Rise of the Elgen (Michael Vey #2), by Richard Paul Evans
"Michael Vey 2: Rise of the Elgen" was another really enjoyable book in the "Michael Vey" series, despite a couple of more-or-less problematic parts.
As the book opens, Michael and the Electroclan (which now consists of Michael, Ostin, Taylor, Abigail, Grace, Ian, Jack, McKenna, Wade, and Zeus) return from California to Idaho. We know from the prologue that there is a trap set up for the Electroclan, but it takes until the Electroclan returns to Ostin's home for Ian (whose eyes are blind, but who can use electrolocation to "see" anything -- even miles away and through walls) to realize that Ostin's parents are not there, but that his apartment is full of Elgen guards.
While they are searching for a safe place where they can download the data that Grace is carrying inside herself so that they can begin the search for Michael's mother, Michael is contacted by an anonymous source of information. This source reaches Michael through a cell phone that has no dial pad and no battery. The phone has two metal strips on the side, and is powered by the electricity in Michael's own body, which makes it, so far as we know, unusable by anyone else. The source, who comes to be known as "the voice" reassures Michael that Ostin's parents are safe.
Eventually the kids find a safe place that has a computer with a hard drive that is large enough to download the data that Grace is holding inside herself -- the home of Jack and Wade's friend Mitchell. They download the information and find out that Michael's mother is being held in an Elgen facility in Peru. The voice helps them get to Peru.
Meanwhile, things are changing rapidly for Hatch. His scientists have found a way to create limitless clean energy. I thought about keeping it as a surprise, but since it's telegraphed on the cover, I'll just tell you. They have created electric rats. The more rats they breed (two rats can create hundreds of millions of descendants in three years), the more rat-powered plants they can build. The more plants they build, the more of the world Elgen can control by raising the price of power or threatening to withhold electricity from areas that rebel.
The board of Elgen has decided that the electric rat plan is the wave of the future, and so they discontinue Hatch's project to create more Glows. They order Hatch to provide the existing Glows with trust funds and arrange for their futures outside of his influence, but Hatch isn't going to go easily. He makes moves to not only hold on to the Glows, but to take over Elgen's electric-rat-based plants for himself.
The electric rats are also unusually large (they are about the size of a large cat) and carnivorous. They can strip a bull clean in minutes, and we won't go into what happens to people who anger Hatch.
The problematic things include what is, for me, a lot of violence. Much of the violence is meted out by the villains (including the deaths by rat), but some of it is the result of actions on the part of the heroes. Several people are killed onscreen -- during a life-or-death situation, granted -- by a member of the Electroclan towards the end of the book, and there are a few scenes of animals being killed when it is not a life-or-death situation. Speaking of animals, I think that Evans gets the bite pattern of an anaconda wrong, but I am not a herpetologist. It just seemed like it had to be wrong. Though it is a mark of how good Evans's research is that that is the only real error I can find in the science.
Additionally, there is a stereotypical indigenous tribe, pierced septums and everything, that appears in this book. This made me more than slightly uncomfortable, but I did a little research, and apparently the description Evans gives is fairly representative of some of the uncontacted tribes in the region.
And something else happens towards the end of the book that made me email Evans to ask what that was about. And I'm not the type who emails authors frequently. In fact, I don't think I have ever done that before.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book and am really looking forward to the next book in the series. Particularly if Evans gives a good explanation for the head-scratching moment that made me email him.