After escaping the Elgen Academy, Michael Vey and his Electroclan return to Idaho to figure out their next step: going to Peru to rescue Michael’s mother who is imprisoned in the Elgen’s Starxource electricity plant. Meanwhile, the evil Dr. Hatch has gone rogue after the Elgen board decides his electric children should be sent back to their normal lives.
In secrecy, Hatch calls thousands of Elgen guards to the plant in Peru in order to brainwash them into becoming his army. His plan is to spread a new form of renewable energy, created by electric rats. Michael quickly deduces, “If the world became dependent on Elgen energy, the Elgen would control the world.” Michael and the rest of the Electroclan aren’t about to let that happen. The confrontation is bound to be shocking.
The second installment of the Michael Vey Series picks up almost immediately after the first. The reader joins Michael and his friends on an action-packed adventure through the Peruvian jungles. This book focuses on loyalty and bravery, as sacrifices and trust are essential in carrying out the rescue plan. In addition, Michael learns that he and his friends are not alone—they have allies that also wish to see the Elgen fall. Nevertheless, the pressure is on Michael and his friends as Hatch continues to hunt them.
Rise of the Elgen is more methodical than The Prisoner of Cell 25 as it focuses on the infiltration plan and multiple escapes from Hatch’s grasp. Because of the risk, sometimes Michael considers that he might die along the way. The threat of death and capture may be difficult for young readers to relate to, although they will admire Michael’s dedication and his loyalty to his friends. Michael thinks, “the only thing worse than dying would be to watch everyone I loved suffer and die too.” Michael’s unfailing selflessness makes the risk worth it – he is willing to die if it means his loved ones and the world can be free from the evil Elgen corporation.
The fast-paced story is thrilling and showcases some of the characters in greater depth, such as Ostin, who gets a few moments to shine with his intellect, and Michael, who struggles with leading the Electroclan into danger. After finishing the story, the reader knows that Michael’s conflicts are far from over. Though he escapes the compound and successfully rescues his mother, Michael is still separated from his friends. Michael fears that the Elgen corporation will keep hunting them until the Electroclan joins their side. Michael’s fight for his friends – and now the world – to live free of the Elgen’s grasp makes this story a must-read. In the face of these odds, Michael is not always a fearless leader, but is often torn between his responsibility to protect his family and his so-called destiny as one of Hatch’s elite electric creations. This conflict makes his character genuine and relatable to anyone who struggles with the pressure of growing up. Though Hatch would say that Michael deserves to rule the world beside him, Michael’s humility and open heart proves that he is just like the rest of us.
- Taylor and Michael are dating. They hold hands and kiss a few times. “‘Are you still going to kiss me?’ she asked. . . I leaned forward and kissed her.”
- When Jack goes on an errand with Abi, a boy suggests they are “probably kissing” and that’s why they are taking so long.
- The ranchers at the compound use a tube—”the Weekend Express”—to escape. They use it to visit their girlfriends. When the Electroclan uses this tube, Ian lies to a guard saying they are “hooking up” with Raúl’s cousins.
- A guard remarks that Michael’s mom is good-looking and that he made her “belly dance for a glass of water.”
- Low level descriptions of violence, such as knocking out guards or shocking them unconscious are frequent.
- Ostin is worried about his parents’ reaction after running away to help Michael. Ostin says, “I am so freaking dead . . . My dad’s going to tear off my arms and beat me to death with them.”
- Upon returning to their apartment building, Michael and Ostin discover that Ostin’s parents have been taken. Jack also finds that the Elgen have burned down his house.
- A mystery contact helps the Electroclan escape as Hatch zeroes in on them. They give the group two Hummers. Jack says his brother drove one in Iraq, but it was “blown up underneath him by an IED.” His brother survived.
- While in a safe house, Hatch has the kids kidnapped and put in vans. A guard tortures Zeus, who is shocked every time he touches water. “I caught a glimpse of what he’s taken from the cabinet. It was a child’s plastic squirt gun… [The guard] pulled the trigger and a stream of water showered on Zeus. I heard the crisp sparking of electricity… He sprayed again. There was a louder snap, and Zeus cried out this time. He was panting heavily and moaning in pain… He began pulling the trigger over and over. Zeus let out a bloodcurdling scream.”
- Jack and Wade learn that the Elgen keep finding them because they have GPS trackers in their arms. To destroy the trackers Michael shocks them. Abigail takes the pain from Wade and Jack, although it hurts her instead, which makes her cry. “Jack’s body heaved and Abigail jumped back with a scream. The spot on Jack’s arm was bright red and there was a blister where my finger had touched him…I put my finger to the spot [on Wade] and immediately pulsed… Abigail cried out as she pulled away, shaking her hand in pain. Tears were rolling down her face.”
- In one chapter, there are three references to suicide: 1. Hatch has been reading a book on mind control. He enjoys studying hypnosis and suicide cults. 2. Hatch talks to the Elgen board. A man says that of the three missing GPs, two are Jack and Wade, and the other committed suicide. 3. The chapter closes with a phone call informing Hatch that Tanner, one of his electric kids, attempted suicide. “Tanner just tried to kill himself.”
- One of the electric children uses electricity to microwave things, including a snake. The boy killed the snake “as it was wrapping its coils around me, I looked it in the eyes and cooked it. Its brain exploded out its ears.”
- Hatch threatens to kill the children by torture if they reveal his secret plans. “The punishment for disclosing a C10 secret is death by torture.”
- While Hatch and the electric children are on an airplane, Tanner tries to bring down the aircraft. Another child, Torstyn, intervenes and starts to cook Tanner with his powers. “‘Shoot him!’ Hatch shouted to the guard. The guard didn’t move. He just stared, as if frozen. ‘Shoot him before he kills us all. Now!’ The guard still hesitated. Suddenly, Tanner started screaming, ‘I’ll stop! I’ll stop!’ Hatch looked over to see Torstyn, his lip curled in anger, his hand extended towards Tanner.” Tanner is promptly knocked out.
- Hatch and the kids arrive at the powerplant in Peru, which is fueled by electric rats. The kids are forced to watch the rats’ feeding time, where they strip the meat off the bone of two live bulls in minutes. “Within seconds, the bull was completely covered by the rodents in a wild feeding frenzy…Within three minutes, the bull was reduced to nothing but a skeleton. Even its internal organs were eaten.”
- The rats are also cannibalistic, eating biscuits made from their dead and ground-up predecessors. “Those tasty little biscuits are called Rabisk. They’re made of ground-up rats: meat, fur, and bonemeal.”
- The plant has a Re-Education center for rogue guards. Hatch says, “This is where we teach these misguided souls the error of their thinking . . . in the right environment the mind can be molded like clay. Men and women walk in here as enemies and come out as devotees, willing to lay down their lives for our cause.”
- There is a gruesome “re-ed” process that Hatch describes. “When the prisoners are brought in for re-education, they go through our boot camp, a carefully orchestrated psychological assault guaranteed to drive them to submission or madness… First, they are shown a rat feeding, then told that they will be fed to the rats the next morning. While they await their fate, they enter phase one: They are locked naked in a three-by-three cell without food or water… During the next seventy-two hours, loud music is piped into their cube, nonstop… After those three days comes phase three. The music stops. They are told that due to the mercy of the Elgen and because we believe that they still might be saved, their life has been temporarily spared. This is when their education begins. We start by playing a looped audio presentation we call The Scold. This recording consists of different voices screaming at them…. [after which,] they are usually reduced to whimpering idiots.”
- Sharon Vey, who is being held in the prison area, is tortured by Tara until she passes out (which we learn via Tara; we do not see it happen).
- Hatch welcomes the new soldiers to the compound and shows them a video of the guard being fed to the rats. “The image on the screen behind Hatch changed, revealing a close-up of the bowl’s chute… When the chute reached its extremity, the door in the wall opened. A man’s black boot appeared, followed by the rest of his body as he was pushed out and the door shut behind him. The guard was fully dressed in Elgen uniform and bound at his legs and wrists… Within seconds the guard was covered with rats. His amplified screaming echoed through the entire hall for less than a minute, leaving the men silent. After just ninety seconds the man’s skeleton was ejected from the chute.” Hatch makes it clear that this is common practice for insubordination.
- After the electric kids make it to Peru, their jungle guide, Jaime, shows them a tangarana tree, which has a symbiotic relationship with ants. Jaime explains, “The ants protect the tree and the tree gives them shelter . . . The natives used to tie their enemies to the tree. The ants would eat them alive.”
- Raúl is a rancher for the Elgen compound and assists the Electroclan in their break-in. He hates the Elgen for stealing his family’s land. He has scars on his back from being whipped by the Elgen guards. “Those scars on his back are from the guards. The Elgen lost some cattle to a jaguar, so the guards whipped [Raúl] as an example to the other ranchers.”
- When a guard remarks that he made Michael’s mother “belly dance for a glass of water,” Michael shocks him. Michael says that he’s “never shocked someone that hard before.” Ostin says, “Michael, stop it! You’ll kill him!”
- The Electroclan finds Tanner imprisoned and free him from a device called a RESAT which uses Nichelle’s ability to cause pain and dampen the kids’ electricity. However, Tanner doesn’t want to be saved because he’s a murderer. Tanner says, “Do you have any idea how many people I’ve killed? Thousands.”
- While escaping, the group runs from the rats that Hatch unleashes on them. To escape, they trigger the sprinkler system, which nearly kills Zeus. Michael describes, “Zeus was completely covered by the rats . . . his skin was severely blistered and blood was streaming down his arms and legs from rat bites.”
- As the group is escaping the compound, Michael hangs back to create a diversion. “I produced a lightning ball in each hand and simultaneously threw them in the faces of the guards closest to me, dropping them both to the ground. Then I lunged at the captain as he reached for his RESAT. I never made it. Two darts hit me in the back, followed by a third, taking my breath away.”
- Michael is tortured by the RESAT device after Hatch captures him. “[Hatch] reached over to the box on my chest and turned a knob. Increased pain shot through my body…” Later on, he does it again: “the RESAT buzzed, and pain racked my body. I gasped, my eyes welling up from the pain.”
- Then, Hatch tells Michael he’s going to feed him to the rats. “This time there will be no one to save you… I’ve seen [the rats] strip a bull to bones in less than two minutes. I can’t imagine the pain, the sheer agony, as a thousand little teeth devour your flesh.”
- Meanwhile, the others attempt to rescue Michael by blowing up the cooling vent to the plant as well as the backup generators with dynamite. The plan is successful, and Michael enters the space with the rats only to find out that he can absorb their electricity. The power of it kills the rats before they can eat him.
- As Michael escapes he steals a gun but doesn’t use it. Search helicopters locate him, but Tanner stops them. “The helicopter to my left began to descend when it suddenly started to wobble. It yawed violently to one side, veering directly into the path of another helicopter. Their blades collided and both helicopters exploded. The third and fourth helicopters dropped to the ground.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Jack says his “old man . . . drinks sometimes.”
- Michael is struck by darts which reduce his power and make him dazed and in pain.
- After Tanner tries to commit suicide, Hatch has him heavily sedated and medicated.
- When Tanner tries to harm others, Hatch says to his doctor, “Sedate the boy until anesthetic flows from his tear ducts.”
- There is occasional name-calling including words like “loser,” “pretty boy,” and “stupid.”
- Based on the electric children as models, the Elgen have created electric rats which are used to generate electricity by running on a grid. The rats can grow very large and glow like the children do.
- The seventeen electric children have electric-based powers and have a faint glow in the dark. We met Torstyn in the second book, who can microwave objects. We also learned about Quentin, who can create EMPs or electromagnetic pulses. For a complete list, read the review for The Prisoner of Cell 25.
by Madison Shooter