Bonnie's Reviews > Evil Genius

Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
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's review
Apr 28, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult, kid-genius, ya-fantasy-sci-fi
Read in November, 2011

I think the packaging for this series is off, unless they really do want to limit it to young boys. While I think this series will appeal to the grade school/middle school boy cohort, it's range is wider than that. It's like Artemis Fowl in a lot of respects, and older readers have clearly enjoyed that series. I, personally, kept resisting finally reading this and getting it off my TBR stack. I thought this would be a dumb middle grade boys series and I wasn't really interested. Good thing this book turned out so much more clever.

From reading the publisher's description, I thought this book would be about a School for Villains. Kind of a Sky High for bad guys. While the Axis Institute IS a School That's Up To No Good, the school is actually kind of periphery and the other students barely factor into the story, except to show how fracked up the entire place is.

What this is really about is one lonely, insanely clever little boy named Cadel Piggott learning how to not be a bad person, despite his genetics and upbringing. Cadel as a kid exhibits villainous tendencies, although more likely he's just a kid with no moral guidance and no sense that his actions are actually hurting other people. He's strictly opposed to violence and doesn't want any physical harm to come to other people. There seems to be a disconnect in his brain that what he does still hurts others, even if there's not any obvious wounds.

Cadel's father is an imprisoned mad genius villain. Cadel's psychologist is an incredibly dangerous manipulator. Cadel's adoptive parents are cold and uninterested. His only real friend is a math genius he met under an alias on a dating website he had created to make some money and study human interaction. Somehow, despite all this, Cadel shows the makings of a decent human being (though he still has a ways to go on that score).

I love child genius stories, especially slightly amoral child genius stories. Although I see the parallels with Artemis Fowl the most closely, Cadel Piggot has good company in Ender Wiggins (Ender's Game), Danny North (The Lost Gate), Nathaniel (The Amulet of Samarkand) and even, in older YA, Cassel Sharpe (White Cat).

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