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Life After Genius

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  427 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Theodore Mead Fegley has always been the smartest person he knows. By age 12, he was in high school, and by 15 he was attending a top-ranking university. And now, at the tender age of 18, he's on the verge of proving the Riemann Hypothesis, a mathematical equation that has mystified academics for almost 150 years. But only days before graduation, Mead suddenly packs his ba ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 29th 2008 by Grand Central Publishing (first published October 11th 2008)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  427 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Dec 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
this is one of the rare occasions when i wish i could call the author and vent my frustration about devoting hours of my life to their craft only to be shoved down a literary trap door. i am flat out annoyed by how ridiculous this story became. ridiculous and lazy and negligent.

when you meet the main character mead, you are at first tempted to not go on his journey because you're sure you've heard it all before. ten year old boy, wildly smart and ostracized by his peers, somewhere-ville small to
Jennifer Defoy
Nov 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
This was a weird one for me. I liked the story, even though it was a bit odd, but I didn't really connect with the main character. But the mystery of why Mead came home was pretty engaging. I just wanted to know why. The story jumps around through different times in Mead's life. It got to be a bit confusing at times, as Mead also seems to be having a bit of a nervous breakdown throughout the story. But the jumping around really adds to the mystery of what happened and if Mead really is starting ...more
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who ever thought being a genius was easy
Mead Fegley is a genious and goes to college at a young age to study mathematics where he has a real aptitude, but his journey to college is waylaid and he rushes home a few days prior to his presentation of an important paper on a noted mathemician's theorem. Jacoby's tale is split into three separate time lines, which are her way of showing how Mead turned out the way he has, what happened in college and why he left. This non sequential story worked for me although I could see how it would not ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mead Fegley is a solitary 15-year-old prodigy who flees his oppressive, well-meaning family for the wilds of a prestigious university in Chicago.

I find the book intriguing and a wonder to read, thought provoking and conversational. With the structure of the suspense with Mead without reason stopping home, despite the fact that what he chooses to do after he returns home was never revealed, Jacoby provides readers with the urge to read page after page to find out what goes on next. For some that
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Myfanwy, Sarah
Totally great, almost surreal story about a boy genius who loses it six days before he is supposed to graduate from college (at age 18). I'm totally fascinated by extraordinary minds and this book really captures the anguish that can go along with being just a little bit different.

It's an adult book, but I think it would appeal to fans of YA as well.
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book this truly was. Oops, time to switch to the non-Yoda dialect.

Anyway, I should say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was very interesting and captivating that I blasted through it in just a couple of days.

So, this is a book that revolves around Theodore Mead Fegley, who is a math genius, genius enough to skip several grades in elementary, middle, and high school, and enters college at 15, and finishing his undergraduate in less than three years. Almost, since the book begins wh
Oct 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What could drive a brilliant young man to leave college eight days before graduation, without his degree, and return to his hometown to work in the family Mortuary business?

Being a genius is a difficult thing. For Theodore Mead Fegley, it has brought him nothing but grief. He started high school at the age of twelve, finished in three years, and started college at the age of fifteen. He has always been younger and smaller than everyone else. And, of course, the victim of taunts, ridicule and pr
Oct 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby is a book that examines one young genius' struggle to find himself and his place in his own family and society.

Theodore Mead Fegley's father runs a furniture store and funeral home with his brother Martin, while his mother's main goal in life is to push her son to achieve as much as possible and not squander his intelligence. The pressure mounts for Mead as he speeds through his elementary and high school years, reaching the University of Chicago at age 15.

Nov 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
I lied a little bit. I haven't actually finished reading this book, but at page 110 I have grown so tired of it that I thought I'd read the reviews here to see how it all plays out. Unfortunately, no spoiler alerts, so I might never learn what the mystery is and if Meade ever gets his young life together. I couldn't help thinking that the author was trying desperately to write Catcher in the Rye for the 21st century. The writing is so self-conscious, contrived and clichéd, and I just hated to se ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I finished this book in a day. Couldn't put it down. Loved every second of it. At least, until I got to the last page, realized it was over and now I'm dealing with emotional trauma dealt at the hands of a book! This was going to be one of my all-time favourite books, but I don't know how to cope with the ending. If the author had tied up more of the loose ends I wouldn't have thought twice about giving it five stars. And maybe that's part of the point of the book; life isn't tidy and things are ...more
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
A predictable, and not especially cleverly written piece.

Sometimes it is hard to write up characters who are smarter than yourself.
Shannon McGee
Aug 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Theodore “Mead” is smart. So smart he has been pushed through school younger than most. His mother overbearing and his father keeps to his funeral business. The only family member that treats him normal is his cousin Percy. Mead starts college away from all his family. Just as he is about to graduate Mead breaks from the pressure of everything, his school, his future, friendships, and mysterious past.

I am not usually into dramatic contemporary books but I did like this one. In some ways, I relat
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
2 1/2 stars.

Mead is a rather arrogant, socially clumsy genius who is about to graduate college at 18. Unfortunately, some bad stuff has gone down and Mead would rather go back home to his small town life than stay at university. This story jumps around in the timeline, telling stories of Mead's distant and recent past interspersed among stories of his present. You'll meet the head of department who ignored Mead at first but obsessed over him later, the professor who kept Mead going in the right
Julie Shelton
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
The characters and story are good. But it just kind of went on a little too long. The nagging question I'm left with is What does being a friend really mean? It makes you think about those relationships that were hard. The ones you let go and the ones you kept. ...more
Briann Templeton
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was a really good book but the ending was horrible. It was rushed and very disappointing. You are lead that you are going to get to know his final decision but it ends with him jumping off a cliff to save someone ,who tried to steal his research, from drowning.
Jessica Roebuck
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m not a big math follower. But I’m left with the feeling “Is Herman just a figment of Meads imagination” Does Mead suffer from mental disease? Every time I thought the story was going to go in a direction I was turned around.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Closer to 2.5 stars, once you factor in the last 50 pages or so.
Stanley J
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful idea, disappointing ending

I liked this book more the further I read, almost until the end. Mead is a great character. The secret that brings him home short of graduating compelled me to read on but I was disappointed when the truth was finally revealed. Although less developed, Mead's relationship with his cousin seemed more significant than his relationship with his college nemesis. I think that was a lost opportunity. I'd recommend this book to a friend but with reservations.
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Oh, Ann. Ann, Ann, Ann. We started off so well - Mead is a great character and you handled his somewhat overdone (super smart kid that starts college early but is still oh-so socially awkward) with surprising dexterity and relatability. Your writing is good and the pace was perfect. And the jumping from before graduation to after graduation with the pivotal event of the book being the convergent point totally worked!

But the last 20 pages? That is were things went off the (pun intended) proverbi
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book is a coming-of-age story about a boy, Mead, who goes off to college at 15 after enduring a childhood of ostracism in a small town and an overbearing mother who demands that he rise above the mediocrity of his father's family, and it is also a story of academic, professional, and personal betrayal, written in a mixed-chronology suspense format, to gradually unveil the characters' backstory and motivations.

The book appears to be the author's first, and I felt it was rather rough around t
Corinne Edwards
Mead is one of those boys - the ones who keep skipping grades because they are so smart, the ones that everything academic comes easily to, the ones who are destined for great things. If only it was that easy for Mead. Growing up the "genius" in his town was a pretty harrowing experience. Combine some worse-than-usual bullying with a kid who has a lot of brains but virtually no social skills and an over-the-top mother and you get: a pretty traumatic childhood. Mead hopes that all this will chang ...more
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
I'm a fan of nonlinear storytelling and I'm a fan of mystery/secrets and their drawn out reveals; combine these elements and I'm sold. But here, things were done in a way that I almost didn't care if I ever learned the details behind this huge upset in Mead's life. One reason why this didn't work for me is likely due to the nuggets of repetition in places where we should have been getting more clues to lead us along. The sort of clues that, no matter how simple, intrigue us and make us eager to ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
To be completely honest I always throw a book in the bathroom. Who knows when you are going to need one in there to stave off boredom, so I keep one at hand. It's always a book that I own because...any alternative seems gross to me. Usually at some point I will pick up the book and then it will become "the book I'm reading" because it will have captured my attention to the point where there is no going back and I have to finish it.

That didn't happen with this book.

It's not that I didn't like it
Laura de Leon
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
As I said in another review, I enjoy books about precocious kids. What's interesting here is that at18, Theodore (or Mead, as he prefers to be called) isn't really a kid anymore. He's transitioning from childhood to adulthood with some big issues to face.

It took me a little while to get into Life After Genius. I found Mead hard to get to know, and for the first few chapters, the skipping around in time got in my way.

About 1/3 of the way in, the book clicked for me, and I wanted to get to know Me
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the best novel I read in 2011, and maybe a few years before and maybe after. I couldn't put it down and I didn't want to. I read most of the reviews, and agreed with some, and was completely confounded by the person who didn't like it because he didn't agree with the, this is a novel not a text book.

What I liked best: The characters and their fully realized development and presentation. Theodore Mead Fegley, his consistently annoying mother, his father, Aunt Pearl, Herman Wein
Sep 15, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is very different from other things I've read lately. Part academic thriller and part coming-of-age story, this novel explores the world of an 18-year old math genius at the cusp of graduating from college when he shows up at home 6 days before graduation and he won't say why.

Mead Fegley has grown up in a small midwestern town, the son of a furniture store owner/undertaker. His whole life he has been picked on, singled out, and alone. His thinks his luck will change when he enrolls at
Lauren (Shooting Stars Mag) Becker
Teddy is a genius. He graduated high school early and would have graduated college at the age of 18. That's right...he would have. Instead, Teddy (now known as Mead) is back home and refusing to reveal why. With his mom trying her hardest to get answers out of him, his father believing he shouldn't work at the furniture/funeral home with him, and his uncle putting Mead down any chance he can get....what will happen on this journey home?

I've read a lot of people's thoughts on this novel and many
Oct 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I finished Life After Genius this afternoon while waiting for the freshman football game to start. Thank goodness for mandatory time spent sitting in the car, it allows me reading time!!

I think we've all known some people that are just a bit..well...different. In fact, I think that there is a little bit of Mead in all of us. We all feel like we're just a little peculiar sometimes. It's been very easy to empathize with Mead, and as the book drew to the conclusion, I found a deeper understanding o
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued with the synopsis of this book. A book about a mathematical genius. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that I knew what was being talked about most of the time. Means I didn't spend all that money on a degree in mathematics for nothing.

At first, the book was a little awkward to read. I found myself relating a lot with the main character, Mead, in that his mom is a bit overbearing. Though my mom isn't as overbearing as his mom is, I did see some similarities. And I have a hard
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