If you’ve been following the H.I.V.E series, you’ll know that it’s centred around a school for future super-villains, run by Max Nero, a member of the council of an organization called G.L.O.V.E – Global League Of Villainous Enterprises. At the end of the last volume, Zero Hour, Nero dismissed the entire council and started again, with a council made up of H.I.V.E graduates on whom he believes he can rely.
As you can imagine, the former members aren’t happy – some even less happy than others. And there’s the organization known as the Disciples, formerly working with the evil super-computer Overlord, which wanted to take over our hero Otto’s body. Overlord is dead and the Disciples scattered … or are they? Who is the mysterious woman known as Minerva who has offered the ex-council an alliance? Will they accept the offer?
Back at the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, Otto Malpense and his friends are about to sit their exams and go on a field exercise called the Hunt, where you really had better excel, or else. Laura, the computer hacker, suggests that they steal the exam papers, mainly to embarrass the unpleasant new security chief. Well, they are villains-in-training. What could go wrong, anyway?
Read this and find out. Be warned, it ends on a cliffhanger – and some characters will do unexpected things.
The cover blurb (and isn't it a snazzy new design?) features a comment from Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, that his hero would fit right in at H.I.V.E. I can see his point, and not only because of the villain thing, but because the Fowl stories, like these, become darker as they go and because Artemis becomes nice. This is where the series is a little strange. You find yourself cheering for young villains, each of whom could be the hero or heroine of their own series. This is because the real baddies are so dreadful. They want to take over the world or even destroy it, while those behind H.I.V.E. just want to help themselves to the money, dress in style and enjoy a challenge.
There’s a lot of running around and blowing things up in this one, with characters hanging from gunship helicopters, driving tanks through an old Soviet base, fighting duels with super-weapons and escaping the forces of evil – er, the other forces of evil, seeing the good guys in this series are the forces of evil.
Despite the darker tone, there is still plenty of humour and excitement for those who have finished their Alex Rider and Young James Bond books. I finished this book in a day and a night and am now waiting anxiously for the next volume.
I’m also waiting to see if there will be a movie, as the first novel was optioned some time ago. A pity it wasn’t made when it was first optioned – Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, would have made a splendid Otto, but is too old now.