Author: Wesley King
Genre: YA/MG, Superheroes
Publication Date: June 14, 2012 (Putnam/Penguin – North America)
Source: Traded-for Hardcover
Summary: The Vindico are a group of supervillains who have been fighting the League of Heroes for as long as anyone can remember. Realizing they’re not as young as they used to be, they devise a plan to kidnap a group of teenagers to take over for them when they retire—after all, how hard can it be to teach a bunch of angsty teens to be evil?
Held captive in a remote mansion, five teens train with their mentors and receive superpowers beyond their wildest dreams. Struggling to uncover the motives of the Vindico, the teens have to trust each other to plot their escape. But they quickly learn that the differences between good and evil are not as black and white as they seem, and they are left wondering whose side they should be fighting on after all . . .
With fast-paced action, punchy dialogue, and sarcastic humor, this high-stakes adventure from a talented new YA voice pulls you in from the first page.
☆: 3.5/5 stars – a solid debut, but feels more like a MG than a YA book.
Review: Okay, so…I was hoping for something a bit more of a harder YA rating with this book, and so on that note I was a bit disappointed. However, I think that “The Vindico”, with its very accurate description of “X-Men meets Breakfast Club” is going to be great with the mid-to-older MG crowd and is a very solid debut as such. Especially with the superhero genre experiencing a renaissance on a scale not seen since the Silver/Iron Age of Comics, I think that this one is going to be a hit with fans of “The Avengers” and “X-Men”. Its look at the genre is a nice fresh breath of air that I think YA and MG readers alike will enjoy.
It was fun, but generally, I set myself up for disappointment with way-too-high expectations. I need to stop doing that. This book is very simple and clean, and lays out all of its world so that it’s very easy to understand and not get lost in the first five chapters (or so). We have a society with superheroes and villains that guard the populace, and we have kids that go to school and experience a variety of hardships. This sets everything up really well for the Vindico to sweep in, kidnap them, and tempt them to join up with the group. I have to say that I was extremely amused that the superheroes, once they’d heard of the kidnappings, hadn’t tried harder to find our five MCs at the beginning. It’s only at the end of the book that they really started paying attention for the first time, though that gets a good explanation (and I won’t spoil you as to what that is). Kind of a douchey explanation on the part of the League, but a good one nonetheless.
I found that King did a good job using 3rd omniscient (and at times, close) for our five MCs in terms of narration, which is very hard to do and keep track of. I think that’s where a lot of people who have already reviewed the book got lost – you have to stay on your toes when you use 3rd omniscient with more than one or two characters, and I think King did a great job rounding everyone up and pairing them with their supervillain mentors and using the mentors as markers for whenever one of the MCs would appear in a scene. That’s a great way to handle things when you have so many characters scrabbling for hard purchase in such a book, and King nailed it there. While I think we could have done for a little more exposition in terms of why the Vindico and the League have been fighting, and maybe a little more showing of the actual fighting compared to what we did get in the book. The explanation there felt a little too simple, and the members of the Vindico (except for Lana and Rono, who felt like the most realistic of all of the members) felt a little 2D for my liking and wanted a bit more filling in, because I have the feeling that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Vindico at all.
On the plus side, no terribly sappy romance, though I did feel like since we didn’t get a good solid sense of time (beyond the two week training deadline set by Rono in the book), there might have been a bit of insta-romance with the MCs. I won’t mention who, but definitely give it a read to decide for yourself. I think had there been more of a solid tracking of time beyond that deadline and beyond the fuzzy sense of how long it’s been since the kidnappings as an event, I would have been able to enjoy the romance that was there a bit more.
As for the League, I definitely wanted more on them that I felt should have been in this book – origin stories and the like could have been added with simple descriptions, yet they weren’t. I’m not sure if this was conscious or not on King’s part, but either way, he’s got me intrigued with this organization. Who should we believe is the “good guy” in the fight between the League and the Vindico (when listening to the fight/war origin story)? I liked the sense of “trust no one” inserted by both sides to our MCs during the book, and I’m definitely excited about more secrets that will hopefully get exposed in book two.
As for the characters, it was great to see how they all got their individual arcs and how those arcs all tied into the ending, where I think everything really came together and King kind of got into the zone in terms of his writing. When everything starts falling apart, our MCs unite and we really get to see them shine. I loved the ending, and I definitely can’t wait to see what happens next. What I do want for book two, though, is more depth to be added to these characters because while they feel real enough, they could have felt more real with more depth added. But considering the pacing and how long the book is, I’m satisfied with what I got – it was adequate enough to work with to get through the story.
I think that the MG crowd is going to love this book – older YA readers may be a bit disappointed in the lack of depth. However, I’d still recommend you give it a read as the book is terribly fun. “The Vindico” is out now through Penguin in North America, so be sure to check it out for some delicious superhero goodness!