I found myself writing two completely different reviews of this book. I still can’t really decide exactly where I stand on this one, so I decided to post both. I have decided on one thing however. It has possibly the worst title ever.
Michael Vey is a puny kid who is harassed by bullies, moons over the unattainable popular cheerleader, and hangs out with the nerdiest boy in school. What makes him different is his big secret. He has a superpower. Unable to control his emotions during a particularly brutal bully attack, he unleashes his electrical superpower in full view of the aforementioned cheerleader and all hell breaks loose. He finds out he is not the only kid hiding a secret and that there is someone out there that wants to harness his power.
The Harsher Review:
I recently began hearing about this book all over the place. It is described in some cases as the next Harry Potter and often lauded for its originality. Well, no and no. It is a quick read full of action and fairly sympathetic characters, but I have no idea where the Potter comparisons came from aside from the fact that this is the first in a 7 book series. As for originality, it smacked a bit of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride blended with a little Pittacus Lore’s I Am Number Four. I’m sure it will get those reluctant readers reading, especially boys, but it’s not as revolutionary as the hype would suggest. I guess we can continue to look for unjustifiably inflated praise as more and more new books try to grasp the Hungry Potter in the Twilight coattails. And no, I’m not comparing Harry Potter and Hunger Games to Twilight. It is just the mixed bag of success that has emerged.
The Thoughtful Review:
I read a lot of YA fiction. I’ve mostly gotten beyond the embarrassment except when I find myself in the book store “Teen” section with a girl or two I could have feasibly given birth to. I have pretty much shirked my defensive stance on the topic because there are so many adults (and Cannonballers, who would have thought?) reading YA and the genre today is churning out some awesome books. The danger is that I sometimes forget the target audience despite it being clearly printed on the back cover. I tend to praise only those books that use rich language and darker subject matter, and chalk up the rest to sacrificing quality by underestimating its intended demographic. I’m not sure I have been very fair in that regard. Michael Vey is one of those books. Not too showy with the vocabulary. Rife with dated similes and sometimes awkward dialogue. Down with the action, but pretty derivative in terms of plot. All in all, it isn’t a bad book and probably a great book for YA boys. A lot of YA is directed pretty heavily at the girls a la the paranormal romance angle but Evan’s book is not steeped in some kind of love triangle with a preternatural hottie hiding around every corner. Dude has a super power and bad guys to fight.