H.I.V.E. Dreadnought is an out-and-out schoolboys’ adventure story, though some girls may like it too. The fourth book in the H.I.V.E. (it is the acronym for Higher Institute of Villainous Education) series is even more exciting than its predecessors.
Robert Muchamore (of the Cherub series) and Anthony Horowitz (of the Alex Rider and Power of Five series) beware. There is competition here.
H.I.V.E. is an institute that trains young law-breakers such as pickpockets, chain snatchers and other thieves for more “illustrious” things. What qualifies someone to be a student is the degree of craftiness and valour that the would-be signee displays.
H.I.V.E., the institute, is hidden on a tropical volcanic island that is more or less inaccessible. The academy members are trained for daring jobs. This time, it is the turn of Otto Malpense, Wing Fanchu and their friends to wing off to the Arctic for a session—led by their headmaster, Dr Nero, and his henchwoman, Raven, who is the ruthless monitor of the class.
The schedule goes awry when the team takes a detour to visit the G.L.O.V.E. (Global League of Villainous Enterprises), the parent organization of H.I.V.E. The G.L.O.V.E. is run by Diabolus Darkdoom, who overthrew the agency’s former leader, No. 1, and usurped his position.
H.I.V.E. Dreadnought: By Mark Walden, Penguin, 298 pages, Rs499.
Diabolus runs his worldwide organization quite efficiently except for the fact that he has an enemy, the man who thought he was the one destined to head the G.L.O.V.E. His name is Jason Drake and he is the head of Drake Industries—a technological powerhouse with tentacles across the world.
Diabolus and his villainous band have barricaded themselves in the fortress that is Dreadnought, a spaceship-like city located 32,000ft above earth. Access to this citadel is almost impossible. Or so Diabolus and his men think. When the Arctic-bound H.I.V.E. team lands in Dreadnought, Drake strikes. Helped by the fact that he was one of the designers of the Dreadnought, Drake kidnaps Diabolus.
What follows is a deadly hide-and-seek game with Dr Nero, Otto, Wing, Raven and the H.I.V.E. team and Drake, who has his own designs on America—and the world. Nero and his team of students are equally determined that they will save Diabolus and eliminate Drake. But Drake holds all the aces, including the president of the US.
Despite a fondness for acronyms, Walden is a powerful narrator as he builds up the plot that leads to a thunderous climax. Dreadnought follows H.I.V.E., The Overlord Protocol and Escape Velocity as an explosive fourth offering in the series. For a change, the reader will be rooting for the villains. I did.
The writer is the editor of Heek, a children’s magazine.
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