Reviews for Villain's Lair

Booklist Reviews 2008 December #1
Thirteen-year-old Dave Sanchez is deep within the dank tunnels of the evil Damien Black s mansion, plotting with his talking gecko, Sticky, before readers even get a chance to react. Damien who? A talking what? Van Draanen establishes an enjoyable crime-fighting duo with the dorky Dave and his motormouthed gecko, both of whom were introduced in the author s Shredderman: Meet the Gecko (2005). In this series starter they re after some of Black s magical Aztec ingots to go with the wristband they ve already stolen from him--a wristband that gives Dave the ability to scale walls, which leads the media to dub him "The Gecko" (which explains the confusing series title). It s never especially clear what s going on in the story, or why; part of that is due to a lack of character and plot development, and part of it relates to Van Draanen s wacky sequencing of events. But younger readers will enjoy the short chapters, constant action, author editorializing, and transliterated Spanish accent of Dave s lizard (or "leeezard," as Sticky would say). Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Booklist Reviews 2009 May #1
In the second The Gecko and Sticky book, Dave and his loyal (though mouthy) gecko, Sticky, witness a bank robbery perpetrated by their diabolical, demented nemesis, Damien Black. Wearing the magical wristband that gives him a choice of invisibility or gecko-like wall-walking powers, Dave pursues Black into his convoluted mansion in an attempt to set things right. Though Dave's sidekick, Sticky, supplies much of the broad humor, the narration itself sets a droll tone that is amplified by the stylized, black-and-white illustrations. The story concludes with a teaser for the duo's next adventure. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
Dave Sanchez and his sticky-fingered, Spanish-speaking gecko pet star in this series featuring a dastardly villain, ruthless treasure hunt, and Aztec ingots that give their wearer superpowers. The madcap plots sometimes slam on the brakes a little too abruptly, but Sticky's groan-inducing wisecracks help get readers through lulls in the action. Cliffhanger endings will stoke demand for the next series installments. [Review covers these Gecko & Sticky titles The Greatest Power and Villain's Lair.] Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 December #2
A wittily offbeat and action-packed adventure. Readers are immediately plunked into the action as Dave and his talking gecko, Sticky, make their way to Damien Black's creepy mansion through a bat-infested, oozing cave. They are after the magical ingots, which, paired with a wristband already in their possession, give the wearer various amazing powers. Black is an old-fashioned villain, with a "Bwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!" sense of devilishness, and things get hairy when Dave and Sticky--a reformed (?) thief formerly in Black's employ--are trapped in Black's Pit of Doom. The two narrowly escape with one ingot, the one that provides wall-walking abilities, with Black and his bumbling cohorts in pursuit--all in the first half. The second half is less of a romp, as the villains look for Dave and mistake another boy for him. By tale's end Sticky and Dave learn to trust each other, and, of course, the power of good prevails over evil. A dastardly good read that benefits from its quirky drawings and may well become a can't-wait-for-the-next-one series. (Fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 April #1
This follow-up to the first Gecko and Sticky (The Villain's Lair, 2009) adventure delivers even more wacky dealings with the devilish evildoer Damien Black and his band of ne'er-do-wells, The Bandito Brothers. This time, Dave, aka the Gecko, and his talking quipster lizard, Sticky, witness Black's theft of an heirloom ring and robbery of the local bank. Dave still has the "wall-walking" and "invisibility" ingots that, when placed in his Aztec wristband, give him their corresponding powers, but it's clear that our brave, young superhero's greatest strengths lie in the benevolent way he uses them. The magic comes in handy as they pursue Black through the rank sewer system to his creepy, booby-trapped mansion. Inside they encounter trouble in the form of a highly caffeinated, espresso-brewing rhesus monkey. It all ends in a crazy face-off when Dave tries to return the loot and Black uses some funky gadgetry to stop him. Written with gleeful wit, rapid-fire pacing and snappy dialogue and accompanied by Gilpin's comical pen-and-ink illustrations, this second volume's conclusion promises a forthcoming, deliciously dastardly installment. (Fiction. 7-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
Van Draanen (the Shredderman books) sets a madcap new series in motion, introducing 13-year-old Dave and Sticky, a talking gecko he rescues from the clutches of a neighbor's cat. The lizard drags the boy to the "maniacal mansion" of a "dastardly demented" scoundrel to retrieve ancient ingots which, when placed into slots on an Aztec wristband, give the wearer superhuman abilities. Though Dave is hoping to snatch coins that bestow invisibility or flying powers, he instead grabs an ingot that enables him to scale walls gecko-style (explaining the possibly confusing title of the series), best the villain and become a hero. Peppered with exaggerated alliteration and the excitable lizard's Spanish-tinged "Stickynese" ("Freaky frijoles!"; "Holy tacarole!"), the wisecracking narrative bounds from one slapstick scenario to another. Gilpen's halftone illustrations add to the good-natured inanity, and a glossary collects Sticky's vocabulary. Dave reappears-and, courtesy of another ingot, disappears-in The Gecko & Sticky: The Greatest Power, due in May. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 June

Gr 3-6--Dave, 13, and a kleptomaniac gecko named Sticky team up to stop an evil treasure hunter, Damien Black. They visit his haunted mansion and battle mariachi bandits and Komodo dragons to retrieve ingots that give the wearer invisibility, flight, and wall-climbing abilities. Good prevails. Fans of Chet Gecko or Geronimo Stilton may like this series, but it could use some polish. The series title seems to refer twice to Sticky, which doesn't make sense, and it is unclear why he speaks Spanish. It is as though the Taco Bell and GEICO mascots merged. Besides characterization issues, the story has continuity problems. Readers are thrown into 100 pages of nonstop action, then have a strange pit stop for exposition, and finally speed up to a rooftop chase scene. Lastly, the style veers toward the campy. However, the repetitious humor is good for emerging chapter-book readers, and the dialogue is funny. Gilpin's drawings are a definite bonus.--Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 April

Gr 3-5--In their second adventure, a spinoff of Van Draanen's popular "Shredderman" series (Knopf), Dave Sanchez ("The Gecko") and Sticky (a gecko) once again face down evil villain Damien Black. Black, recently escaped from prison, robs a bank to finance his latest round of dastardly deeds. Unfortunately for him, Dave and Sticky witness the theft and vow to track him down. With the help of the Aztec powerband that gives Dave the ability to turn invisible, as well as the wall-walking superpower that earned him his nickname, the two pals infiltrate Black's lair, encountering an overcaffeinated monkey, three bumbling baddies, and numerous bizarre gadgets created by Black. After escaping with the cash, Dave and Sticky must get past a nosy neighbor, protective parents, and an attempt by Black to recapture the loot before Dave can return it to its rightful owners. While the action and humor will likely appeal to young readers, the writing is not up to Van Draanen's usual standard. Sticky's linguistic quirks spill over into the narrator's voice, becoming less charming and more distracting by the page. Purchase this early chapter book where enthusiasm for "Shredderman" runs high. Otherwise, stick with Jon Scieszka's "Time Warp Trio" (HarperCollins) to entice reluctant readers.--Misti Tidman, Boyd County Public Library, Ashland, KY

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