Otto Malpense may be only 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's why he ends up in H.I.V.E., handpicked (read: kidnapped) to become a member of the incoming class. Inside a volcano on a secluded island, Otto, along with his elite peers--the most athletic, technologically advanced, and smartest kids in the country--will be enrolled in Villainy Studies and Stealth and Evasion. But then Otto realizes that he's entered a six-year program--where leaving is not an option. Can Otto achieve what has never been done before and break out of H.I.V.E.?
One of the best book tropes is the orphan who is taken into a new and awesome world (ex: Harry Potter, The Thief Lord, The Graveyard Book). I love this story line, and I especially love it when an established trope is turned on its head. That is exactly what happens in H.I.V.E. when orphan Otto is taken into a new and awesome world, the Hogwarts of evil.
There is so much about this book that is fun. Scarily smart kids, escape plans, classes that teach proper grappling hook lessons, and teachers that are temporarily cats (I'm seeing shades of Harry Potter everywhere).
My one problem with the book is that it never fully commits to either "yay let's learn to be supervillains!" or "these people are completely evil and I'm getting out of here!" Instead, Walden tries to maintain a kind of middle ground. With everyone only partially evil, it's hard to know who, or what, to root for. But regardless, the story is fun! Definitely good for a quick read.
Three out of five H.I.V.E.minds.
Release Date: May 2007
Reading Level: Grade 5+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL WAL