Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Genre: Sci-fi / Humor
Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words
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I couldn’t find any information about the author online.
There are villains and heroes in the world but these days they work behind a desk, rather than put themselves at risk on the mean streets. But all that changes when Ashes enters the fray.
There’s the old comment, ‘Never judge a book by its cover.’ I liked the skull design on Villainous. Unfortunately the contents didn’t live up to the image.
This is an odd book. Overall it attempts to be breezy and humorous, but doesn’t quite make it. The story opens in a Hunger Games style with a kid called Evan Skyward who tries to make a difference in the world. But a few pages in the kid is dead and suddenly the author is talking to the reader saying that thankfully Evan isn’t the main character and launches into an explanation of the upcoming story. It’s jarring and frustrating.
Then we move to the Jim Henson school of villainy (yes, you read that correctly) and a potentially main character called Toby (the author himself states there’s no lead protagonist in this story). He’s a student, learning the trade.
In parallel we learn about Ashes, a villain extraordinaire and media darling. He’s taking bad guys back onto the streets, where they belong.
Back to Toby and he, along with his other students, enter a draft programme where, like basketball etc., the best villains get picked up by the biggest corporations such as Google. Toby, despite being one of the better villains, gets passed over. And on it goes. There’s more crime, death rays, reporters trying to get the best byline…
The author probably had great fun writing it (and good luck to him) but it wasn’t a particularly great read. I got quite frustrated with the narrative - it’s silly instead of amusing - messy and largely unstructured. For example, part way through we suddenly learn there’s a school for heroes too, and Toby’s sister goes there. This fact pops up, then disappears.
The writing is generally okay, however occasionally there are clunky sentences, spelling mistakes (Par instead of Part in a title), a name change (Jim Hansen), repeated words and grammatical errors which also mar the reading experience.
Right at the end as Toby is causing havoc Ashes’ hero counterpart, Titan, turns up and the book abruptly ends. I doubt I will pick up the second installment.
Clunky sentences, spelling and grammatical errors, punctuation issues, repeat words and a name change.
Rating: ** Two Stars