H.I.V.E. (Higher Institute of Villainous Education)

H.I.V.E. (Higher Institute of Villainous Education)

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Mark Walden

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 20mm | 235g
  • Publication date: 1 August 2011
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1408815907
  • ISBN 13: 9781408815908
  • Sales rank: 47,193

Product description

H.I.V.E. (Higher Institute of Villainous Education) is a top-secret school of applied villainy where children with a precocious gift for wrongdoing are sent to develop their talents into criminal mastermind. After all, 'villains have the best lines and wear the best costumes'. One small catch is that the children cannot leave until training is complete, six years later. With villainy comes a certain freedom of thought, and every year one student in particular will show exceptional talent - after all, it takes the best to produce the worst. This year there are two students: Otto Malpense and his new friend Wing Fanchu are both exceptionally bad, and they are definitely not keen on being held against their will for six long years ...

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Author information

Mark Walden's first book, H.I.V.E., won Richard and Judy's 'Best Kids' Books Ever' 9+ category. Paramount has optioned the film rights, and it was chosen as one of ten titles for Booktrust's first Booked Up scheme. Mark has followed this success with five further titles in the extraordinarily brilliant H.I.V.E. series and as a WBD author for 2009. He lives with his family in Hampshire.

Customer reviews

By Jack Heath 03 Jun 2012 5

If you kidnapped the world's most mischeivous, cunning teenagers and imprisoned them at a secret training academy for supervillains, what would happen?

That's the shamelessly ridiculous premise of Mark Walden's H.I.V.E. (which stands for Higher Institute of Villainous Education) and if you can suspend your disbelief far enough, you will find it a rewarding read. The dialogue is witty, the plot twists deft, and the setting inventive, with plenty of knowing nods to the comic books and Bond films which pioneered the supervillain tropes. (The school is built within a volcano and features special classes for henchmen.)

Walden has strong feel for clichés, and delights in using them to turn the reader's expectations upside-down. The skinny, dimwitted blonde is revealed to be more devious than any of her fellow students. The cold, katana-wielding Japanese boy turns out to be not an enemy but a friend. But the book's real strength is the protagonist, Otto Malpense, whose back story is exposed in teasing fragments and whose plan to escape from H.I.V.E. is the engine that drives the story at a cracking pace.

When my own writing is described as cinematic, I struggle to take it as a compliment, since films tend to be more superficial than books. They lack smells, tastes, themes and thoughts. With its flashy set-pieces and costumes, H.I.V.E. sometimes does feel like a movie rather than a novel. But it's such a good movie that it doesn't matter, so I'd recommend it to anyone who thought Hogwarts lacked gadgetry.

Review quote

'A comedy thriller, full of baddies, action and lashings of humour' Sunday Express 'An exhuberant Dahl-esque escapade' Financial Times 'Exciting, clever and all in all brilliant' Sunday Telegraph