Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Michael Vey, the Prisoner of Cell 25 and Michael Vey Rise of the Elgan, Richard Paul Evans

I read both of these SO fast that I'm just going to review them together.

Wow. SO INCREDIBLY fast paced. It's a real page turner. It's nice, because some of the chapters are pretty short, so you can read it in whatever bits and pieces you can steal throughout the day (which is how I sometimes have to read being a mom and all).

After the first one, I was tempted to have my 9 year old read them....but after the 2nd, I have decided to wait. You see, the evil guy, Dr. Hatch, is REALLY evil. Remember Unbroken, the story of Louis Zamperini who was a Japanese POW and all the horrible, degrading, sadistic things that happened to him? Yeah. What Dr. Hatch does gives me flashbacks of THAT. He is a mastermind at brainwashing and a mastermind of torture, both psychological and physical. He is the epitome of a mad scientist.

Of course, Michael Vey and his friends always come out on top against all odds-totally reminding me of Percy Jackson. But hopefully the eventual ban of evil in the name of good will come about at the end...I have no idea how many books this series will have. I know there's 4, but I don't know it well enough to know if #4 is the final one. I also just started book 3 and have 4 "In transit" from my hold request at the library :-)

Anyhow, Michael has electric powers. He's always thought he's the only one, but turns out, he's not. And when he meets and joins up with some of them who are likeminded and not brainwashed by Hatch along with a couple of unexpected bullies-turned best allies-and his super smart best friend Ostin (ironically named after the city in TX, Austen) who seems to know EVERYTHING-except how to be socially normal around girls :-) All of the best qualities of everyone together creates kind of a club, the Electroclan, and when the bad guys kidnap Michael's mom-that's when the Electroclan starts to show its power.

I'm a big fan of these books now, although like I said, the level of dark evil that Dr. Hatch is, is pretty gruesome, and made me a little squeamish at times. I think at times I had less trouble stomaching The Hunger Games. I'm really, really looking forward to the eventual downfall of Dr. Hatch and I hope it's big! These books also open up a big potential discussion about brainwashing and what it is and how it happens. It might help kids be aware of what people do to try to manipulate them to do certain things, not to extent of what Dr. Hatch does, but there are similarities. For instance, Dr. Hatch gives the electric kids on his side anything they want, but in return asks them to do things for him "displays of loyalty" he calls them. This book also explores the complex that permeated Japanese culture for a LONG time, and also in Nazi Germany, that there are races of people who are superior to others. Dr. Hatch convinces the electric kids (or Glows) that they are eagles among chickens, that they are worth infinitely more than regular people. When Taylor (a girl Michael knew from high school) was asked to give a display of loyalty that could have had a negative impact on a person, she refused. Another Glow couldn't understand her hesitation saying "They're only people, Taylor!" Which could lead to a great conversation of how so many people could have been convinced that killing 6 million Jews was somehow OK. Obviously, not EVERYONE was brainwashed, but some were probably simply too afraid of what would happen to THEM if they showed loyalties anywhere else. It could also be the start of a discussion of how the Japanese tried various times to overrule the Koreans because of their belief of superiority (which also fueled their interest in WWII). So as you can see, it's not just a sci-fi action adventure novel, but also a starting point for very serious, non-fiction discussions.

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