Richard Paul Evans is well-known for his uplifting style. His first book, The Christmas Box was a powerful bestseller and became a perhaps-lesser-known film on the Hallmark Channel. Evans’ books are generally geared toward spiritual audiences and often do well in Christian circles. However, they tend to be stories about relationships rather than actions. His recent release, Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25, maintains the positive air but incorporates an adventurism not seen in his other offerings.
As the title suggests, Michael Vey is the main character and narrates most of the novel. He is fifteen, going on (and during the book gone to) sixteen, scrawny compared to his high school classmates, and has been diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. Michael is different from every other kid, but he can never show off his talent. That would be too dangerous, letting too many people see what he can do. His mother knows some powerful people are searching for him and she has tried everything to keep him away from their manicured claws. But if the Veys stayed hidden forever, there wouldn’t be much adventure, right?
Evans’ book is decent. Worth the read. It’s nice to see a veteran author really break with his own genre and write something out of his own style, especially just for fun. Many authors are constrained to writing within a niche. As someone who abhors reading within a niche, I’m glad to see that the transition from one category to another can be so easy (or at least made to look easy, as real professionalism is defined). There are a few interesting points about this book’s publisher and the plot, but I’ll leave that alone for now.
Reading negative reviews can point out a lot more about a book than scrolling on the opposite. Often this is because the reviewer notes a legitimate dispute, though it isn’t generally a problem for most readers (unless the reviews tend toward a negative response in the mean). But I’ve always found positive reviews a tad quirky. What can be said about a book to praise it, while not giving away the plot twists? Setting forth dozens of the usual phrases; “dazzling” or “an epic adventure,” seems less than helpful. For that reason, my reviews tend to be teasers more than actual reviews. Review is what we do after we’ve both read a book and want to talk about it. All told, the negative reviews on amazon.com point out a few legitimate faults with this book, though I hardly think those points so thoroughly destroy the quality of the read as to properly garner a one star rating.
I would say this book earns three out of five, and if the ease of read is taken into account it may even fill in that fourth star. Evans is so experienced and disciplined an author that the words can literally fall from the page to your eyes for the first two thirds of the book. The only reason it doesn’t merit a solid four stars in my eyes is that the last fifty pages tend to feel rushed. I don’t want to accuse a professional author of wrapping up a book because he was bored with it, but it might have flowed smoother if the final sequence was drawn out a smidgeonette more.
Of course, if Evans was bored with his own story, that would beg the question as to why he wrote a sequel to Prisoner of Cell 25. Evans obviously wasn’t tired and it’s plain he wanted the plot to move faster and faster the more you read, leading the last fifty pages to scream through a host of elaborate sequences, though none of them are quite as inventive as a reader may have hoped. So, three out of five. Solid story, decent characters (if a tad normal, but then sometimes we can associate with normal). Nice girl, kid who finds himself… It’s been done before but it feels good to do it again. Evans can make it feel fresh. I’ll give the sequel a chance too.