The Cloak Society (2012), readers were introduced to two warring leagues of super-powered combatants (good vs evil), and saw how Alex, brought up by the villains of the Cloak Society, chose to throw his lot in with the kids of the Rangers of Justice (after the adult Rangers were defeated and Justice Tower came tumbling down in ruins). Alex was not alone in his defection--a handful of other Cloak kids went with him. Villains Rising (HarperCollins, October 2013, middle grade) tells how this rag-tag cluster of variously gifted teenagers struggle to a. figure out how to save the adult Rangers from the Gloom where they are trapped b. work together as a team, putting aside the years of enmity between the two societies c. stay safe. And this last is perhaps the most difficult, because they are being hunted by members of the Cloak--three individuals whose powers are truly extraordinary.
I enjoyed the premise of this second volume very much--it's very much a kids on their own in difficult circumstances story (a sub-genre I like lots), with tons of added interest from the various superpowers of the characters. They are still figuring out just what they can do, and how best to use their abilities, and this, plus the introduction of two new characters with powers of their own, makes for a nice, detail-rich time. It's pleasantly (for me as reader; much less for the characters themselves) fraught with interpersonal tension as loyalties are questioned, and, even more so, fraught with the crushing weight of fear...the bad guys are almost so powerful that it is hard to imagine them ever being defeated.
For those who prefer the dynamic action side of superhero stories, there is plenty of super-powered mayhem. The plot as a whole is not advanced all that much (the villains of this particular piece are new introductions, so little progress is made in terms of the Big Confrontation), but it is all pleasantly exciting.
And no-one actually gets killed, making it a suitable choice for younger readers not quite ready for the no-holds-barred level of violence in, say, The Hunger Games, who still want a thrill-filled read.
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.