Review: Little Miss Evil by Bryce Leung & Kristy Shen
Source: Digital galley courtesy of Spencer Hill Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
Publication date: March 10, 2015
When you live in a volcano, ride to school in a helicopter, and regularly see your dad on the news with the caption “EVIL GENIUS” underneath his picture, it takes a lot to rattle you. Until you get a message that says: We have your father. Deliver the NOVA in 24 hours or we will kill him.
What’s a NOVA you ask? It’s a nuclear bomb capable of turning the city into a radioactive mushroom cloud, and ever since Fiona’s dad built it, it’s caused nothing but grief. But telling him to stop building weapons is like telling Michelangelo to stop painting. And that’s why thirteen-year-old Fiona has a flamethrower strapped to her arm. After all, who’d mess with a girl who can throw fireballs?
If you mixed together Spy Kids, The Incredibles, Despicable Me, Ruby Redfort, added in some insane actions sequences and topped it off with a bit of evil cackling, you might come out with something like Little Miss Evil.
The novel opens with our narrator, Fiona, celebrating her thirteenth birthday with her father. But there are a few things which distinguish Fiona’s birthday from a lot of other teen birthdays: one, Fiona lives inside a heavily guarded volcano; two, she receives a flamethrower as her birthday present; three, her dad is a genius and one of the top three super-villains in the world. (One of the other super-villains is the father of Jai, a devious and flirty classmate; the other is the mother of her classmate and top nemesis Ruby).
Notwithstanding the fact that this is a terribly fun and quick-paced read- with some instances of genuinely hysterical dialogue- I have some issues with the novel as a whole. Namely, there is no establishment of time, setting/place, or back story of characters. I feel like I was just dropped in the midst of an ongoing story- kind of like wandering into an action movie that’s halfway through and feeling confused as you’re missing a chunk of the plot.
Another issue is that pretty much all of the major characters are one-dimensional. True, we’re talking about most all the characters being described as evil villains here, but there was not much effort put into expanding the characters. I will say that toward the end of the novel, we are given some insight into how Fiona’s dad and the other top two villains ended up as evil villains, but it’s pretty simplistic. Fiona, to be fair, is given some dimension as she genuinely wrestles with not wanting to follow in her father’s footsteps- though some of her qualms about not making like a bad guy go away once her father gets kidnapped!
Overall, Little Miss Evil is definitely fun and could appeal to younger readers looking for a fast and zany early chapter book read. There is enough action involving missiles, furious explosions, secret missions and nuclear bomb-dismantling to keep young readers zipping along. However, as I noted, there are multiple issues regarding setting and characters which distracted me from enjoying the story as a whole. Perhaps if there are plans for a sequel or series, that could provide a chance for the authors to delve a bit more into the main characters and provide more back story into Fiona’s world.
I received this book as a digital galley from Spencer Hill Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.