Saved by Zero Hour

ZeroHourThe boys and girls who attend the Higher Institute of Villainous Education are being trained to become the next generation of malevolent supervillains. At H.I.V.E. they take classes in world domination and elementary evil. And one day they all hope to graduate with honors and begin their reign of terror.

Zero Hour is the sixth novel in Mark Walden’s likeable superspy/supervillain series. Up to this point, Otto Malpense and his friends have walked a fine line between villainous and virtuous behavior. Sure, they want to promote iniquity. But at the same time they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s been a delicate balance for the kids. How can you be a supervillain and a superhero at the same time?

Of course, there’s been slip-ups in the past. For example: In Dreadnought, the fourth novel in the series, Otto saved the life of the President of the United States. Uh-oh. That’s something the professors at H.I.V.E. definitely frown upon. If you weren’t paying attention, you might think the school’s name was actually an acronym for Higher Institute of Valorous Education.

Here in the latest novel, the author has finally thrown in the towel and allowed his characters to whole-heartedly embrace their good nature. Says Lucy Dexter, one of Otto’s classmates: “Just because we’re being taught how to manipulate and deceive doesn’t mean that’s the only path we can take.” She’s right, of course. Everyone makes choices in life. Just because your family tree is thick with thieves doesn’t mean you have to embrace your shady legacy.

Once again Otto and his friends must defeat their arch-nemesis Overlord, a pesky super computer that’s been trying to conquer the world for the past five novels. Frankly, it’s time the author unplugged this overachieving data processor. And the H.I.V.E. kids agree. “We’re gonna give Overlord the ass-kicking of a lifetime,” says Shelby Trinity.

What follows is a titanic battle featuring psychopathic AIs, giant mecha robot battles, flesh-eating nanites, submarine warfare, and nuclear explosions. It even features a little bit of kissing and PDA. It’s like we mentioned earlier: sometimes it’s up to the bad guys to save the world.

[H.I.V.E.: Zero Hour / By Mark Walden / First Printing: March 2012 / ISBN: 9781442421882]

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