Review: Joshua Dread by Lee Bacon

For Joshua Dread, middle school is proving to be, well, awkward. Not only do bullies pick on him, but do you see those supervillains over there trying to flood the world? The ones that everyone, including his best friend Milton, are rooting for Captain Justice to take down? They’re the Dread Duo, and they just happen to be his parents. As if trying to hide his identity wasn’t hard enough, Joshua has started leaving a trail of exploding pencils and scorched handprints in his wake, and only Sophie, the new girl in town with a mysterious past, seems unsurprised. When a violent attack at the Vile Fair makes it clear someone is abducting supervillains, and that his parents may very well be next, Joshua must enlist both Sophie and Milton’s help to save them. Well-written, fast-paced, and remarkably funny, Joshua Dread is the first in a series that will appeal far beyond its target audience. 

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Joshua Dread just can’t catch a break… he’s not exactly popular at school and to top it off his home life is top secret. After all, his parents are supervillains and are hardly loved by the public. If kids at school knew his parents were the Dread Duo, he’d be even more unpopular. Even his best friend Milton is in the dark about who Joshua really is, but of that starts to change when a new student, Sophie, moves to town.

I love that Joshua Dread has the potential to appeal to a wide variety of audiences. Though it has been marketed as middle grade, and is sure to appeal to boys who love superheros and comics and girls who love adventure, its laugh-0ut-loud humor and clever details are sure to appeal to teens and adults as well. 

Though the actual plot of Joshua Dread may not always be entirely unique or surprising, the details give the novel a fresh feel. I especially loved Joshua’s mother’s experiments. Readers won’t soon forget her tofu-eating zombies and mutant ficus, Micus. 

Overall, Joshua Dread was a fun start to a new series that is sure to gain a quick following. 

Delacorte Books for Young Readers, September 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780375990274, 272 pages.
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