The leaders of the world's villainous forces are being picked off one by one in a series of mysterious attacks and Dr Nero is forced to take temporary control of G.L.O.V.E. when Diabolus Darkdoom is seriously injured. He then discovers that Otto, who has now been missing for several months since Dreadnought, is leading the attacks. Under pressure from the remaining members of the ruling council, Nero is left with no choice but to issue a capture or kill order for Otto. Wing learns of the order and persuades Raven to allow him to join her on her mission to retrieve Otto. Other members of the ruling council, suspicious of Nero's relationship with the boy, have initiated their own missions to eliminate Otto. Wing and Raven find themselves in a deadly race against time to track Otto down before the other G.L.O.V.E. assassins get to him. Their pursuit takes them to a secret facility hidden deep within the Amazon rainforest, where they face a mysterious operative even deadlier than Raven. Meanwhile back at H.I.V.E., the school's own automated defence systems turn against the pupils and staff. And there is no one there to stop it.
I want a pint of whatever Mark Walden is drinking! Where other authors struggle to maintain consistently high quality across a series (yes, I'm talking to you Messrs Higson, Hororwitz and Muchamore), Mark Walden has managed to produce yet another superb action adventure story that yet again has this series crying out to be transferred to the big screen.
Rogue is the fifth, and I gather penultimate, instalment in the H.I.V.E. series and again Mr Walden demonstrates that he is not short of original ideas. The first book in the H.I.V.E series was published back in 2006, with the following two books (The Overlord Protocol and Escape Velocity) continuing the story arc to what seemed like a natural conclusion, but left fans clamouring for more. Mr Walden duly delivered by creating a new plot for his characters, with new challenges and enemies, and with Rogue he has set us up for a fantastic series finale, by revealing many answers but leaving enough loose ends to have his readers waiting excitedly for book six, entitled Zero Hour and due out in September.
If you have read any of the H.I.V.E. books to date then you will know exactly what I am talking about, and no doubt will already have a copy of Rogue, which was released on 3rd May. If you have not yet discovered this series then where have you been hiding for the past four years? Find a dictionary, look up the word 'unputdownable', and you will see the statement "see H.I.V.E. series by Mark Walden".
Mark Walden likes his acronyms - H.I.V.E. stands for Higher Institute of Villainous Education, the training section for G.L.O.V.E. (Global League of Villainous Enterprises), and the stories follow the adventures of students Otto Malpense, Wing Fanchu, Laura Brand and Shelby Trinity. Without giving too much away, Otto did not manage to make it back to H.I.V.E. at the conclusion of Dreadnought, and Rogue focuses on his friends' attempts to locate and rescue him from the clutches of H.O.P.E. (yes, another acronym, this time standing for Hostile Operative Prosecution Executive). However, the task is not a simple one; Otto has a very unique talent and it would appear that H.O.P.E. have somehow managed to harness his abilities to target and destroy members of the G.L.O.V.E. ruling council, resulting in a capture or kill order with Otto's name on it.
The H.I.V.E. books are consistently brilliant, perfectly paced stories full of edge-of-your-seat action sequences, sparkling humour and great dialogue and banter. There are more gadgets than you would find in a handful of Bond films, villains with mile-wide evil streaks who will not flinch at killing any of the young students if it suits their dastardly plans, and chase and action scenes equal to many that we see in Hollywood blockbuster movies. I have not yet met a 12 year old boy who didn't love reading one of these books.
Rogue was published by Bloomsbury on 3rd May, and Zero Hour, the final(?) book in the series, is currently scheduled for a 6th September 2010 release. My thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy.