Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: The Villain Virus by Michael Buckley (NERDS Book 4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fast moving story with lots of action and laughs
Cons: Only one character gets developed, plot hole at end
The Bottom Line
Nerdy adventure
Filled full of action and laughs
Great for all readers

NERDS Back in Action Fighting the Villain Virus

You know the reason that kid's books can still be so popular with adults?  The creativity.  Authors can get away with much more in a kid's book they can't with the rigid definitions of the genres for grown ups.  Take the NERDS series.  It's one part comedy, one part spy, and one part science fiction.  The resulting mix is purely delightful, and The Villain Virus, the fourth in the series, is a perfect example of why.

NERDS stands for National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (the acronym is unfortunate).  It is made up of 5 kids who have had their weaknesses enhanced by nanobyte technology and turned into something they can use to fight super villains.  Each book in the series features a different member of the team, and while the stories usually stand on their own, there is a larger arc and a main villain, so it helps to read them in order.

This time around the focus is on Flinch.  His special harness converts his junk food fueled hyperactivity into super speed and strength, but his jitters don't allow his brain to think and plan, so he is surprised when he starts being put in charge of missions.

And there are a lot of them because it seems like every day some new super villain is cropping up with a new plan to take over the world.  But when a member of NERDS does the same thing, they begin to realize that there is a virus on the loose.

Meanwhile, the team has started a new school year at Thomas Knowlton Middle School, and their new principal, Ms. Dove, is watching them like a hawk.  Can they still get away to save the day without getting into trouble?  And will the entire world succumb to the villain virus before a cure is found?

As always, the story starts quickly and never lets up until you get to the end.  I was always reluctant to put the book down when I had to do something else.  There are a couple of sub-plots as well as the main story, and they keep things interesting. I did find a plot hole in the climax, but it is a minor issue overall, and most kids probably won't catch it.

Then there's the humor.  Some of the situations that Flinch and the rest of the gang get into are rather funny.  And their abilities are just as funny.  However, the scenes with the biggest laughs involved a new villain on the scenes.  I looked forward to his chapters the most because they were guaranteed to make me laugh they were just so absurd.

The characters in these books only seem to get any development if they are in the spotlight.  So while the rest of the NERDS team was present, they didn't grow beyond what we already know of them.  Flinch, on the other hand, had a nice arc in the book.  I've always found him the hardest to understand, and I really like him now after having read this book.

In addition to the great writing, there are illustrations by Ethen Beavers.  They're in a slightly comic book style, and really capture the spirit of the book.

This is a series I highly recommend for reluctant readers.  They'll get caught up in the story in no time.  And for those already familiar with the characters, they won't be able to wait to dive into NERDS: The Villain Virus.

If you need to back track, here is the NERDS Series in order.

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