Book Review: Storm of Lightning

StormOfLightningby Anniel6/4/16
Book Number 5 in the Michael Vey Series, by Richard Paul Evans. Available on Kindle.  •  Book 1: The Prisoner of Cell 25  •  Book 2: Rise of the Elgen  •  Book 3: Battle of Ampere  •  Book 4: Hunt For Jade Dragon.

This series of books is very popular with young people, who call themselves “Veniacs”. The books are more understandable and ingenious if one reads them in order, but I wanted to acquaint people with the “theory” of conquest that the bad guy is putting into practice around the world and training his chosen successor to believe.

I edited out most of the questions in the dialogue and just show the instructions from said bad guy, and the books are not for the faint of heart. See if this creeps you out as seriously as it does me:

“The greatest threat to a dictator is not from without but from within. The first rule is you must keep your subjects divided. A united people is a smoldering revolution. A divided people is a conquered people.

“You make (the people) hate one another. Before World War Two Hitler was amazed and disgusted to discover the hate the German people exercised toward one another. He harnessed that animosity and directed it towards his own ends.

“(You begin that hatred) by teaching them that they have been wronged by one another – that they are victims of grave injustice – and encourage them to embrace their victimhood.

“(And if they haven’t been wronged?) Everyone has been wronged. . . everyone. And if you can’t find a potent enough current injustice, borrow someone else’s. Find one that happened to someone else long ago and make your citizen a crusader for justice. Imbue them with a sense of moral superiority as they trample the rights of others beneath their feet. Righteous indignation is the alibi of mobs and murderers.

“. . . cultural disparity is the easiest way to divide a nation. But divisions in humanity can always be found. Turn men against women and women against men. Divide the young from the old, and the rich from the poor, the educated from the uneducated, the religious from the nonreligious, the privileged from the underprivileged. Teach them to shame others, and to use shame as a tool to their own ends.

“Make the ridiculous idea of “equality” their rallying cry. Let them get so caught up in their supposed moral superiority that they’d rather see all men grovel in poverty than rise in differing levels of prosperity.

“Do not let them see that there has never been nor ever will be true equality in property or rights. Equality is not the nature of the world or even the universe. Even if you could guarantee everyone the same wealth, humans would reject the idea. They would simply find a different standard to create castes, as there will always be differences in intelligence, physical strength and beauty.

“Don’t worry if your propaganda is true or false. Truth is subjective. It’s as easy to tell a big lie as it is a small one. And any lie told enough will be regarded as truth. In dividing the young from the old, do not teach the youth the error of their elder’s ways, as they may see through your propaganda. Instead, mock their elders. Mocking requires neither proof nor truth, as it feeds on the fool’s ego. You will see that when it comes to the masses, the stupider the individual, the more they want to prove it to the world.

“The second rule is to keep the people distracted from the weightier and more complex matters of liberty and justice. Keep them obsessed by their amusements – just as the Roman emporer Commodus gave the Roman people games to distract them from his poor leadership. A championship soccer team may do more to ease a public’s suffering than a dozen social programs. If your subjects can name a movie star’s dog, but not the president of their country, you have no need to fear.

“The third rule is to teach them not to trust one another. An ancient proverb says, “Kings have many ears and many eyes.” You must build a web of many informants from within the population. Openly reward those who report upon their neighbors. If your subjects don’t know who is an informant and who isn’t, they will never risk speaking their grievances.”

I would like to see more people, young and old, read this book series. Try the books in order, you might like them.

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10 Responses to Book Review: Storm of Lightning

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    One suspects that the author was deliberately making a comparison between the villain and modern America. Certainly his techniques are precisely the methods of modern liberalism — although they usually proclaim the opposite (e.g., calls for national unity).

  2. Steve Lancaster says:

    You can save a lot of time by reading Eric Hoffer, The True Believer and The Ordeal of Change present similar conclusions.

    • Anniel says:

      Steve, Would YOUNG people ever want to read Eric Hoffer? How many adults would? Maybe the two books should be suggested on the Bookshelf, or, better still, reviews written of them.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I read most of the free Kindle sample of “The Prisoner of Cell 25.” And this really is literature aimed at school-aged children. But it does sound as if the author touches on many of the things a child has to deal with…especially in today’s totally insane government schools. I love how Vey is pulled yet again into the principal’s office for the offense of letting others stuff him (this time upside down) into the locker. It’s his fault for not resisting.

    I have no idea if that goes on (the ignoring of the bully, not bullying). We hear so much emphasis these days on the problem of “bullying” that I frankly believe it no more than I believe that Progressive-formed utopian college campuses harbor a “rape culture.” But maybe the author is plugged in on what is going on in his neck of the woods and this kind of blame-the-victim stuff is actually happening.

    As for the dictator’s philosophy, I’m not sure I agree with a lot of it. It seems like a stream of talking points or rationalizations. Surely a dictator would love nothing better than a united people under his ideas. That is the entire point of the typical totalitarian culture. And to get to that power, he might (and usually does) use divisions (including especially keeping people in a state of grievance) to get that power. Look at Trump. It works. He’s not where he is because of any special skill. He’s there because people are aggrieved. Whether they have a right to be aggrieved (they do) is a different story. But once aggrieved, people are far less choosy about how that grievance is sated.

    Certainly it is a common tool of dictatorial regimes that once in power, hatred tends to trumped up against outer groups and nations. It’s a way for people to safely (and politically correctly) express the grievance that would otherwise be turned back toward the dictator who has created horrible conditions for so many.

    I do think the author has some wise words about “equality”:

     

    Do not let them see that there has never been nor ever will be true equality in property or rights. Equality is not the nature of the world or even the universe. Even if you could guarantee everyone the same wealth, humans would reject the idea. They would simply find a different standard to create castes, as there will always be differences in intelligence, physical strength and beauty.

    In Leftist regimes, “equality” is always for the other guy. But *you* would rather live in a gated community away from the equalized misery of the unwashed proletariat whose purpose seems to be, in modern times, to show how damn compassionate you are. Clearly the author nailed it when he says there will always be casts and cliques, there will always be people who want to feel superior. In a free country, what tends to develop are dozens and dozens of classes. And in a free society, there is (re: Thomas Sowell) much movement between classes or situations. Life is not a static thing. But in a truly “equal” society you have equal misery spread amongst the proles with not much chance for improvement while a governing elite class holds the reins of power at the top. Trumpsters should note that there is nothing in Trump’s rhetoric that shows an inclination to break up this governmental elite and bureaucracy that is afflicting our own nation. Heckling a reporter is not the same thing.

    And obviously the author is right about the utility of the big lie. Strange as it is, it seems to work. And a bought-off (distracted) public (entitlements are our bread-and-circuses) is a way for a ruling class to maintain power.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I get the impression from Anniel’s review that the big quote is from the villain, explaining his techniques. How much the author would agree is hard to say — other than no doubt believing these techniques work.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Oh, yes. I got that. I just wondered if the dialogue would actually help clear up the subject. Would a child walk away from this thinking “Bad guys want disunity. So what we need is unity.” And yet the biggest cudgel against freedom is the idea that we must all unify, lose our individuality and get with the plan.

        I just thought he was intellectualizing. Sort of drifting. It sounded nice but is what he said clear and informative?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Well, collectivists do need an internal enemy, though not necessarily to the degree that the villain proclaims. Hitler was very much one for keeping his subordinates at cross-purposes so they wouldn’t combine against him (so much for the vaunted Nazi efficiency). But the convenient internal enemy — combined with whatever external enemy can be found, that always being the “health of the State” — is enough to keep control of the citizenry at large.

        • Anniel says:

          Brad and Timothy, One of the reasons I, as an adult, like these books, which I view in part as Teenage Science fiction, is that they start out about seemingly normal kids living normal lives, but the boy with Tourette’s Syndrome and the sort of empty headed cheerleader have powers they don’t understand. Each book reveals to you and to them just how different they really are and how they have to grow as they make choices between good and evil, and how to overcome.

          Not every young person has “special” gifts, but even the “normal” ones have strengths and join in the fight as they learn what it is they fight.

          What is quoted above is done so in conjunction with the results of such planning, graphically and bloodily displayed. The president of the first peaceful country taken over tries to rouse his people. He has his tongue surgically removed, is then stripped naked, placed in a hanging cage and the people must only refer to him as the first monkey. One man who cries and refers to the president as “Sir” has his ears cut off, is chained to the same cage and watches his children killed in front of him.

          Will people who read that, and the other evils presented in each book, ever again doubt evil exists, and that they, too, have choices to make?

          So, yes, adults may not “like” the books, but I feel more hopeful for the future of our children and grand-children, so long as there are Veyniacs amongst us.

  4. pst4usa says:

    It is a great book series Anniel, Sandy and I love the books, mostly because they way our grand kids get into them, but in reality, we enjoy them as well for the stories. Simple good vs. evil, with some modern twists. But the theme that these non heroes can become heroes, by just standing up and fighting, is nice to see again. Change the world, I don’t know, but it beats the current crop of it takes a super hero to fight our battles for us movies. The main character is close to a super hero, but a very reluctant one. These books also include some nice teen love stories that do not need sex thrown in, just to hold the readers interest. (kind of nice to see for my grand kids anyway.)
    So if you want to be entertained, without having to over think the story, you may just enjoy this series, we do.

    • Anniel says:

      I’m so glad to hear that the adults in the house love these books, too. A new one is due out shortly and my grandkids are excited, and so am I. I’m glad the ex-chairman of the board is safe again and have been dying to know who he has met up with.

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