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Archvillain #1 Hardcover – October 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-7–Sixth-grader Kyle is smart, popular, and the planner of high-quality pranks. Then an encounter with a mysterious “space plasma” leaves him with cosmic intellect, super-strength, and the ability to fly. Kyle loves his new skills, but decides it's safest to keep them under wraps. However, the plasma has brought something else as well–a strange boy whom Kyle strongly suspects is an alien. Mighty Mike has superpowers too–but he isn't shy about exercising them in public. Mike quickly becomes a sensation with adults as well as kids, even though his good deeds don't always go smoothly. Kyle resents Mike taking over his top-dog status and suspects that the newcomer may have more sinister schemes in mind. He plans a super prank to expose him, but things get disastrously out of hand. There is a subtle underlying message about perception vs. reality. Kyle is not a particularly admirable character. He is self-centered and frequently uses his newfound powers to manipulate people. Much of his vaunted popularity seems to rest on his ability to humiliate others, especially in setting up grudge pranks on request. His crowd is quick to switch allegiance when a new sensation comes along. The author takes some sly digs at popular culture as well. The question of Mike's true identity is left unresolved. Is he an earnest, if somewhat naïve superhero or are Kyle's rather cynical suspicions on track? Who is the good guy and who is really the archvillain? Tune in next time....Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

When Kyle Camden comes to after something fishy happens during a night plasma storm, he feels stronger, faster, smarter. As he already considers himself quite the supergenius (devoted to showing folks how dumb they are), he now feels even better about how great he is. That’s until Mighty Mike, a kid who mysteriously appeared right around the same time as that plasma storm, shows up and annoyingly starts flying around, saving every day of the week. Kyle’s convinced Mike is an alien, and he sets out to defrock the caped imposter by donning a costume of his own and embarrassing him in public. Motivated almost entirely by jealousy and petty spite, Kyle is a far cry from a sympathetic character—in fact, many kids will see nothing more of his swelled head than a most swirly-worthy target. But he plays the antihero part with comic aplomb, and Lyga displays a nice grasp of superhero tropes (especially the gadgetry, with radiation-dampening antennas and the ilk) that middle-grade boys will flock to. Grades 4-7. --Ian Chipman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Series: Archvillain (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545196493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545196499
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #605,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Called a "YA rebel-author" by Kirkus Reviews, Barry Lyga has published twelve novels in various genres in his seven-year career, including the New York Times bestselling I Hunt Killers and his newest, Unsoul'd (for adults). His books have been or are slated to be published in nine different languages in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia.

After graduating from Yale with a degree in English, Lyga worked in the comic book industry before quitting to pursue his lifelong love of writing. In 2006, his first young adult novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, was published to rave reviews, including starred reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal. Publisher's Weekly named Lyga a "Flying Start" in December 2006 on the strength of the debut.

His second young adult novel, Boy Toy, received starred reviews in SLJ, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus. VOYA gave it its highest critical rating, and the Chicago Tribune called it "...an astounding portrayal of what it is like to be the young male victim." His third novel, Hero-Type, according to VOYA "proves that there are still fresh ideas and new, interesting story lines to be explored in young adult literature."

Since then, he has also written Goth Girl Rising (the sequel to his first novel), as well as the Archvillain series for middle-grade readers and the graphic novel Mangaman (with art by Colleen Doran).

His latest series is I Hunt Killers, called by the LA Times "one of the more daring concepts in recent years by a young-adult author" and an "extreme and utterly alluring narrative about nature versus nurture." The first book landed on both the New York Times and USAToday bestsellers lists, and the series has been optioned for television by Warner Bros./Silver Pictures.

Lyga lives and writes in New York City. His comic book collection is a lot smaller than it used to be, but is still way too big.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Maurer on January 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I will start off by stating I was excited to read this. I made my pledge to not read any more books from the library(see post from yesterday), but this one came in and I had to read it. Why? Because I enjoy the writing of this author. However, this one did not really do it for me. This is no Fanboy or Boy Toy in my mind. Maybe if I had not been reading middle grade sci-fi nonstop for the last month I would have liked it better, but compared to some other novels it just did not rise to the occasion.

I did not like the main character. Kyle just irritated me from the start. His boldness about how cool he was due to his pranks bothered me. There was nothing about him I liked. If there was someone like that in my school I would be very surprised to see him/her with many friends.

Mighty Mike arrives and I did not care for him either. He is so perfect in a superhero-esqe way. He was too perfect and too nice and at the same time completely stupid not being able to speak correctly and being oblivious to all aspects of Earth.

The story ends with it being wide open with no real closure just Kyle preparing for his next prank. This too bothered me as I understand that series make more money, but this one does not need to continue. If it does(maybe I am alone on my thoughts), then at least provide some type of closure as I felt like I was missing some final pages.

I hate to be negative of any book because I know that not everyone thinks like me. Don't deter your thoughts about reading this book because of my views. This is a superb author who I enjoy reading, but this one just did not grab me. However, maybe it will grab you. I always state that I will be honest and I did just that even though I feel bad for doing so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mel Odom VINE VOICE on December 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
These days superheroes are popping out everywhere in our media. We've got television shows like No Ordinary Family and the upcoming The Cape series, and 2011 will be a bumper crop of superheroes flying to the big screen.

Personally, I can't wait.

So my Spidey senses have been more alert than usual, seeking out the superheroic reads. However, I missed a perfect little gem that popped out onto the shelves in October. Thankfully I've since rectified that mistake and am now taking steps to make sure you don't make the same mistake.

Barry Lyga's Archvillain is just wonderful storytelling. The thing that makes this book remarkable is how deftly Lyga takes his readers into the viewpoint of the bad guy in the story. Let me correct that. Kyle Camden doesn't actually set out to be the villain. It just kind of happens to him. The way bad things will to any kid his age who's trying to find his way in the world.

Kyle's whole mission in life is to try to get people to stop taking themselves so seriously. Unfortunately, he doesn't know when to back off his mission and stay in safe territory. He's been in hot water off and on throughout his entire life.

The night he got a bath in some strange kind of plasma that may be from another planet just made things worse. Now Kyle is super smart, invulnerable to almost everything, and can fly. No one can stop him from doing what he wants to.

Except his own innate ability to screw things up. I laughed out loud at some of the things Kyle set his sights on (Pants Laser? To blast the pants off his nemesis, Mighty Mike? C'mon, that there's funny!)

The night he got his bath, another boy showed up with superpowers as well.
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Format: Hardcover
Don't you just love when an encounter with a mysterious "space plasma" leaves you with cosmic intellect, super-strength, and the ability to fly? Well, that hasn't happened to me, but it has happened to Kyle, the main character in Barry Lyga's "Archvillain." Although Kyle loves these new powers, he decides it's best not to share them with everyone. I mean, really, how would he explain it?

The weird plasma has also brought Mighty Mike to earth, who Kyle is sure is an alien. Mike has superpowers, too, but isn't shy about sharing them, especially in public. He becomes a hit with the adults and the kids in town, even though his good deeds sometimes turn into mishaps. When everyone thinks Mike is kidding because he doesn't quite pick up on things, he pulls it off with energy and enthusiasm, but Kyle knows the truth. He assesses Mike as an alien punk who is brain-dead.

The truth be told, Kyle resents Mike taking over his status as top dude and sure he is up to something. What is on that alien's agenda? Using the Prankster Manifesto, Kyle begins to plot a way to expose Mike's schemes, but things do get a bit out of hand. It starts to make the reader question what is really going on. Is Kyle as up-front as we think when we started the book? Is he not showing off his powers so he can manipulate others? What is going on here? Is the Prankster Manifesto for good old-fashioned fun or is it hurting and humiliating people? Is Mighty Mike as sweet as he seems?

Lyga does a great job fleshing out the characters and making the reader question behavior. What seems like good, humble behavior in the beginning makes a reader question what the hidden agenda is all about. Why hide the super powers if you could help people?
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