Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review - "St. Viper's School for Super Villains"

Being bad has its own rewards, and the realm of juvenile literature has been taking advantage of this axiom a lot lately.  In The Merits of Mischief by T.R. Burns, pranks and misbehavior rules at Kilter Academy, and in the Vordak series by Scott Seegert, being bad is not just a perk, it’s a demand.  New to this trend of underhanded heroes is St. Viper’s School for Super Villains by Kim Donovan, the first installment of which is entitled The Riotous Rocket Ship Robbery.

Demon Kid has a lot to live up to; his father is Demon King after all, super villain extraordinaire.  So it is with great expectations that he arrives at St. Viper’s School for Super Villains.  Fortunately for Demon, he’s made a few friends, including Stretch and Shrink; unfortunately, he’s made a few enemies, too, on his first day, including the popular and devious Chill.  And what better way to make your name at a super villain school and deal with bullies than a few harmless pranks?  Things get out of hand (or out-of-orbit, you might say), when Demon and the gang re-steal a rocket ship and plan to return it to the International Space Centre for a handsome reward.  Suddenly everyone is on their back, good guys, bad guys, even their teachers.

The trick to making bad guys your good guy is making the audience root for them.  For poor, hapless and hopelessly deluded Vordak, it’s the hope that maybe one day he’ll get something right (though that’s not very likely).  For Demon, it’s his desire to make good on the family name, and make a name for himself in the process, which is something to which we can all relate.  Demon’s adventures are funny, and have real stakes.

This is a very short volume.  My copy clocked in at only sixty-nine pages, so it’s easily doable as a one-sitting read.  This is both good and bad.  Good, because there is nothing wasted, not a flabby scene to be had.  Bad because I was left wanting more.  I wanted to know more about Demon, about his life with his father and his “normal” mother.  I wanted to know more about Stretch and Shrink and Wolfgang.  I wanted some development of the bad guys, and I really wanted to spend more time with Demon’s hilarious professors.  The handy dandy #1 next to the title implies that there will be more to Demon’s escapades, and this makes me glad.  I only hope that future installments will have a little more meat on the bone.

St. Viper’s School for Super Villains: The Riotous Rocket Ship Robbery by Kim Donovan
2012, Squawk Books
E-copy provided by author for review

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