Get ready for a set of new superheroes. And super bad guys. “Villain” by Michael Grant has them all.
First there was the “Gone” series that detailed life in the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) which featured the story of children, some with super-powers, and monsters living under a dome. Then came “Monster,” about what happened after “Light,” the last book in the original “Gone” series.
In “Monster,” people who ingested rock from a special cave in the FAYZ became mutants with superpowers. Some became horribly evil creatures (because they were not nice people to start with) and some just gained superpowers. They all became aware of what they termed “Dark Watchers,” creatures they felt when they mutated, watching them in their brains.
In “Villain,” Grant takes some characters from the previous novels and adds new characters in an action-packed, roller-coaster, thrills-and-nightmare ride. You will ache for some of the characters and virulently hate others. There are some characters who are truly worthy of the utmost hate, especially Dillon Poe, an aspiring comedian gone bad. Mutant bad. Grant’s writing is not for the faint of heart. There are gritty scenes where horrible things happen. Children die, others are burned. People are forced to do things they know are wrong, and it’s heartbreaking.
But it’s Michael Grant having fun and creating a world where anything is possible. He’s able to picture and write about the worst of humanity while also including the best. In “Villain,” people kill, but people also sacrifice themselves to save others. On one page, you will reel in disgust and on the next page laugh at the absurdity of a super villain trying to be comedic.
Grant also includes a hugely diverse set of characters. There are teens and adults from different socio-economic groups, diverse skin colors, kids with diverse gender identity, a mutant who is schizophrenic, and one who has an oppositional defiant disorder. It all just adds to the roller-coaster feel. Like the other books in the “Gone” series, this one is filled with a cast of unique characters — some quite likable and some very hateful.
To get the most out of “Monster” and “Villain,” it’s a good idea to read the “Gone” series first. But that will be a pleasure for young adult readers who like sci-fi/horror books. Readers will be excited to see where Grant goes with the plot as there are many story lines to juggle and many characters to develop.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Katherine Tegen Books, the publisher, for review purposes.