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.

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.

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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