this book doesn’t have graphic or gratuitous violence. Much is left to the imagination or describes the mental state of the sufferer. In fact, my main criticism of the novel is that the shopping scene in the middle went on too long. I knew why it was there, but I didn’t need to be smacked over the head with it. I wanted to get back to the adventure.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for adventure and action. I’m always looking for books that will appeal to guys who don’t usually read and need a place to start. If that’s you, start here.