Expected Publication: May 20th, 2014
V Is For Villain
By: Peter Moore
Brad Baron is used to looking lame compared to his older brother, Blake. Though Brad's basically a genius, Blake is a superhero in the elite Justice Force. And Brad doesn't measure up at his high school, either, where powers like super-strength and flying are the norm. So when Brad makes friends who are more into political action than weight-lifting, he's happy to join a new crew - especially since it means spending more time with Layla, a girl who may or may not have a totally illegal, totally secret super-power. And with her help, Brad begins to hone a dangerous new power of her own.
But when they're pulled into a web of nefarious criminals, high-stakes battles, and startling family secrets, Brad must choose which side he's on. And once he does there's no turning back.
Perfect for fans of The Avengers, Iron Man, and classic comic books, V Is For Villain reveals that it's good to be bad.
This book reminded me of a cross between the Disney film, Sky High, and a recent superhero read called Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. It has elements of YA angst, with the majority of the novel being set in a superhero school and the classes being split into those with powers and those without them (or with entirely useless or barely there ones). The Disney edge about it is that the novel centers around the Baron family, is which Blake has all the powers and works on a team, as a real-life superhero. His younger brother Brad is ordinary and viewed as an embarrassment to the family, a freak accident of nature. The Steelheart thing about this book, is that the entire world knows about the superheroes. They are the celebrities of this world and are followed constantly for coverage of their heroic exploits.
Brad is the protagonist of this novel and we spend the whole thing in his head, trying right along with him to decide if the superheroes really are the good guys and if he should become a villain instead. We definitely get Brad's end of the spectrum quite a bit more, with him almost being paralyzed at the start of the book after being tackled by one of the powered kids too hard. After mouthing off to his teachers one too many times, Brad is switched over to the A Program, and falls in with a group of kids who call themselves A-Holes. The real reason Brad is interested in becoming villain though, is to hack into his geneticist mother's computers, and look at his gene mapping. He wants to know why Brad has powers and he doesn't, when genetically speaking he should. But digging deeper into his own past brings to the forefront a horrifying secret about the involvement of the government in the existence of super powers in the world - and just who the real heroes and villains are after all.
I really enjoyed reading this one. I felt that the characters were well developed, especially Brad and Layla, who were both really trying to think things through and have a sound reasoning for going to "the dark side." Also, the whole superpower thing with Brad made for an interesting ride. I wasn't expecting Moore to give him a secret one that he never knew he had. It did make for a connection with Layla on a completely different level and still allowed Brad to be a societal outcast, albeit in a different way. I liked the rest of the crew too, but felt like they were little kids playing dress up and sure enough, as soon as shit got real they all bailed out. Blake was a superb caricature of the smug, self-involved, dumb brute hero character that's common in comics - that is, until he wasn't. I loved the way Moore lulls you into thinking everyone is something different than really are and rips you apart with revelations. My only complaint is that while the big reveal about Brad and Blake's respective powers at the end made sense, it was pretty cliched and really damn "muhahaha" in tone. Other than that, I truly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to fans of comics and superheroes. It struck the right balance most of the time between humor, action and philosophical musings.
VERDICT: 4/5 Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is May 20th, 2014.*