HIGHER INSTITUTE OF VILLAINOUS EDUCATION Otto Malpense may only be thirteen years old, but so far he has managed to run the orphanage where he lives, and he has come up with a plan clever enough to trick the most powerful man in the country. He is the perfect candidate to become the world's next supervillain. That is why he ends up at H.I.V.E., handpicked to become a member of the incoming class. The students have been kidnapped and brought to a secluded island inside a seemingly active volcano, where the school has resided for decades. All the kids are elite; they are the most athletic, the most technically advanced, and the smartest in the country. Inside the cavernous marble rooms, floodlit hangars, and steel doors, the students are enrolled in Villainy Studies and Stealth and Evasion 101. But what Otto soon comes to realize is that this is a six-year program, and leaving is not an option. With the help of his new friends: an athletic martial-arts expert; a world-famous, beautiful diamond thief; and a spunky computer genius -- the only other people who seem to want to leave -- can Otto achieve what has never been done before and break out of H.I.V.E.?
Mischievously talented teenagers star in Walden's debut novel, which envisions the educational training of future megalomaniacs and criminal masterminds. Otto Malpense, a 13-year-old orphan, awakens aboard a helicopter with no memory of how he got there. He soon discovers that he and a few hundred other teens have been abducted by the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, a secret school committed to nurturing youth with "a special talent for the supremely villainous." Dr. Nero, the institute's founder, introduces the new students to the institute, located in a sprawling underground complex on a volcanic island. Otto, who has a photogenic memory, quickly befriends Wing Fanchu, a martial arts expert; Laura Brand, an expert with electronics); and Shelby Trinity, a dextrous jewel thief. The foursome conspire to escape their captors, and engineer a plan to return to their old lives. The multicultural array of staff and students Walden has created exude a cartoonish brand of over-the-top villainy reminiscent of Austin Powers or James Bond. Despite the villains' lack of bite (save for the giant man-eating plant) Walden's characters are memorable, if a bit cliched in execution. Otto and the others ultimately decide to stay at the institute; readers may well anticipate getting answers to several threads left open for subsequent installments. Ages 10-14. (May)
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Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
January 28, 2008
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