Hero.com: Rise of the Heroes
Surfing the net during a lightning storm has amazing consequences for a group of teenage friends. Superhero powers are theirs at the click of a mouse! Trouble is, they don't know what the powers will be until they try them out... But super powers carry super responsibilities. When a weather-altering, world-conquering supervillain kidnaps their mum, they have to decide: save her... or save the world!
Villain.net: Council of Evil
School bully Jake Hunter receives a mysterious email inviting him to join a scheme for world domination. With unlimited power and wealth at his fingertips, how can he resist? But to get it he has to become an arch-criminal, entangled in a plan that threatens the planet. And that could just be a step too far...
With so many new books coming out each month I often find it difficult to find the time to read older books that for one reason or another have slipped me by. One such series is the Hero.com/Villain.net series by Andy Briggs, even though I had seen them in shops and bought them for the school library. Looking back I can't explain this, as the premise itself should have been enough to grab my undivided attention. If you also have not yet discovered these then you are in for a treat. The basic concept is that young people discover a way to download various superpowers through the internet, the websites in question being hero.com and villain.net, and as the names imply one is geared towards doing good and the other towards acts of evil and world domination. An original idea on its own, but there is a much more interesting facet to these stories in that the Hero.com books follow the stories of the good characters, and the Villain.net books follow the story of a bully who has gained his powers through the 'other' website. And elements of their stories intertwine.
Looking at what I have written I have to admit that my description just does not do these books and their concept justice. These stories have to be read to be believed and that is exactly what you should do. I share the opinion of many writers that it is the villains that they get the most fun out of creating, and so I started with the first book in the Villain.net series - Council of Evil. there was so much in this book that will appeal to 10+ boy readers - explosive action scenes, superpowers, a fast-paced plot and many moments of dark humour.
As soon as I had finished it I moved straight on to its herioc companion piece - Hero.com: Rise of the Heroes, and it was only then that I was able to truly appreciate the cleverness behind Andy Briggs's storytelling. As I have mentioned already, the two stories intertwine, but at no point had my reading of the first book revealed any of the eventual plot developments in the second book. As I read Rise of the Heroes small pieces of the puzzle fell into place, and young readers will enjoy spotting where the two plots cross over. For example, in one book we have a brief introduction to a particular character but as he is good his back story would not be an appropriate addition to the story; in the companion book we find out more about him, at a time and place when it fits the story perfectly.
There are four books in each series and to get the most out of the books each 'pair' really should be read one straight after the other. I am yet to read these others in the series but I hope to squeeze them in as soon as possible as I can't wait to find out how the stories of the various heroes and villains develops. My thanks go to Andy Briggs for sending me copies of the books.