Sunday, June 26, 2016

Please don't tell my parents ... again

A while ago - okay, a long while ago - I wrote post about the first two novels about Penelope Akk, “Please don’t tell my parents I’m a supervillain” and “Please don’t tell my parents I blew up the moon.”  Yesterday, I bought and read the third one, “Please don’t tell my parents I’ve got henchmen.”

After successfully - if not willingly - establishing herself as a villain and blowing up a Jupiter moon to save mankind (without mankind actually knowing), Penny Akk could take it more slowly, but she still wants to be a hero. Her first try at that, however, ends in a very strict sentence from her parents: she is not allowed to fight anyone who might challenge her, unless she wants her allowance to be withheld for a week and no computer or phone access for the rest of the day. Little do Barbara and Brian Akk know, of course, that her daughter has thousands of dollars in a secret bank account (villainy does pay, it seems) - which she can’t spend in her civilian life.
Around Penny, a lot of other children of heroes and villains are fed up with pretending to be normal. And the club Penny originally only founded so she and her friends could use the old lab beneath their school as their lair is a way out. Suddenly, it grows and Penny becomes the reluctant club leader. While Penny Akk can’t take part in fights now, Bad Penny and her team have to find a new lair - which happens to be across the street. Things get difficult around Penny, as puberty doesn’t only set in for her, but also for a lot of the other children. But Penny also proves herself a very good leader of the club in times of crisis, may it be to save a few of the group from Mourning Dove or provide guidance during a sudden rise of zombie robots. And all without fighting as Penny Akk, even though Bad Penny has to do some of that.

The third instalment of the series has made me curious again. I didn’t like the second one as much as the first and thought the series might run itself dry, but “Please don’t tell my parents I’ve got henchmen” is a nice sequel to the first two books. Things change, that is a major plot point in the book.
Ray, who started the team on the villainous path when he tried to trash the science fair and who always liked the crimes most, is weaning off them.
Marcia, who always set herself up as the righteous hero, is going for villainy all in a sudden. Or rather, she’s going for fights, testing her new ability to heal from everything to the limits.
Claire wants to turn into a cat-burglar, which would afford her a single career.
Claudia, whose strength and near indestructibility made her a dangerous adversary for the Inscrutable Machine, gets closer to her father again and starts to realize she doesn’t have to save everyone, if she doesn’t want to.
Penny has to deal with a lot of changes throughout the school year, starting the moment she decides to show off her powers when a football player decides to show off his at a game.
The school itself changes as well, when the children with superpowers stop hiding them. Because of the early intervention of Barbara Akk and some colleagues from the hero side, though, the worst excesses get curbed even before they could become a problem.
With Bull, just retired supervillain, overlooking the club meetings and sparring matches, nothing too serious happens. It also affords him time to spend with his daughter Claudia. Yet the students can hone their powers, even those who don’t want to fight (but, in the cases of Jacky and Barbara [not Mrs. Akk], make excellent healers).
The balance in school changes dramatically with Marcia no longer being the popular cheerleader, changing her style completely to fit with her new outlook on life. After all, she puts her own father into hospital during her first rebellious act.
By the end of the year, Penny has changed as much as everyone else, to a certain degree merging the confidence of Bad Penny with the uncertainty of Penny Akk. And she finds a strange offer thrust at her - to become Spider’s apprentice once she turns eighteen.

Again, the book is meant for teenagers and young adults, but it’s a very entertaining read for other people as well … if you love superheroes and supervillains.