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H.I.V.E., which stands for the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, is a Villain Protagonist series by Mark Walden about, as the title suggests, a school for villains. It currently has eight released books (plus a short World Book Day story) but, due to No Export for You, only the first six have been released in America yet. According to the author, this will soon be remedied. The author, Mark Walden, seems to enjoy his fanbase, and has a blog, a small forum, and a separate email account for fans. Online, there is little evidence to show the books' popularity, but H.I.V.E.'s forum is bursting with enthusiastic members.The four main characters of H.I.V.E. are Otto, the main character; Wing, Otto's Chinese best friend; Laura, the Scottish computer hacker; and Shelby, the American lock-picking genius, with the addition of Lucy, the mind-controlling granddaughter of the Contessa in Dreadnought. In the secondary character section, we have Nigel, son of Diabolus Darkdoom, Number One's replacement when he goes all crazy and dies, who is very, um..."good" with plant life; and Franz, the German son of an owner of a chocolate factory. There has been very little said about any of Franz's abilities, though it is mentioned that he is able to make money "disappear" so well even the teachers can't figure out what he did with it and as of Aftershock and Deadlock, he's also pretty good with a gun. Later on, after the death of Lucy, Tom and Penny, Otto's old accomplices from the orphanage, join the group. Then, in Deadlock, Tom dies, leaving Penny distanced from the group.In the later books, the characters Nero, headmaster of H.I.V.E.; and his assistant Raven, Nero's Russian "bodyguard"; along with a couple of other teachers, are added closer to the list of main characters. The moves of the...enemies of the main characters are usually described in great detail in the later books as well.
The books currently released are:
H.I.V.E.: Otto Malpense is kidnapped and taken to a school for villains. Here he meets three other new students and together they make an escape attempt. It doesn't work. The headmaster, Dr Nero, knew what they were up to the whole time. They're just about to be punished for it when something large, green and carnivorous interrupts. And it's not the Hulk.
The Overlord Protocol: Otto and Wing are let out of the school for a short time, and Wing gets kidnapped and supposedly killed by a rogue member of the GLOVE ruling council. Otto and Raven then embark on a quest to find the bad guys' hideout and make righteous awesomeness ensue.
Escape Velocity: Recovering from the shock of the last book, Otto has been practicing his newfound ability to talk to machines and computers. Meanwhile, Nero meets with an old villainous friend and soon finds out that Number One is plotting to reform Overlord, a homicidal AI, and Nero gets himself kidnapped. Naturally, our four man team has to go and, oddly enough, save the day.
Interception Point (World Book Day book): Released March 2009. The four are sent on a mission to get back an important piece of GLOVE technology, which is being transported on an automated train. Things go terribly wrong, as per usual. Anyone who hates spiders would relate.
Dreadnought: Released September 2009. At the very beginning of this book, we get a small peek into Raven's past, and then all hell breaks loose. The main characters take Lucy, a newbie who has been put into their year, under their wing. They are about to go on a school expedition to the Arctic circle, but, naturally, they meet trouble on the way, as they visit Nigel's father, now the leader of G.L.O.V.E.'s new "ship", Dreadnought. Darkdoom Sr. gets captured by a rogue G.L.O.V.E. member, and chaos ensues.
Rogue: Released May 2010. Otto has been brainwashed and turned into an assassin for the other side. Computer glitches at H.I.V.E. signal the return of H.I.V.E.MIND, but he warns that Overlord has also survived inside Otto's head.
Zero Hour: Released September 2010. Overlord uses the Animus fluid to take over a US military facility and H.I.V.E. itself in an attempt to capture Otto. Also, some of the main characters begin dating.
Aftershock: Released June 2011. A new intake of students arrive at H.I.V.E. and two join the group in an attempt to steal this year's exam papers. However, the first exam—a survival exercise—is interrupted by the Disciples attempting to massacre the Alpha stream.
Deadlock: Released June 2013. Raven and Otto attempt to bring down the Disciples and find the Glasshouse, where the H.I.V.E. students captured in the last book have been taken to undergo Training from Hell. A rescue attempt follows.
Anyone Can Die: Let's count 'em. Escape Velocity: the Contessa. Rogue: Trent. Zero Hour: Chief Lewis and Lucy. Aftershock: just about the whole Alpha stream, sans main characters. Deadlock: Tom and Otto's clone, Zero.
Awesomeness by Analysis: Otto can read entire textbooks and solve problems that would take the most skilled mathematicians weeks in the time it takes you to be amazed by this fact. It helps that he has a computer in his head.
Bittersweet Ending: The series is full of them in one form or another. Two of the most notable take place in Dreadnought ( Otto ends up captured by Trent) and Zero Hour (G.L.O.V.E. is disbanded and Lucy's dead and buried beneath 200 tons of nuclear slag).
Aftershock continues the trend. The majority of this year's Alpha stream is killed or captured and taken to a hellish Disciple training camp. Among the captured are Nigel, who was recently shot, and Laura, who betrayed H.I.V.E. to save her family's lives. Otto takes the fall for helping Laura steal information from H.I.V.E. and is expelled, leaving Wing, Shelby, and Franz the only Alpha stream students remaining in the year.
Broken Faceplate: Played with; while Ghost wears one, and it does get shattered (by Nero with a flare gun no less) it happens a long time before her actual death. Also, Cypher wears one in Overlord Protocol, which is broken towards the end of the book, revealing that Cypher is really Wing's father, Mao Fanchu, and one of the men Nero worked with in creating Overlord. However, Cypher doesn't die until Rogue.
Cerebus Syndrome: The first book, while hinting at the greater overriding arc, was basically about the kids trying to escape the school, and was fairly lighthearted. The second book was notably darker, with higher stakes. And from there...well, check out Bittersweet Ending above. Although the books have kept the humor, for the most part, until the end of Aftershock.
Deadlock reverses the trend. The ending is a lot lighter than previous books. The bad guys all die, the good guys get their friends back (or at least most of them) and Otto and Laura finally start properly dating.
Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The jumpsuits of the different streams. Black is worn by the Alpha stream (the leaders), blue is given to the Henchman stream, white indicates the Technical stream, and gray jumpsuits are for the Political/Financial stream.
Compelling Voice: The Contessa has this but there are some drawbacks. The longer she uses it, the more the Contessa becomes physically and mentally exhausted. In Dreadnought, it's revealed to be a generational gift—her granddaughter, Lucy, has it too.
Continuity Nod: In Rogue, Otto says something unheard to Laura. This becomes a major plot point in Aftershock. Also, Aftershock sees the return of Tom and Penny, two minor characters from the very first book.
Cool Airship: The Dreadnought. An airship that's self-defense is to make a huge storm? Yeah.
Cool Boat: You wouldn't want to meet the Megalodon alone in a dark bathtub...
Deadpan Snarker: Raven, Otto, Nero... to be honest, anyone with a sense of humour becomes one at some point.
Deus Exit Machina: Only very briefly in most cases, but Wing will sometimes be knocked unconscious or, in the case of the whole of Book Two, entirely removed from the action to stop his badassery from just winning everything for them.
Even Evil Has Standards: The only way we know who the "good guys" are—for example, Dr. Nero disproves of Cypher's plans because there is unnecessary violence.
Evil Inc.: GLOVE, the Global League Of Villainous Enterprises.
Evil Overlord List: To be expected, seeing as the premise of the series is supervillains. Rules obeyed include 20, 27, 32, 33, 45, 56, 57, 58, and 65. Rules broken at any point in the series include 1, 2 (lampshaded by Otto), 6, 9, 10, 13, 15, 17 (Number One, I'm looking at you), 18 again, I'm looking at you Number One, 23, 36, 46, 52, 59, 67, 73, 78, 84, and 96.
Evil Versus Evil: The main characters constantly go after the villain, while they prefer to be the behind-the-scenes Chessmaster.
Evil Versus Oblivion: The cut and thrust of the series is that GLOVE may be evil, but they're not "destroy Earth and everyone on it" evil. Like the bad guys are.
Fun with Acronyms: G.L.O.V.E., the Global League Of Villainous Enterprises, and, of course, H.I.V.E., the Higher Institute of Villainous Education. This can bring Fridge Logic when you consider that G.L.O.V.E. makes use of its "of", while H.I.V.E. does not. Just to make it a word, I suppose. H.O.P.E. is another organization. They explicitly picked their name to spell this word.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Raven has one running over her left cheek. Pietor Furan, apparently, has them everywhere. So does his sister.
Hell-Bent for Leather: Raven, and, technically, Verity and Constance, but they're more Knight Templar than anything else. That and the fact that they are just far less awesome in comparison to Natalya.
Killed Off for Real: While a Not Quite Dead might have been the norm in earlier book, given how dark the series has been getting of late, it looks like Lucy is staying buried. (Mind you, given that many of the fans are of the opinion that the First Law of Resurrection is considerably helped along by emailing the author a picture of a pointy stick, it may not be long be they start digging.)
Russian Girl Suffers Most: Raven: Shot in the thigh, dropped off the Millennium Wheel into the Thames (and probably half-drowned in the process), knocked unconscious with an electric floor mop, foot-long spike through her shoulder, shot at again, kicked, beaten and generally abused by a military psycho...
To be honest, the series started on the whole premise of taking villain stereotypes and exploring them further, so, consequently, the books are littered with (usually subtle) nods to the villains of real world fiction.
Sink-or-Swim Mentor: While Nero generally tries to keep students out of the real danger, he seems to have no problem with sending newly-arrived students who are joining the upper years on the same dangerous survival exercises as their well-trained classmates.
Sixth Ranger: Lucy arrives in Dreadnought. After her death in Zero Hour, Aftershocksees the arrival of Tom and Penny. After Deadlock, it's just Penny, and she's not too happy with the rest of the group.
World of Snark: Especially evident in the scene where the students are all riding together in a stolen car in Zero Hour. Everyone makes fun of everyone until everyone starts bragging about who is funnier than everyone else...and that's just the first two pages.