The first book to get the spotlight during Supervillain Week is Jeramey Kraatz’s The Cloak Society.
Here’s the synopsis:
The first in a thrilling, action-packed middle grade trilogy, which School Library Journal declared “will likely find the same wide appeal as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.
The Cloak Society: An elite organization of supervillains graced with extraordinary powers. Ten years ago the Cloak Society was defeated by Sterling City’s superheroes, the Rangers of Justice, and vanished without a trace. But the villains have been waiting for the perfect moment to resurface. . . .
Twelve-year-old Alex Knight is a dedicated junior member of Cloak who has spent years mastering his telekinetic superpowers and preparing for the day when Cloak will rise to power again. Cloak is everything he believes in.
But during his debut mission, Alex does the unthinkable: He saves the life of a Junior Ranger of Justice. Even worse . . . she becomes his friend. And the more time he spends with her, the more Alex wonders what, exactly, he’s been fighting for.
I don’t normally read middle grade books but this one was so well written and a lot of fun. It built a great world, showcased cool powers and got readers thinking about what it means to be a superhero and a supervillain. The book sets the stage by teaching us a lesson or two about the supervillain trade.
Most people don’t comprehend the passion needed to be successful in such a thankless field, one that boasts such a low rate of success. It’s not all doomsday devices and dramatic entrances. Your days are spent plotting, strategizing, inventing, training – trying to prove to your city or your nemesis or yourself that you’re not just some delusional screw up who read one too many comic books. Every day you face humiliation, rejection and failure. It’s a life that requires bravery. If you call yourself Captain Terror or Madam Fear, you’d better be able to live up to the name. When you’re backed into a corner, you can’t hesitate to use your death ray.
– Page 1 & 2 of The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz
It’s interesting to see bravery used to describe supervillains when it’s a trait that’s often attributed to superheroes. Throughout, you realize that there very few things that separate heroes from villains and one of the things they both share in the book is the feeling of revenge and avenging those they care about.
How quickly people change when the moment calls for it as commented by one of the villains, Shade, on underestimating the superhero’s “moral stance on never killing”. Shade has an interesting view on the roles of superhero and supervillain that’s echoed by her fellow Cloak members. She places the Society in the role of saviour when she describes superheroes as making the city weak and dependent as well as seeking flattery and praise for their deeds. In a way, Shade is right. Superheroes are great to have but it’s easy to be too reliant on them and easy to drag them into our society’s celebrity culture which is terrifying just thinking about it. Would you want to know what your neighborhood police officer is wearing to the grocery store? No? Then why would we care who your superhero was dating or if they looked too thin?
Kraatz’s book explores perception. Who’s the villain? Are they just misunderstood people? Are they scorned individuals who were backed into a corner and became these bad guys? Are they actually the good guys and the so called superheroes are just feeding the city’s citizens propaganda?To say that there aren’t any supervillains who deserve the title in the book would be misleading but I will say that not everything is as it seems and Kraatz handled that wonderfully.
The book is for ages 8-12 but adults will enjoy it just as much especially if you’re into the superhero/supervillain dynamic. It is a trilogy and its sequel, Villains Rising, is out now.
A. A. Omer