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Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain Paperback – February 15, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Ever since she could remember, Penny Akk has fantasized about following in the footsteps of her superhero parents (The Audit and Brainy Akk). Despite her parents' prediction that it could be years before her powers develop, Penny and her friends Claire and Ray soon find themselves superpowered—and supervillainous. Penny never meant to be a bad guy, but she turns out to be a most excellent mad scientist. Emily Woo Zeller voices Penny's maniacal, mad-scientist laughter; Claire's soft, cooing giggles; and Ray's deeper voice, while also capturing the essence of the "Inscrutable Machine" and a host of other monsters, shape-shifters, and ghosts. Her pacing, intonations, and expressions (one can actually "hear" her smile) are appropriate for the dozens of characters. This book is a creative superhero/villain novel featuring an abundance of characters, superpowers, plots, subplots, and action sequences. A few parts require extra suspension of belief (what teen would refer to a shirt as a "blouse" or exclaim, "By Tesla's Spontaneous Combustion!"?), but listeners may find it refreshing to listen to a squeaky-clean, minimally gory action novel. VERDICT This book will certainly appeal to young teens of all genders looking for an adventure beyond the pages of a comic book.—April Everett, Rowan Public Library, Salisbury, NC --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"Emily Woo Zeller did a fantastic job with this novel. She also had a really good manic laugh for Penny and her mad scientist powers!" ---Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top customer reviews
I'm not going to go over what the story is about, the story blurb does that and lots of other reviews have hit the high points. I'm just saying this is a book every super hero / villain fan should check out. I can't gush about this book enough, and I am going to do a rare thing and re-read it immediately because I enjoyed it so much and I know reading it again will be great. I really wish I were a great artist because this is a book that really deserves loads of great fan art :D
This is a SUPER great read, and I am wanting a sequel very badly. Great story, great characters, descriptions are excellent, you can totally SEE this story in your mind. MORE please!
I would have liked to see the cute Claire get the physical powers and Ray get the cute emotional warping power to further escape stereotypes, but that is a minor quibble.
The more pressing problem with the book is that while I acknowledge the book is written for the YA audience, there are several inconsistencies that will continuously nag at you throughout the book if you are like me. To begin with all three of the main characters tread very close to the Mary Sue line. Ray is variously described at different points as having upper limit human abilities, but that varies wildly during the course of the book, as when he leaps 15 feet straight up from a stand still. He, as a previously unathletic and completely untrained combatant, is regularly able to easily overcome villians/heros who are also physically enhanced, highly trained, with years of experience under their belts.
Penny's power is the most interesting and the most 'believable', with her wacky gadgets that sometimes are effective, sometimes aren't, and often have drawbacks. The exceptions, of course, are her two super inventions, the Machine and Vera, which between them are able to counter any and every attack, seen or unseen, commanded to or not. And it also varies, When Penny is levitated by Marvelous, only her hand with the Machine is unaffected. When Marvelous puts Bad Penny to sleep with magic, the Machine cancels the spell. You would think that either only her hand wouldn't be under the spell, or the entire levitate spell would have ended.
Claire kind of gets left out of the book. She serves in the middle of the story mainly as the narrator explaining who the hero or villain that shows up is, and the remainder of the book as the off scene manager setting up jobs and contacts. She largely does nothing in the action scenes while Ray and Penny do all the fighting.
Personally, I didn't find super powered Ray very likable. He goes from being a quiet nice guy to actually being something of a bully and a cad.
Finally, The Inscrutable Machine mixes it up with some of the best heroes and villains around, and not only do they always win, they get no injury more serious than something that makes them say 'Ow' which feeds into the idea that they find super villainy fun and exciting rather than dangerous and scary.
The book is well worth the Kindle version price, and I've picked up the whole series to continue with. A really enjoyable and well-paced story is somewhat marred with some nagging inconsistencies and Mary Sue-ism.
This is the case with young Penny Akk. Her parents - known to the adoring public and terrified villains as 'The Audit' and 'Brainy Akk' - are famed superheroes, and she wants nothing more than to be a hero like them. This is equal parts wanting to follow in their world-saving footsteps and wanting to get out from under their perpetual shadow, but when she gets her wish it doesn't go nearly how she expects. The sudden awakening of her powers as an incredible technologist able to intuitively build devices that bend the very laws of time and space would have been the best day of her life had it not quickly been followed by a series of unfortunate events that saw her and her two best-friends-slash-henchmen branded as villains instead. Soon the entirety of hero society is searching high and low for the new threat on the block, and the only thing more frightening than this is the delighted welcoming embrace of the villainous comnmunity... and how good that feels.
It is difficult in the extreme for a young adult book to simultaneously present interesting characters and a fascinating plot, let alone one capable of appealing to older people as well, but in 'Supervillain' Richard Roberts has rung the cherries. Not only are Penny and her friends Claire and Ray more complex and realistic personalities than this genre usually plays host to, but even one-appearance background characters are given their own voices and goals in a way that presents a vibrant and weirdly realistic depiction of a city overrun with super-powered criminals and vigilantes - one noteworthy example is the brawny Juggernaut-like supervillain Bull, whose single brief appearance nonetheless leaves you sad for him and wanting to know how it works out.
The only downside are that the book is a little bit long, and in a few brief places seems to drag. Strangely, these are in the action sequences: the characters and their interactions are so interesting that the few scenes of actual toe-to-toe action feel like distractions. Of course, they are also necessary: a superhero story without action would be like a spider without its web, or indeed a supervillain without their henchmen - incomplete.
There is nothing incomplete about "Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain". It starts where it should, ends where it has to, and virtually everything in between is a delight. This will appeal to anyone with a sense of wonder and adventure, but it is especially recommended for girls who think one more pretty pink princess would be about ten too many. Penny Akk forges her own way, and brooks no opposition!
And I for one welcome our new pre-adolescent overlord.
Most recent customer reviews
Richard Roberts has crafted a fine alternate reality, with terrific...Read more
No idea why my roommate, who reads comics and so on, thinks this should have gotten at least a 4 or better; it claims to be for young teens but don't...Read more