V.E.'s Reviews > Evil Genius

Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
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Jan 29, 12

Read in January, 2012

Maybe I don't really want to give this a 5, but maybe I do, especially since I've been in the throes of some horrible YA recently. So, maybe my rating of this book is entirely comparative. But I don't think so.

When I started reading about Cadel, I wasn't sure why the book was so big. I expected it to be childish and maybe Roald Dahl-esque tale about a gifted boy in hands of smart & dumb adults - charming, straightforward, with a 50/50 chance of being memorable. By the time I had spent a whole day doing nothing but reading it, I reached the end liking Catherine Jinks very much.

Cadel was a good character whose struggles I could completely identify with, even though our lives share very few similarities. Nonetheless, I have been in the position of both Cadel with his feelings of superiority and everyone else to whom he felt superior. I could understand the alienation from feeling that people did not simply appreciate my better qualities, and I was able to vicariously exact my revenge through Cadel. Which was perhaps, why I felt like I accompanied Cadel on his journey towards understanding the world better, and questioning his beliefs about good and evil. But I have also been on the "normal"end of things, and could sympathise with those who were repulsed/annoyed/distressed by him.
I was gratified to find him acting and thinking his age sometimes, because those moments stopped him from becoming too unbelievable. The only thing I couldn't shake was that he never seemed to lose that childish voice, even when he was 14 (or maybe I don't remember how I used to think at 14). Sometimes the plot bordered on cartoonish with Darkkon's evil villain motives, and some of the characters' abilities, but it was usually saved by an acknowledgment of the bizarreness of it all, and in Darkkon's case, by Thaddeus Roth.

I'm not a number or computer whiz, so I can't be sure if all the technical stuff was correct, but it did not detract from the story and even seemed to add an air of authenticity, at least to my untrained eye.

Anyhow, I was rooting for Cadel all the way, no matter whose side he was on, or what he was doing. I think this is where Jinks was most successful - making a protagonist that wasn't necessarily good or likable but still applaudable and lovable. I was cheering him one all the way. And I also loved Cadel's emotional journey that broke through the emotional distance that is usually created between a highly intelligent detached character and the reader. And this is why I am very glad that I read this book.

I have developed a healthy skepticism for sequels to books I like, especially with a name like Genius Squad, but this book was one that I am very glad I did not judge by its name and cover. I will try to approach the rest of the trilogy with an open mind and trust Jinks to stay true to her style.
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