Before I begin this review, let me tell you my story around Michael Vey. This book series has changed my life more than any other book series in existence, and you’ll see in a minute why there’s no exaggeration. Without Michael Vey, I wouldn’t be a reviewer, a reader, or a YouTuber, and definitely not as good of a writer. I was given this book as a gift on Christmas in 2013, and having nothing better to do after presents were opened, I tried it out, and even though I had a book published, I just wasn’t much of a reader. I sped through it, loved it, immediately got the sequel, then devoured the third, and a few months later, during which time I was now devouring books like Matilda’s second cousin, I made my first ever YouTube video, which was me and my two friends auditioning for a possible movie adaptation. And yeah, we could’ve done better. My two friends are twins, but not exact twins. They auditioned for Taylor and Tara. I auditioned for Zeus, and the reason why is because I developed a book crush on him, the first of this sort, which made me learn a lot about myself in those developing years. I was only 15. Good times.
In other words, the book turned me into a bookaholic, a book reviewer, a YouTuber, and inadvertently helped me learn a big part of myself. I was satisfied with how the series ended in the 7th book, The Final Spark. I collected all the books, kept them cherished for years, and I moved onto new series. But five years later we now have a continuation, and though I was and still am on board, my satisfaction was…satisfied, you know? However, there were always two glaring questions in my head; the status of the last two kids in line with the antagonist, and the status of the empire the gang had finally defeated. I guess my questions are now going to be resolved!
One thing I don’t want to mention but have to was my surprise Evans dedicated the book to Glenn Beck. I’d never noticed it in previous instalments, and so maybe this is the first time in the series this is like this, but there’s a small sense of rightwingism to this book. It’s not preachy against anything or intolerant, you just notice it makes a point of most of our old friends moving down to Texas and going to Christian universities, and one character uses the word “grooming”, in Italics and all, to describe someone in their group being brainwashed, a word Republicans overwhelmingly love to antagonizingly use when kids are taught to be loving and empathic towards people different from societal norms. It felt a little like an attempt to paint people who are claimed “groomers” as bad people who ruin friendships and bring people to the dark side. You might be thinking I’m being picky here, and maybe everything I said wasn’t really meant to be taken that way. Doing some quick research I found out that Evans’ publisher, Mercury Ink, is something Beck founded, so maybe that explains the dedication. My point is, Beck is a horrible person and even if he “believed in Michael Vey from the beginning”, it’s not a good image for the series. Heck, maybe Beck forced Evans to put those little things in the book to green-light it!
But I did my best to just move on from all of that and not be overly critical and review the book without something like these things causing an unfair diminish. And the result is I’d say a relatively decent follow-up. There are some noticeable flaws, but this series is one of the most overall enjoyable ones you can buy, and The Parasite keeps that tradition going. I don’t continue a series all the way up to the eighth book if it’s not enjoyable as heck!
So, it’s been three years since the events of the seventh book. The long-standing enemy of the Electroclan, the Elgen, a corporation bent on world domination with their electricity-producing tech and the torturing of everyone who stands against them, including and especially any of the special electric children, has been taken down. Or at least given a whole new leaf. Hatch has died. And Michael’s back-from-the-dead father is alive and has now commandeered business. Him, Michael and his mom are now a family again. And the Electroclan? They’ve gone their separate ways to attend different universities or expeditions and figure out what they want to do now. They may use their powers from time to time to have some fun with unsuspecting citizens. They are still kids after all, and if most of us had superpowers, let’s face it, we’d have fun. Some have properly utilized their might for the good of humanity; brainiac Ostin is now in Caltech and looking into glowworm possibilities, Ian is using his powers to find long-lost sunken treasures, and Jack is now head of security for the Starxource plant in Peru. Not all is well with him or Abigail, though. So you could say things aren’t exactly perfect.
The Electroclan get together for a reunion. People get themselves onto planes, and they definitely have the funds to afford it. But their reunion is cut short and they have to begin a rescue mission when not one but two of their members are abducted and taken to Peru, the same place where Jack was working and is now mysteriously not talking to any of them. He must’ve gotten captured as well. We learn that the Elgen had opposing companies, or should I say tribes, who were ready to try and get their head in the game if and when Hatch was ever beaten. In other words, the Electroclan beat one tyrant but left behind the land for new ones to grow, so welcome back, Michael Vey!
Even though the book series has changed my life, I will admit it is not a perfect series, but no series has to be. Evans has a writing style where we learn some new info, and then we meet up with characters who want to know what’s up, and we’re told the info all over again. You don’t often hear “He explained what he was told” but instead get a big flashback. And sometimes that can feel unnecessary. The fourth book had us in three different situations where someone says “What’s a savant?” Also, sometimes we are treated to the characters getting to their mission destination and receiving first-class treatment of meals and bedspreads, even when you feel the people they’re with tend to focus more on security and safety than the best comforters and water heaters. But I guess an appeal of the Michael Vey series is imagining we’re with these characters, both fighting for their lives and being given the appreciation for it. Maybe when we all end up superheroes, we’ll be treated to some fine dining out in the field.
It’s always been fun when the superpowered kids either step up and use their powers for good, or use them to pull pranks. And it’s often a mix with the two, and The Parasite delivers. Also, I’d just finished reading Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow before picking this book up, which was a big know-it-all on the underworld of our technology. This book had a brainiac vibe too. Like the other Michael Vey books, this is an outstanding look into the meshing of science and fiction, a look into how our certain devices can be overrun or our cities turned to shreds if we were able to control electricity certain ways, and this time there’s also a light mixture of history and geography that creates the new conflict. You can tell Evans really did his homework here, not just with structuring a new conflict but making sure we’re not overwhelmed by the facts.
There is a twist at the end and a big cliffhanger, and this one is…head-scratching. I honestly smell a rat in it, and you will too. I’m sure there’s something up, and if not, it’s the dumbest thing to happen in Michael Vey existence. But I’m sure it isn’t, because I trust Evans to pull through. Most of this book feels a bit like a prelude to the next installments, however many there will be, and the fifth book, Storm of Lightning, was a lot more like that, faking us out on the daunting cliffhanger of the fourth book. But I didn’t mind that this time, because the setup raises a bunch of questions and poses threats where the stakes are perhaps higher than they’ve ever been for the world.
A little later, I’m going to rank all the Michael Vey books from least favourite to favourite. I look forward to doing that and reminiscing about the series that most changed my life!