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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-07-09
- Reviewer: Staff
Five teens are kidnapped and trained to be supervillains in King's high-concept but one-dimensional debut novel. The titular group of villains wants a new generation of teens to help them fight the League of Heroes, so they kidnap five generally good kids (James, Lana, Hayden, Emily, and Sam). As the teens endure a rigorous training regimen, they confront their own insecurities, faults, and fears; a romance blooms between two of the captives, and a rivalry is sparked. The flaws in the Vindico's plan soon become apparent as the captives challenge the villains' authority and their new mission, resulting in a hasty conclusion. King's characters are reasonably well-drawn; the book's most compelling elements revolve around the reasons why each teen was selected to become a supervillain and the psychological tactics that the Vindico use to make them emotionally vulnerable and susceptible to coercion. But narrative tension is lessened by scant world-building, lackluster dialogue, and conventional plot elements, resulting in an entertaining but predictable story. Ages 12–up. Agents: Brianne Johnson and Susan Cohen, Writers House. (June)
The next generation of bad guys
The League of Heroes would be out of a job if there were no supervillains for them to vanquish, and the Vindico have played that role for a long time now—too long. With an eye toward retirement, they kidnap five teenagers to train as their replacements. Giving kids the capacity to mind-meld and shift matter: What could possibly go wrong?
Author Wesley King strikes a balance between superhero action and humor in The Vindico. It’s a little like Lish McBride’s horror-humor mashup Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, only the laughs here come from the consequences of giving teenagers superpowers. When flaky ladies’ man Hayden spies a chamber to trap and destroy the Vindico, it’s only natural that he’d neglect to check the “destroy” function until after the archvillains are trapped. Needless to say, chaos ensues.
The five teens fight, form alliances, switch sides, pair up, split up and fight some more, all of which can get confusing. But the yin-yang symbiosis of the good and bad guys is neatly rendered, and each character gets enough backstory to make them distinct. The fight scenes are winners, too, frenetic and fantastical. The Vindico is good (and evil!), action-packed and a very good time.