Rating: 5 stars
Readers first learned about the idyllic town of Noble’s Green in Matthew Cody’s first book in this series, “Powerless!” It told the story of Daniel Corrigan, a newcomer to the town. He soon found out that many of the kids he befriended were very different from other kids he had known.
In Noble’s Green, kids have superpowers for some mysterious reason. In that first book, Daniel solved a mystery, and in the second book, “Super,” he solved yet another one. Daniel is destined to solve at least one more important mystery in this, the last of the “Super” books, “Villainous.”
“Villainous” is a fine sequel and ending to the trilogy. New characters are introduced, and the mystery to be solved is as important as any of the previous mysteries that threatened Noble’s Green and its inhabitants. The superpowers of the kids are now public knowledge, and someone has donated money to build a huge modern school just for the superkids. Many of Daniel’s friends will attend school there, but there are also some new kids — popular and mean kids — who are out to cause trouble.
Someone is trying to turn the town against its “super” kids, and that movement is succeeding. Daniel and his “super” friends find that their secret clubhouse is destroyed, and soon the destruction extends to the local ice cream shop and the high school. The kids with powers are being accused of doing horrible things, and the fact is that someone with powers is responsible for the destruction. It’s up to Daniel to figure it all out.
There are many red herrings, but Cody also provides many clues that clever mystery readers will pick up on.
Cody’s writing is perfect for keeping middle grade readers hooked on the action. He doesn’t “talk down” to his readers — he gives them the courtesy of not spelling everything out. For example, throughout the trilogy, Daniel has felt that he is powerless (hence the title of the first book). Yet in this book Cody alludes to the fact that Daniel is not powerless. Cody does not explain that but lets the reader figure it out — or not. The ending is both touching and inspiring. It exemplifies sacrifice and responsibility and would be perfect for a classroom discussion.
This series would be a fine gift for any middle grade mystery or fantasy lover. It combines the best of super-hero stories with enough mystery to challenge the best super-sleuth.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Knopf Books for Young Readers, for review purposes.