This is a bit of a maverick addition to the school story genre. It is full of action and techno detail and yet it is set in a Higher Institute of Villainous Education, whose aim is to allow innate wickedness to flourish. As the young hero, Otto, observes, we don’t expect our villains to flourish in children’s stories, so Walden has to do some nifty footwork to ensure that we think good is triumphing over evil at the end.
The Headmaster and his staff abduct gifted, proven villainous children to a top secret atoll facility and there they stay for six years to develop their worst possible potential as preparation for world leadership.
There are echoes of many other classic action adventure and school tales here but it is written with a tightly plotted and pacey style that keep the pages turning compulsively.
The ending hints at sequels – not six, one for each year?!