Premise: Otto Malpense may be only 13 years old, but he's already a criminal mastermind. That's why he was handpicked, without his knowledge or permission, to attend HIVE, a premiere school for villains. But Otto doesn't want to be at HIVE. Can he and his new friends be the first villainous students to ever escape?
Author: Mark Walden
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Science Fiction (advanced tech)
Series or Stand Alone: Book 1 of 8 (so far)
Content appropriate for: Grades 4-7
Format: Paperback from the used bookstore
Three adjectives that describe this book: predictable, action-packed, lacking
This book has been really hard for me to review and rate. At breakfast this morning, I asked Ashley to help me think through my feelings about H.I.V.E. I just couldn't get a handle on why I felt so meh about it.
She asked if the world-building was any good. After all, in a book about a top secret school for training villains, the good world-building is essential. The answer is, yes, the school is thoroughly imagined, wonderfully written, and very interesting.
She asked me if the plot involved a conflict that kept me interested. What's a good book without a plot? The answer is, yes, but... The idea of devising and implementing a complex escape plan is compelling, but the way Walden put the pieces together was way too predictable for my liking.
She asked if the characters were interesting and if the author made me care what happens to them? If you don't care about the characters, then why bother? The answer is kind of, but not really.
See - Otto and his friends want to escape H.I.V.E, but WHY? Walden never explains his reasoning or shows him wrestling with the options. From the moment he arrives, Otto wants to leave. No explanations.
Character development is present. I can tell you about each character's background and their skill set. But what's missing is their motivations. And it turns out that without motivations, it's impossible to care about what happens to the characters.