Title: Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain
Author: Richard Roberts
Published: February 2014
Penelope Akk wants to be a superhero. She’s got superhero parents. She’s got the ultimate mad science power, filling her life with crazy gadgets even she doesn’t understand. She has two super-powered best friends. In middle school, the line between good and evil looks clear.
In real life, nothing is that clear. All it takes is one hero’s sidekick picking a fight, and Penny and her friends are labeled supervillains. In the process, Penny learns a hard lesson about villainy: She’s good at it.
Criminal masterminds, heroes in power armor, bottles of dragon blood, alien war drones, shapeshifters and ghosts, no matter what the super powered world throws at her, Penny and her friends come out on top. They have to. If she can keep winning, maybe she can clear her name before her mom and dad find out.
Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. Receipt of a review copy does not guarantee a review, or have any bearing on the review if one is posted. I only review books that I recommend, and that are within the scope of the blog.
Click for more details: What the Ratings Mean.
Characterization and badassery
The kids in this book are well-developed, interesting characters. Claire’s mother is, as well. In fact, I’d like to see a little more of her, but it’s not a story about adults. Penny’s parents are clueless, which is confounding, given that her dad is a scientific genius and her mom is known for never missing a detail and analyzing things without fail.
I have a soft spot for maniacal mad scientists, and Penny’s a very enjoyable one. The way she breaks into the crazy laughter amuses me every time. Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain is a super fun take on supervillains and crazy scientists that makes for a good read for adults and a younger audience alike. I might just read this over again with my kids at bedtime.
I wish Penny had a little more agency when it comes to her superpower. Her power just does its thing independent of her and she doesn’t understand what it did afterward. Nonetheless, she walks a good line between the adolescent fun of doing naughty things and having a conscience.
So, short version, I like the characters.
Plot and pacing
I bought the plot. Adolescent girl develops her superpower and is caught between heroics and villainy. Things proceed well. The only slowdowns are the long action sequences. They are very, very long and micro-detailed. I tended to skim them.
Prose and editing
Nicely done. The style is young enough to be believable, but not so juvenile as to be obnoxious and get in the way.
There are some light moments here and there but nothing that made me laugh out loud. Kids might, though.
It’s been a while since I read a book that was simply a delightful story. When I put this one down, I looked forward to getting back to it. Superheroes are a genre that’s been done over and over, but this was a different and fun take, and entertaining for the young and the mature alike.
“You’ve reached Penelope Akk. To speak to the mad scientist, press one. To order an army of robot minions, press two.”
“Great. Now I was showering with both of my greatest inventions. The dividing line between mad scientist and crazy cat lady got thinner.”