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V is for Villain Hardcover – May 20, 2014

4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Brad Baron has been living in the shadow of his older brother, Blake, all his life. Blake is bigger, stronger, faster—and he can fly. Somehow, Blake got the superpower genes, and all Brad got was enhanced intelligence. In the superherocentric world of V Is for Villain, brains don’t count for much. “Just because you don’t have powers . . . doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a human being,” says Blake. Who wouldn’t turn villain in the face of that kind of attitude? And when Brad is transferred out of the hero program at his school, he meets other kids like him with “minor” or low-level powers, kids who question the might-equals-right paradigm that exalts superheroes without regard to the consequences of their methods. Maybe the difference between hero and villain is muddier than it seems. Some of the characterizations in this quasi-dystopian novel can be a little heavy-handed, but with plenty of plot twists, dastardly conspiracies, and a snarky narrator, the latest from Moore (Red Moon Rising, 2011) has lots of sparkle. Grades 8-11. --Paula Willey

Review


In this provocative adventure, Moore (Red Moon Rising) explores the dichotomies of good versus evil and nature versus nurture through the story of a teenage scion of a heroic family who's forced into a life of rebellion. Because he's "unpowered," Brad Baron can never live up to the standards set by his legendary father and brother, but he strives on-until rampant prejudice and casual neglect lead him to make friends with a band of malcontents bent on changing the system through supervillainy. Discovering his latent, illegal power of telepathy, Brad adopts their mission as his own and discovers dark secrets underlying everything he's ever believed. While Moore's story stands on its own as a superpowered coming-of-age story, complete with a bad-girl love interest and dramatic scenery-destroying battles, it's also a subtle criticism of institutionalized privilege-in this case, featuring a society in which flashy physical powers are valued more than less-obvious ones, and normal people are practically faceless bystanders. Come for the fights and tights, stay for the fascinating evolution of a sympathetic villain. Ages 12 up.
Publishers Weekly

Being the nonpowered brother of a superhero could turn any good kid bad.
Sixteen-year-old Brad Baron attends Monroe Academy for Powered Teens with the powerful children and siblings of other superheroes. Having no powers makes this a dangerous proposition, especially in Physical Training, a fact made all too clear when Brad is laid up for several weeks with shattered vertebrae. He's moved (involuntarily) to the alternative program, and not only does he make a few friends, but also discovers teachers who aren't jerks or hero-worshippers. However, his big, dumb brother, Blake, aka Artillery of Justice Force, thinks Brad's new friends make him look bad. Blake's attempts at meddling only serve to deepen Brad's anti-hero sentiments. Brad and his friends form an alliance when he finally discovers his own latent telepathy, and they seek out connections in a world where telepathy is illegal. When they make a startling discovery about the origin of superpowers, what should they do with the knowledge? And will they survive any decision they make? Moore's science fantasy takes place in a recognizable world, and young teens will identify with Brad and his cohorts. Well-crafted characters, moral nuance, and a tale with nice, believable twists make this a great addition to the teen-superhero genre.
This is superhero fiction done right. (Fantasy. 12 & up)—Kirkus --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423157494
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423157496
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Moore has been writing fiction since he was eleven years old. He has been studying werewolves as an amateur lycanthropologist since he was even younger. Because he studied hard in high school and ate all his vegetables, he was able to attend Vassar College and Columbia University. Though he briefly considered a career in the FBI, America can rest easy: it didn't work out. Instead, he has worked as a screenwriter, college professor, English teacher, and guidance counselor. He lives with his wife and two kids in Westchester, New York. This is his third book for young adults. He strongly denies all rumors that he is himself a werewolf. Still, he can't explain where he goes every full moon.

His first two novels, BLIND SIGHTED and CAUGHT IN THE ACT were published by Viking.

RED MOON RISING is coming soon from Hyperion.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a huge sucker for superhero books. When I heard about V IS FOR VILLAIN, I knew that I had to read it. And it definitely scratched some of my superhero itches, like a complicated relationship between the protagonist and his arch-nemesis. At the same time, I was never quite convinced of the world.

Brad Baron lives in a world shaped by superheroes and their battles with Phaetons. The superheroes were all created decades ago, and the newest ones are generally legacies. Both Brad's father and brother are famous heroes. Phaetons are created when people try to mutate their genes themselves -- it often goes wrong. Brad has super genes, but only for intelligence. That means he can't keep up in the Academy, which focuses on physical powers. He gets shunted off to the A-track. (A is for alternative.)

The Academy, and by extension the world's, focus on certain powers just never quite worked for me. What can I say, some of my favorite superheroes are the ones without powers. And Brad, in his rise to villainy, shows pretty thoroughly just how dangerous someone can be without physical powers. Surely there were others before him? Decades of people with powers, why no supervillains that aren't Phaetons? Plus, quite a bit of worldbuilding is done through expository footnotes that quickly get boring.

At the same time, I found the characters very believable. Brad and his friends have pretty radical ideas about what it means to be a hero -- albeit radical for their society. They're in favor of things like bringing people to trial instead of killing them on the spot. But Brad also has a nasty streak of entitlement. Layla, the head of the alternative kids, may or may not be interested in Brad. Either way, she definitely has her own agenda, which I appreciated.
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Format: Hardcover
The first thing you have to know about V is for Villain is that I loved it.

This book is not just packed with action and the typical superhero/super villain hijinks (even though there is tons of action). Instead the meat of V is for Villain, is about something even more fascinating, the blurred lines between good and evil, and how easy it is to end up on the wrong side, even when trying to do good.

Moore does a fantastic job creating likable characters for readers to root for, and is particularly gifted in showing each of the characters motivations for moving towards the side of "evil". That’s one of the most fascinating aspects of the book, how Moore does such a superb job creating situations that will have the readers second guessing the decisions made and the world's view, until the very last pages.

All in all, this was a great book that I would easily recommend. There was plenty of action, it’s filled with well written and engaging characters, and it moves at a quick and engrossing pace sure to keep readers glued to the pages until the very end. Perfect for fans of a Andrew Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible, Michael Carroll’s Super Human series, and Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
[...]
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Format: Hardcover
3.5 stars
Brad's famous brother, Blake, is a superhero, but Brad doesn't have any awesome powers like strength or flight. Brad's only power is that he's really smart. Someday, he'd like those awesome powers to appear - then he can destroy villains like his father and brother. But Brad's newest friends have different ideas about who the real heroes are. And Brad might not be as under-powered as he thinks.

V is for Villain is a fast-paced superhero novel. It has many tropes of the genre, so that makes it fairly predictable, especially in the beginning when Brad is feeling terrible about himself and his lack of appropriate powers. I enjoyed how V is for Villain delved into how these superheroes came to be. Much like the X-Men, there's quite a lot of talk about genetics, DNA, and computer programs.

However, one thing sets this book apart from others like it: The protagonist is actually a bit of an anti-hero.

Peter Moore does a terrific job of transitioning the reader toward a stance that almost takes pity on the villains, and sees arrogance in the heroes. As Brad begins to ally himself with "the enemy," we're not so sure that's the wrong decision. Moore really embraces fuzzy morals, and that makes V is for Villain quite intriguing.

The thing that brings this book down for me, other than some of the cliche teen elements, is that the world of the book was pretty underdeveloped. Since it was told from inside the elite world of superheroes, a lot of explanation was missing. For instance, it wasn't really clear how the Heroes interact with "Regulars."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If I loved reading about conspiracies that were spun out of the mind of terminal paranoiacs, this might have been a five star read for me. Unfortunately for Peter, I hate most conspiracy theory tales and this one definitely spins way off course in its effort to come up with a number of surprise twists. (most of which didn't surprise me.)

I can't say its a bad book, the story is well-written and many of the scenes are compelling, but the plot itself felt like it had been twisted into a pretzel and then thrown out for the reader to try to unwind.

If you enjoy a twisted and somewhat contrived plot, this will definitely be a book you will enjoy. If you like character development and a plot that works around the characters rather than driving the characters before it, this won't be a book you read more than once
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