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Joshua Dread

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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.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published September 25, 2012

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About the author

Lee Bacon

19 books203 followers
I grew up in College Station, TX and first began writing in elementary school. I would write stories and poems with the intention of making my classmates laugh. Twenty years later, I used this same technique to write my first kid’s book.

Over the years, I’ve worked a lot of different jobs—farm laborer, art gallery assistant, bartender, assistant literary agent—before settling on the two jobs that I currently hold: Writer and freelance translator. I now live in Brooklyn with my wife and two cats.

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5 stars
679 (37%)
4 stars
601 (33%)
3 stars
383 (21%)
2 stars
88 (4%)
1 star
45 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 163 reviews
Profile Image for stu .
127 reviews390 followers
February 7, 2021
Well, where do I start.
um... This was an interesting book, it was one of my random reads. So I randomly decided to read it.

I liked the book mostly, I just sorta expected more to happen in the book. It wasn't a bad book, but I just wished more had happened. In the beginning it was going really slow and then it suddenly went fast. I liked that it went fast but, I kinda might've liked the slow part better, cause the fast part was very fast and everything went Woosh! Woosh!

The story was nice it had superhero stuff-ish (PS I Love superhero stuff-ish), except the story wasn't about them, so it was a nice plot (MOSTLY)

The ending was Boring!!
It should have more of an epic ending not whatever the ending is right now

Last though(s) (I'm gonna try in 3 Words)
1. Pretty Good
2. Could be Better
3. Good Plot-ish
(I know that's not 3 words)

I do want to do read what happens next since there was a blub or something at the end of this book, which I found very interesting, so.. yeah
Profile Image for Linda.
472 reviews45 followers
February 17, 2016
This book has some potential. The plot is clever, but it is riddled with holes and the dialog is weak and uninteresting. I have two boys that are avid readers, so over the years, I have read a lot of kid’s fiction with them. This book seems “dumbed down” to me. I don’t think that Bacon respects his audience’s intellect.

That is my opinion of the book, but my 12 year old liked it a lot. I would give it one, maybe two stars, but I’ll up it to three to reflect my son’s enthusiasm.
Profile Image for Sara Grochowski.
1,142 reviews567 followers
November 7, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Dru.
1,286 reviews8 followers
April 22, 2013
Good story about the son of two supervillains, who is trying to keep his identity secret while he develops powers of his own. Clever, funny and pretty straight forward. A good read.
April 30, 2014
It was very good because Joshua was brave and kept trying to find his parents that have been teleported by smoke creatures. It was exciting because I needed to know if that was true or not. I couldn't stop reading this book. I can't wait to read the next one
Profile Image for A..
Author 1 book10 followers
April 3, 2013
This would be a really great book for that awkward in between age for boys, when they start to think maybe reading isn't cool.
Profile Image for Liz Friend.
968 reviews79 followers
January 26, 2015
The story: Joshua Dread's parents have super powers, but that doesn't make them superheroes. In fact, they're just the opposite--super villains. Joshua's own super powers are beginning to become obvious--so he recognizes the ability in a new girl at school…only to discover that her father, Captain Justice, is the Dread Duo's archenemy! Just because their parents are enemies--are Joshua and Sophie bound to be enemies as well? And what if the most devilish criminal of all requires the work of BOTH heroes and villains to defeat him?

June Cleaver's ratings: Language PG; Violence PG; sexual content G; nudity G; magic and the occult (do super powers fit here?) PG; GLBT content G; adult themes PG; overall rating PG.

Liz's comments: Here's a funny, action-packed story that both boys and girls will like if they're looking for something with both adventure and a spot-on middle school voice.

Annotation with spoilers: It's happening all over again: Joshua Dread's parents are unleashing yet another evil plot on the world: this time, the Weather Alternator is going to bring typhoons, floods, tsunamis, and every other kind of weather disaster imaginable unless the government agrees to give them a jet plane filled with $100 bills. Just when it looks like they might get away with it, Captain Justice arrives, complete with his array of weapons with corny names, like the Super Umbrella of Virtue. Thwarted, the Dread Duo returns home. Luckily, no one on the school bus has connected Joshua (currently using a different last name) with the pair. Even his best friend Milton doesn't know his (or his parents') true identity.

Weird things have been happening with Joshua lately--like his seemingly causing a pencil to explode, or leaving a butt-shaped burn mark on the carpet. And when the school bullies come around for their beginning-of-the-year harassment session, something hot and powerful sends them reeling into a nearby locker. What is going on?

When he brings it up to his parents, they confess that they've always known he had some kind of super power, but they wanted him to have a normal childhood and so didn't tell him. Now that it's beginning to manifest, they let him know that they think destruction by fireball, or explosions, are his power.

Just as confusing, there's a new girl at school. As he watches her, Joshua realizes that she does many of the same attention-deflecting behaviors that he's perfected--and when she summarily deals with the bullies the next day, he's sure of it. When he brings it up, she admits it (she's sussed him out, too) and goes so far as to tell him that her father is Captain Justice--sworn enemy of the Dread Duo. Now what? Joshua doesn't admit his parents' identities. He needs to think about this.

Joshua's parents take him to the Vile Fair, where super villains from all around go to hobnob and shop. To everyone's horror, smoke monsters appear and cause many of the super villains to disappear. Included in the number vanished is Phineas Vex, the head of VexaCorp, and the creator of the Vile Fair. As the Dreads are escaping the building, Mr. Dread (who has a PhD in engineering) manages to get a sample of the smoke. At home, he is able to identify it as a tiny bot, manufactured by the Z corporation. A swarm of such bots produces an electric charge that looks like lightning, but which seems to transport the zapped person through space, much like a tele porter. Dr. Dread is convinced that if he can get through the super-tough outer layer, he'd be able to decode the chip inside and follow it to its GPS location.

Joshua, Sophie, and Milton have been assigned to work on a Social Studies project together. Sophie invites them to her house, and the star-struck Milton is awed to meet and get an autograph from his hero, Captain Justice. Joshua manages to get lost and overhear a conversation between Captain Justice and someone named Fink, which makes him even more suspicious of the superhero. Sophie's robot butler is taking the kids home when they notice a disturbance at the only factory in town that produces the kind of acid the Dreads need to get through the Z-bots' outside layer. But even as the Dread Duo is trying to steal it, they are swarmed by the smoke monster/Z-bots and disappear. Joshua and his friends complete the mission, get the acid, and get to the GPS device inside the bot. As they do, he has to come clean to both buddies about his parents' identities, and his own budding super power.

Programming the longitude and latitude into their hover scooters, the three kids head for Maine. There, in an abandoned factory, they find all the kidnapped super villains, and at first, it appears that Captain Justice is the one behind it all. But no--turns out, he's been set up. It's Vex, not really kidnapped at all, who has created an elaborate scheme to make it look like Captain Justice is the one who kidnapped all the villains, planning to vanquish them once and for all, but that Vex escaped and turned the tables on the superhero, who was killed. In this way, Vex (although he has no super powers) would become the most famous villain in the world. It's all about the publicity, you see.

Luckily, Joshua employs his super power, and some quick thinking, to literally bring down the house. Milton, Justice, and Sophie help the groggy, villainous kidnap-ees to escape, and Vex is buried beneath a pile of rubble (although one expects he'll still put in an appearance in book 2). The Dreads accept a ride home from Captain Justice, and although it's awkward, it helps everyone appreciate that they possibly have more in common than they might first have thought. (We wouldn't even be surprised if the Dreads go to work for the good guys at some point.)

Wrapping things up, Joshua and his parents save the school from a zombbie--and although it's one of the ones the Dreads were using while trying to break into a building just before they were kidnapped, no one needs to bring that up, right? For once, Joshua can be proud of his parents' having done a good deed. And that's actually pretty cool.

(There are several incursions of evil robots and a number of explosions and close escapes that keep the story exciting for boys, but which are kind of incidental to the plot. If you want to know where all the mechanical creepy-crawlies fit in, you'll have to read it yourself!)
35 reviews
February 26, 2021
I checked this out to see what my grandson (8) was reading so intently in the background during a FaceTime call. It is entertaining and engaging, and just silly enough to keep a child motivated to read.
7 reviews1 follower
February 8, 2017
I would recommend this book to a fourth or third grader because it is about super heroes and super villains and it is not to long. This book is about a boy named Joshua hes parents are supper villains so he has to hide his secret from everyone because having super villain parents doesn't really make you popular.
Profile Image for Leigh Collazo.
649 reviews215 followers
June 22, 2013

More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.

REVIEW: In a word: typical. Upper-elementary and middle school readers--boys especially--will enjoy this book, but for me, it just does not stand out much. It's got the same predictability of the Disney movie Sky High, minus its humor and charm. The characters are pretty stereotypical: the school bullies, the mysterious new girl, the nerdy best friend, the angst-filled protagonist, the busy parents. It's not anything new or spectacular, nor is it terrible rubbish. Kids will like it though, and that's really worth a lot in my book.

One thing I did really find interesting is the blurry line between Joshua Dread's superheroes and super-villains. I especially love how the media in the story picks a black-or-white way to present the "heroes" on the news, and that's who the common citizens rally behind. But the superheroes and super-villains in Joshua Dread are not so easy to define. I love how Captain Justice is not pure good, and the Dread Duo are not pure evil. Rather, their goodness depends on which side of the argument you fall on. This is a great segue a discussion about how perspective is everything and there are two sides to every story. I love that!

THE BOTTOM LINE: It's not the greatest literature out there, but the boys will like it and it will be easy to book talk.


READALIKES: Sidekicks (Ferraiolo); H.I.V.E. The Higher Institute of Villainous Education (Walden)


Overall: 3/5
Creativity: 3/5
Characters: 2/5--stereotypes
Engrossing: 2/5
Writing: 3/5
Appeal to teens: 4/5
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


Language: none
Sexuality: none
Violence: mild; superhero violence
Drugs/Alcohol: none
124 reviews9 followers
December 16, 2014
Oh wow. It's a book probably for twelve years old. I'm a bit older than that (or a lot, but who is counting?). Still, I enjoyed the world a lot! What is wrong with being a supervillain threatening to destroy the world every few months? Or what is wrong to be a superhero and marketing professional? After all, Captain Justice is a good looking, super-powered model/ hero.

Anyway, this book isn't exactly about them. It's about the Joshua, the supervillains son who simply hopes not to get eaten by that new mutant plant of his mother and to survive sixth grade. All this becomes a bit more complicated, when he develops combustion power and the new cute girl in his class his Captain Justice's daugther. Oh, and of course someone is kidnapping the supervillains.

It's a fun novel, that doesn't take itselft too seriously and that gives a rather unique view about the superworld, while showing that villain or hero, bad or good, maybe the differences are smaller than most think.

Recommended? Yes, for everyone of all ages. ^^

EDIT: For reasons, I managed to get the German translation, and please who thought it a good idea to translate Captain Justice with Captain Saubermann? That's like naming him Captain Goodie Two Shoes!
Profile Image for Erica.
1,033 reviews25 followers
May 11, 2017
Wooden dialogue, redundant, obvious descriptions of scenes & action, under-developed/superficial characters, flat battle scenes, and lackluster superpowers drag down a story that would otherwise have broad appeal - What is it like for the children of superheroes and supervillains?

Many young people will be drawn to the basic idea of an ordinary kid who is just trying to keep his parents' supervillain identities in the closet to reduce hassles at school, and then suddenly realizes that he, too, has superpowers. Will they be as disappointed as I was? Will they be as annoyed and frustrated? It's hard to say, since I am not a 9- to 12-year-old reader. However, I am certain that a reader in that age range wouldn't mind a better-written book.

One of the problems with the deadpan humor and use of cliches is that a reader starts to think that there is actually something else going on that will come out later - only it doesn't. Red herrings or lack of clarity and expression? I was annoyed throughout the entire book by the sidelining of side-characters, the confusion about the motivation for actions, and especially the "voice" of the main character.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Eric.
627 reviews27 followers
July 10, 2020
Joshua Dread's parents are supervillains. While they're trying to blow up the world, he's trying his best to navigate sixth grade. Things get complicated when Joshua becomes friends with Sophie, the daughter of Captain Justice. Honestly, I can't think of one thing I'd change about this novel. It's consistently funny, inventive, and the pacing never lags, If you're a 12-year-old boy (like me), you'll love it.

165 reviews
May 8, 2014
• The first of a series.
• Living among regular people are super villains and super heroes, who fight with each other.
• Joshua is the son of a villain family who likes Sophie, the daughter of hero.
• They are both developing their own super powers.
• Together, all of the family members work to eliminate an even more evil character.
• Lots of fun to read with dry humor.
Profile Image for Nate.
480 reviews33 followers
July 18, 2016
My second OBOB book for the 2017 season. This was well written, with excellent plot development and a pitch perfect pace. Sometimes these superhero/supervillian books seemed to be forced into a frenetic pace, but Lee Bacon pulled it all off in a tasteful way that will please both adults and the 3-5 grade set. Highly enjoyed and recommended.
Profile Image for Whisper Poet.
Author 2 books7 followers
February 20, 2013
Hutch guys - this author will be coming to visit on March 4! Thank Mr. Tapia for paying for the visit!

I really enjoyed this book. Asking the lines of the Lightning Thief, lots of humor and adventure. So excited to meet the author!
Profile Image for Lazybee.
512 reviews24 followers
February 12, 2015
This is one of the best light read I've had in a while.
Profile Image for Daniel.
2,363 reviews36 followers
November 7, 2017
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5

I have an ARC of the third book in the series, but I thought I should read at least the first book so that I could get a grip on what the series was about before digging in to that other book. And so I borrowed this book from a local library (I love my library - you should love yours too!).

Joshua Dread is a middle school student, which is awkward enough as it is, but life is a little tougher for Joshua because he has a huge secret that he keeps, even from his best friend, Milton. Joshua's parents are the feared 'Dread Duo' - super-villains who threaten to destroy the world every now and then. Fortunately for Joshua, no one knows the truth about his parents.

While Joshua is on the bus to head home from school, the Dread Duo make a surprise attack, threatening world destruction if they aren't given large sums of money. But their plan is thwarted by Captain Justice.

It's not surprising to them that Captain Justice would ruin their plans, but it IS surprising how quickly he was able to be there.

At school, Joshua finds himself highly attracted to the new girl - Sophie. But if getting the courage to talk to the new girl wasn't bad enough, Joshua is just starting to develop his own super powers - the power of spontaneous combustion.

Sophie discovers his secret (about his powers) and confesses that she, too, has powers, which isn't surprising since her father is Captain Justice. Captain Justice is the Dread Duo's mortal enemy! Can Joshua ever be friends with Sophie?

Joshua is brought to the Vile Fair - a convention for super-villains - but an unusual attack is made, stealing (or killing?) super-villains. Joshua is going to need all the help he can get to stop it - including from his non-powered friend Milton, and the daughter of his sworn enemy.

This book was a lot of fun and author Lee Bacon moves the story along very swiftly. This is perfect fare for the middle school student who wants all the fun and excitement of a Marvel superhero movie, but with characters a little more identifiable (like Harry Potter).

This is definitely recommended for the 10-15 year old adventure seekers!
1,092 reviews8 followers
August 21, 2018
My name is Joshua Dredd, and my mom and dad are supervillains. I knew my body would change once I entered middle school, but I never expected to receive a Gyft, my superpower. My Gyft is spontaneous combustion (I can make things blow up), but I have trouble controlling it. My bigger problem right now is the new girl named Sophie. She has super strength, and her dad is bad news for my family. The Dread Duo, my parents, and other villains have a disturbing dilemma too, as human-like cloud shapes invaded the Vile Fair and disappeared with several master criminals. Nobody knows what the clouds might be or who might have sent them, but they've started popping up all around town. Now, the clouds have gotten my parents, and I need help. I never would have imagined the person who answered my call.

This story was told with a unique point of view, as Joshua loved his unlawful parents. Everyone hated them and cheered for the hero, but Joshua had a different take on what they were doing. Strange as it is to say, it made me have some empathy for characters threatening to destroy the world. The conflict between Joshua's parents and Sophie's dad created a huge complication for the kids. How could they possibly be partners on a school project and become friends when their parents wanted to kill each other? Captain Justice was the world's greatest hero, but he had some issues. It was clear from the beginning that he was overly concerned with his public image and marketing. He posed for pictures, handed out autographs, and promoted his breakfast cereal, beef jerky, and collectible products. This vanity was a major cause of the plot's big problem, as others were ready to exploit it. At first glance, the book appeared to be a silly story with super good guys and bad guys battling it out. However, it became the story of two kids trying to deal with their parents' baggage, and Joshua learning to handle his adolescent changes. Overall, the book was entertaining along with its silly moments, and young middle grade readers with a love for superheroes and comics should enjoy it.
1 review
August 31, 2018
Have you ever imagined you having super villain parents? Life would be so hard because your parents are doing evil crimes,but also has to take care of you. The book i read over this summer is called called Joshua Dread by Lee Bacon. It's about a boy name Joshua Dread who has to always keep a low profile so his parents don't have to move to a different town. His best friend in this book is named Milton who doesn't even know Joshua secret. But lately stuff is happening weirdy, for instance pencils start exploding and snet two bullies flying towards the lockers.but turns out Joshua has a SUPERPOWER. But he doesn't know to use it for evil or for good? I recommend this book to people who love to read about friendship or mystery or fantasy books,plus it also is a series of different books so if you liked the first one there is two more books left. But my rating i would give this would be four out of five rating caused i loved the book but the thing i would love to have Lee Bacon added was more pages so it's more of an interesting book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Rob.
889 reviews3 followers
April 17, 2018
I listened to the audio because it was on a great audiobooks list, and I have nothing but good things to say about the voice actor. I kinda wish the intro reader had read some of it too, but alas.
Having given this book some space, I think it's better than my initial look. I remember what happened (despite losing track in my car seemingly all the time), and I wouldn't be against reading a sequel. Maybe. That said, it's exactly everything an adult reader would expect. Nothing particularly clever happens, nothing outrageously funny. Joshua himself doesn't add anything and his friends are OK but not excellent characters.
Despite my gripes I would still recommend it to the intended age group if they're interested in superheroes or family friendly adventure.

Two great moments though: When joshua realizes who Sofia is and that he's in a pickle, and the final car ride home. 4.5 stars for the car ride.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 13 books39 followers
May 26, 2017
This book had a lot of great twists and turns, humor, and character. I found myself laughing at times and was very charmed. And it was a new take having the main character the son of supervillains. I found the characters to be insightful and real. Joshua's struggles were believable and great how he worked them out. The main superhero, Captain Justice, was a bit of a caricature, which I found a little disappointing (but he was funny with his overblown actions and cluelessness) and Joshua's parents, The Dreaded Duo... not stereotype but felt they could have been more believable about their opinions and actions. Something just seemed flat with them. But, this is still a well written, fun book and a good read.
95 reviews
September 9, 2018
Pre-read for my son

I read this book to see if it would be age appropriate, and reading level appropriate for my 6 year old son. I truly enjoyed the story and I’m sure my son will love it. It is certainly above his reading level (though he reads at a 3rd grade level), but he enjoys listening to audio books, so this is a good candidate for him. I enjoyed how the author treats super heroes and super villains as people. They aren’t all good or all bad. There is room for improvement for everyone, and even the kids in the story aren’t stuck following in their parent’s footsteps. The author also highlights the value of loyalty and friendship through this wonderful adventure story.
Profile Image for Merinereads.
418 reviews1 follower
April 13, 2022
Und wieder einmal eine Reihe erwischt, die nicht weiter übersetzt wurde... yeyyy...
Ich persönlich finde das echt schade, denn ich fand diesen ersten Band vielversprechend.
Die Geschichte bietet nicht nur ein sehr cooles Superhelden vs. Superschurken Szenario, sondern ist auch sehr humorvoll und für Teenager spannend erzählt.
Ein paar Twists hab ich schon vorher erahnt, aber ich bin auch schon etwas älter als die Zielgruppe und mit 12-14 wäre dies sicher eins meiner Lieblingsbücher geworden.
Aber auch so gefiel es mir sehr gut, vor allem die Charaktere und den Konflikt zwischen Joshua und Sophie fand ich sehr gelungen. Aber auch das Ende bot noch die ein oder andere coole und spannende Überraschung, die definitiv Lust auf mehr macht.
Nur leider nicht auf deutsch...
Profile Image for Kenzie Farquhar.
11 reviews
July 11, 2018
I read this when I was 11. Back then, it seemed like a cool, funny, superhero novel. At the age of 14, it still has a cool plot line, but I think this book is for ages 9-11, maybe 12. It is a bit cliche, with the nerdy sidekick and superhero with the whole toy and cereal line. However, the story is told from the Joshua’s perspective, who’s parents are super villains. The biggest plot twist is that the big superhero is actually working with the bad guy. Other than that, the story is okay, and it did have a few cool action sequences.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Hannah Belyea.
1,979 reviews33 followers
November 9, 2018
Joshua is used to being the only child of the Dread Duo, a pair of infamous criminals that always go head to head with Captain Justice - but when they and other villains start to disappear, he'll have to use his own new powers and the help of some trustworthy friends to save the day himself! Bacon begins an entertaining adventure that is quick-paced and hilarious. Can Josh get his phenomenally unexpected powers under control in time?!
Profile Image for Alfeesya.
80 reviews2 followers
December 3, 2018
I love the relationship between Joshua and his parents even though The Dread Duo are villains. What made this story interesting was the part that Joshua bacame friends with Sophia. Everything changed. This was a fun read and enjoyable too, but I think the writing is just too bold and flat plus very simple. I like the story plots and the ideas. The ending was ended quite well and satisfied. I would recommend if you enjoy superhero story. You might want to try this!
Profile Image for Sean Duggan.
134 reviews1 follower
November 8, 2019
Not Shakespeare, but adequate

It was a decent enough read for a kids book. The superhero scenario is very simplified. They can't seem to decide if the villain's are supposed to be a genuine threat or not. The one named hero is vapid and corporatized, but seems to have his heart in the right place. Overall, I enjoyed the read, but not so much that I'm inclined to evangelize it to my friends.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 163 reviews

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