Customer Review

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hive, 12 Sept. 2008
This review is from: H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education (Paperback)
This is the second book out this year about a darker version of Hogwarts, although, since the two schools are set in our magic-free world, I suppose they're more like the opposite of whatever school trained the Marvel superheroes. Kids at a school for supervillains is, of course, a really terrific premise, if a slightly ominous commentary on our times. The other book, which I read first, is Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks. Evil Genius disappointed me by bogging itself down considerably in YA angst and dull plot points. In contrast H.I.V.E., while it threw me off in the first chapter, ended up being an entertaining, well-put-together book with a likable hero, Otto Malpense (yeah: last name Bad Thought!). What put me off at first was that a young Asian martial-arts expert and future roommate to Otto, Wing Fanchu, was described at least half a dozen times in the first 15 pages or so as having an impassive face. And then there's the H.I.V.E. student who's a fat German boy, a veritable clone of Roald Dahl's Augustus Gloop. This struck me as stereotyping--not simply un-PC, but cliched. HOWEVER, the rest of the book went on to be so engaging that I've decided to forgive Walden for those few bits of junk. H.I.V.E. is fast-paced, which is a real relief after Evil Genius. The book is sprinkled with humor, plot twists, and creative touches, e.g., the school motto is simply "Do Unto Others." Otto soon finds a team of buddies (Ron, Hermione, Neville) with a variety of abilities. And the story manages to wrap up nicely even as it sets us up for the inevitable Book Two. Bottom line: your 9- to 13-year-old will get a kick out of Otto Malpense and his villainous school!
The HIVE series are good, They dont come close to Jason Steed or Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz. ( I think Horowitz wrote Fledgling Jason Steed under a pen name) but are comparable to Jimmy Coates, Cherub and Young James Bond books.
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