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Thursday, January 19, 2012

H.I.V.E Aftershock by Mark Walden. Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2011

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.


Lan said...

Sounds like my kind of book. And I keep meaning to read the Artemis Fowl books as well but I worry they will be too middle grade for me. What do you think?

Sue Bursztynski said...

Artemis Fowl is a wonderful series. It has one thing, and one only, in common with the Harry Potter series; the hero starts off as eleven years old and grows up in the course of the books. So - were you okay with the early Potter books?

It's also got a lot of in-jokes that adult readers will enjoy. Then there are the fairies: they do things with technology, not magic as we think of it. Dwarves wear trousers with flaps at the back. They eat their way through the earth and are propelled by - er, farts. Very strong farts. Holly, the fairy kidnapped in the first volume by Artemis and held for ransom, is more like a female James Bond than Tinkerbell. The technician is a centaur called Foaly (geddit?).

Borrow it from the library and if you don't love it, you needn't read the rest. But I'd be very surprised if you don't love it. ;-)