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Escape Velocity (Hive) by Mark Walden

The Higher Institute of Villainous Education (H.I.V.E.) is in terrible danger. Its headmaster, Nero, has been kidnapped by a shady anti-terrorist agency called H.O.P.E. Its crack assassin, Raven, is missing, feared dead. It's all up to prize criminal student Otto Malpense to save him by breaking into MI6 and finding his whereabouts. But first Otto must escape the school itself, a fraught and dangerous task in itself, now Number One has appointed his old enemy the Contessa as its new head. He'll need every friend he's got to even begin...

Escape Velocity (Hive) by Mark Walden

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Exciting criminal adventure caper with a side order of irony and humour. It presses all the buttons with style although perhaps brings little new to the field.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 0747594856

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Escape Velocity is the third book about supervillain-to-be Otto Malpense and it goes one step further in solving the mystery surrounding Otto's somewhat startling criminal abilities. He's now able to interface with and control any computer with which he comes into contact. Even Otto finds this unnerving, but he makes a true friend in the school's AI guardian, H.I.V.E.mind, and this helps him keep his virtual feet almost on the virtual ground.

It really is kidult action film stuff, with the bulk of the novel taken up with break-in, fight or chase scenes. There's lots of high kicking, plenty of rappelling, and enough high-tech gadgetry to keep the geekiest of fans in raptures. The baddies (we can't say villains, because the goodies are villains too, it's a crime academy, remember) are the stuff of comic books - too horribly wicked for words. The goodies, however, are developing through the series; it's not just Otto himself who gets to evolve, his classmates and teachers all do too. So we do have some interesting character dynamics, but they're kept well away from the goodie/baddie divide. Nothing gets in the way of the chases and fights.

The press sheet calls the H.I.V.E. series original, but I'm afraid I cannot agree. The teen action thriller market is a crowded one - indeed, I read so many for Bookbag that one seems to segue into another - and Otto Malpense isn't anything new. But he is fun, he is enjoyable to read, and he does deliver everything the genre fan could possibly want.

My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

They should read Artemis Fowl if they haven't already. They might also like Thieves Like Us by Stephen Cole. We've also enjoyed Earthfall by Mark Walden.

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Buy Escape Velocity (Hive) by Mark Walden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Escape Velocity (Hive) by Mark Walden at


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