Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink
Michael has a secret: he’s electric. He can shock others by touching them and then “pulsing.” After a particularly bad encounter with the school’s bullies that pick on him because of his small build and Tourette’s syndrome, Michael snaps and shocks them. Another student, popular cheerleader Taylor, sees this encounter. Come to find out she is also electric; she can “reboot” people’s minds to make them momentarily confused. Michael and Taylor, with the help of Michael’s best friend and brainiac Ostin, go looking for some answers only to discover that they are two of seventeen children that survived a terrible mechanical malfunction when they were born at the same hospital. Worse, the company responsible, the Elgen, are looking for them. Soon the Elgen arrive and both Taylor and Michael’s mothers are kidnapped. Michael and Ostin enlist Jack and Wade, two of the bullies, to drive them from Idaho to Pasadena to rescue them. The Elgen, headed by Dr. Hatch, attempt to recruit Taylor, but she refuses when they ask her to demonstrate absolute loyalty by killing someone with her powers. Michael and Ostin infiltrate the Elgen facility and rescue Taylor and some of the other “Glows” who had also resisted. The group of new friends manage to escape and destroy the Elgen’s center in Pasadena, but they are unable to free Michael’s mother because she was transferred to another Elgen facility.
Richard Paul Evans has written a very intriguing first novel to this series. Although obviously fictional, Evans uses enough scientific reasoning to allow his readers to easily suspend their disbelief and become completely sucked into this fast-paced, exciting adventure. Michael is a very real character, with a likable personality and lots of room to grow and discover himself. The other characters are funny and well-developed. The romance between Taylor and Michael is a little predictable and too fast-paced considering that they end up together at the end of the first book in this series, but it’s clean which is refreshing. And although it’s mainly an action story, the book also presents some interesting moral dilemmas and questions. Highly recommended and appropriate for both upper-intermediate readers and teens.