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I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President

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Family Guy meets Election in this hilarious young adult debut! Twelve-year-old Oliver Watson’s got the IQ of a grilled cheese sandwich. Or so everyone in Omaha thinks. In reality, Oliver’s a mad evil genius on his way to world domination, and he’s used his great brain to make himself the third-richest person on earth! Then Oliver’s father—and archnemesis—makes a crack about the upcoming middle school election, and Oliver takes it as a personal challenge. He’ll run, and he’ll win! Turns out, though, that overthrowing foreign dictators is actually way easier than getting kids to like you. . . Can this evil genius win the class presidency and keep his true identity a secret, all in time to impress his dad?

303 pages, Hardcover

First published October 13, 2009

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About the author

Josh Lieb

7 books40 followers
Josh Lieb is an Emmy-winning Executive Producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and has worked on such shows as The Simpsons and NewsRadio.

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President is his first novel. He lives in New York with his wife and family.

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5 stars
1,029 (23%)
4 stars
1,522 (34%)
3 stars
1,216 (27%)
2 stars
444 (10%)
1 star
176 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 987 reviews
Profile Image for Mike Mullin.
Author 14 books1,652 followers
January 31, 2012
Let's fix Jon Stewart's cover blurb. Here's what he said, "If War and Peace had a baby with The Breakfast Club and then left the baby to be raised by wolves, this book would be the result." Here's what he should have said, "If Artemis Fowl had a baby with Diary of a Wimpy Kid and then left the baby to be raised by the Dursleys, this book would be the result."

Five stars of funny. One of my favorite bits: when Oliver defines Machiavelli as "An Italian who wrote an early self-help book."
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,603 reviews638 followers
November 27, 2018
When you read this book, because yes you should read this book, make sure you do the audio version.
Marc Thompson is amazing!!! His voice mutations are so impressive it seems like multiple people narrated this book. I found this especially helpful in differentiating between "normal" Oliver and internal monologue Oliver

"I am a child and I am not ashamed to be one. Time will cure this unfortunate condition."

Oliver is such a funny, vengeful little weirdo. I of course adored him!!!

"It's simply the most adorable thing ever. My mother has joined a gang."

I think everyone would enjoy this, so go listen to it!!!
I only gave it four since I wanted a different ending.

Profile Image for Monica Edinger.
Author 6 books338 followers
October 4, 2009
Not sure quite how to rate this one so I won't. I thought most of it was hilarious, inventive, and fun to read, but I was confused by the ending and what young readers are suppose to come away with. Is it pure fun or is there a moral within all that dark irony?

At first I thought it would be most appreciated by younger adults, Daily Show fans, who would remember well the horrors of middle school and get a kick out of how Oliver manages to pass by and over them. It is completely over the top and very,very funny. I figured that the Raymond Carver reference, and the irritated stuff about public television fund raisers might mean more to those who knew and had experienced them.

But as I read on I did think kids would get it and enjoy it too. Anyone who has ever been bullied or experienced anything even minor of the sorts of stuff Lieb accurately described about middle school is bound to eat this book up. That the class loser, be it what you think you are (or were) or one you knew (there has to be on Oliver sometime in everyone's life) is secretly an evil genius who does have world domination is something everyone can get. And Lieb presents Oliver's life and world absolutely brilliantly --- everyone's dream realized from invisible bodyguards to take care of every slight in school, world domination (cause a coup to get a toy to bribe a school official), and so forth. This part of the book --- Oliver's secret world is mostly total wish-fulfillment and terrific! All those wonderful Rube Goldbergish secret things and places. I think my favorite may be the water fountain with the two secret buttons disguised as discarded gum that provide chocolate milk or root beer or both although the cigarette messages are pretty fun too while being on the adult side again, how to pronounce Nabokov, Gravity's Rainbow, etc.

Where it didn't quite work as well for me was the underlying theme about Oliver wanting "daddy's" approval; I mean, he is so scathing about "daddy" that the reunion at the end rang false for me. The man seems like a complete idiot (as, of course, channeled through Oliver) that seeing him at the end as decent (again through Oliver) didn't fly for me, just puzzled me. Maybe I didn't get it, but it seemed to be sincere and with all the rest being so over-the-top ironic and mean, this seemed off to me. I guess it is just more irony of the opposite sort, but I just didn't quite get those last few pages, I must admit.

I also wasn't sure about Oliver's feelings, behaviors, and relationships, with the other kids and even teachers. At first he clearly hated them all and that was fine and worked in a two-d comic book sense, but that ending --- again, very confusing to me. Was Randy okay in his eyes by the end or not? What about Verna? Titania? That teacher with the cigarettes? Much of the humor was of the "Arrested Development" sort and very funny, but the nicer side of things that seems to also be in this book didn't fly for me. It fell pretty flat (or maybe it didn't exist and I just got taken by Oliver at the end for it.) I guess, because Oliver is truly mean for most of the book about everyone, dorks, good teachers, bad teachers, mother, father, everyone. The evident change at the end didn't seem believable to me.

All that said, I do recommend it because it is unique, has some hysterically funny bits, and is a highly entertaining read.

Profile Image for Ana.
2,352 reviews325 followers
September 20, 2016
An evil mastermind with daddy issues plans to become class president and I swear I've not read anything so hilarious, heartwarming and politically conscious ever before.

Ollie is such a memorable and intriguing kid that I wish this book had a sequel so we can see the teen and/or adult versions o this character. He reminds me of a young Gru from Despicable Me.

I warmly recommend giving this to kids since the scheming, manipulating diabolical parts of this book and the crazy characters will keep his/her attention, while the author slips in some very important information about the democratic process.
Profile Image for Sean-Wyn.
62 reviews23 followers
December 3, 2019
Can't believe more people don't know about this book! It's hilarious and has a main character with a secret life that every kid wishes they could have. The ending was a bit contrived though.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,231 reviews115 followers
July 23, 2012
Twelve-year-old Oliver Wilson isn't the most popular kid in school, but he is the most powerful. Turns out that while he pretends to have the IQ of a grilled-cheese sandwich (his favorite sandwich), he's actually an evil genius with a vast empire that can control just about every aspect of his daily life. He's got special devices in the water fountains to he'll get chocolate shakes when he pushes a certain button, he's got a vast evil empire that can make all of his day to day problems seemingly vanish and he's got an attack dog that responds only to his commands in an obscure language.

But all great evil geniuses must have a nemesis--and for Oliver, it's his father. Oliver looks down on his father, seeing him as unworthy to have a son such as Oliver. But yet Oliver still seeks his approval. So when Oliver is nominated to be class president, an office his father won and held at a young age, Oliver sees his chance to win parental approval. After quickly removing his two opponents, Oliver believes he has clear sailing to the office and paternal approval.

I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil And I Want To Be Your Class President caught my attention simply because of the title. Of course, cover blurbs by Judd Apatow didn't exactly hurt the interest either nor did the fact that the early goings of this novel are very funny, clever and amusing. The various ways in which Oliver uses his evil powers to manipulate those around him is funny and steeped in geek references galore. When Oliver first declines the class president nomination, he's forced to bribe his way back in using a rocket-shooting Boba-Fett figure as a bribe. Since only six exist in the world and none of the collectors are willing to sell, Oliver must go to extreme lengths to get one and get back into the race.

Oliver's narration, asides and illustrative photographs throughout the novel are a lot of fun. However, like an SNL skit, the concept is stretched a bit too far and it ends up being less compelling, funny and entertaining as the novel comes down the home stretch. The one thread that rescues the final third of the novel is once his mother becomes his campaign manager and finds she has more in common with junior high girls than she does her adult contemporaries.
Profile Image for Iulia.
203 reviews93 followers
June 12, 2018
Popsugar Reading Challenge 2018 - A book about a villain or antihero (6/40)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's like politics meets Dexter's Laboratory. Ollie is simply hilarious and the other characters are entertaining caricatures of their respective human archetypes. Would have loved to read it as a kid, but it works pretty well now too.
Profile Image for Moza M.S.T.
4 reviews14 followers
July 12, 2011
My sister has been begging me to read this book. Every few minutes she told me that she felt sorry for me because I've deprived myself from reading the amazingness that is I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President. And she was right. so right. I've been deprived, actually deprived of the comedy, deprived of the hidden depth hidden in each character. I actually regret not tearing this book out of her hands the moment she offered it to me.

Oliver, is without a doubt, a genius. I profiled him as a narcissistic sociopath two chapters into the book. I thought every chapter would have him belittling others, and controlling them through unbelievable ways. In a way, i was kind of right. As well as completely wrong. Oliver was not what I thought he'd turn out to be. In the 303 pages of this book, i fell in love with the character. I loved that he was the farthest thing from a typical character. I loved that he had to be figured out, and not read so easily. I adored the fact that whenever you realize something new about him, that he may not have wanted to let slip, you get excited and start fidgeting in your seat. Anxious to find more.

I adored this book, and i can tell you the first thing i did was check if there was anymore. Sadly, there is not more. But if there was more i would buy it. Maybe even buy two copies of it, so that i wouldn't have to fight my siblings over who would get to read it first.
Profile Image for Abby.
601 reviews84 followers
February 19, 2010
Okay, this book gets an extra star just for its awesome title alone. It earned those other 3 stars by making me laugh harder while reading than I've done in a very long time.

By all appearances, Oliver Watson is just another dimwitted, overweight middle-school loser. But in fact, he is an evil genius who happens to be the 3rd richest man alive, has an army of minions to do his bidding, and has remodeled the school to suit his needs (i.e., an out of order toliet stall is actually a hidden movie theater with a tp roll that dispenses hot buttered popcorn). Despite his power and riches, Oliver is not content. He wants to be president of the eighth-grade class. But as it turns out, the road to popular election is not the cakewalk it appears to be. . .

So the Captain Beefheart references may fly over the heads of most teens, but otherwise I think all current and former 8th-grade nothings will totally love this book, the ultimate revenge fantasy for anyone who has ever done time at the bottom of the middle-school social ladder. I'll definitely be booktalking this one on my next middle school visit.
Profile Image for Andrew Hicks.
94 reviews43 followers
March 30, 2015
I'm pretty sure I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil And I Want To Be Your Class President has the most words in the title of any novel I've read. Look at what a clunky acronym it makes: IAAGOUEAIWTBYCP . From now on, it's just gonna be GOUE , for Genius of Unspeakable Evil .

This is one of three books I've read by "Daily Show" alums. (The others are Sons of the 613 and Neil Patrick Harris's Choose Your Own Autobiography , co-authored by David Javerbaum.) All three are worth reading, but GOUE , more so than the other two, bears the mark of, "Here is me, trying to be funny. Isn't this silly? Isn't this clever? You laugh now, and you laugh again next sentence, and the sentence after that."

And, yeah, a lot of it is funny - the footnotes, especially. But, given that GOUE is structured and executed as a satire directed toward middle-grade readers, the absurdity of plot, character and dialogue is pushed to an extreme that shatters believability. GOUE is well-constructed, yes - I completely appreciated it on a cerebral level - but I never actually felt like I got to know or care about anybody.

The title itself, to me, at first, suggested a school-age parody of George W. Bush. 12-year-old protagonist Oliver, as he presents himself to the other people in the book, makes W. seem like he has a Stephen Hawking brain with the authoritative eloquence of Morgan Freeman. No one expects anything out of Oliver, in other words - he's chunky, clumsy, drooly and appears to have the mental capacity of a first grader.

Secretly, though, Oliver is a self-made billionaire. He has a staff of employees who have no idea who they work for, including operatives in his school. Oliver has a Batcave-type hideout under his house, where a character-combo of Batman's butler Alfred and Bitterman from Arthur carries out his personal demands. Oliver's parents are none the wiser. The dad is a pretentious a-hole, and the mom is oblivious and throws food at all her son's problems.

Oliver enters the election for class president to spite his dad, to spit the cute girl, to spite the popular kid. Because, you see, Oliver has an almost omniscient brain but also the emotions of a child. In this regard, he's kind of like the Old Testament God: If I have everything, but no one chooses to worship me, then I have nothing. I'll get them, yes I will. I'll get all of them.

So there's revenge fantasy stuff, and it's pretty cold-hearted, even for a satire. Especially for a middle-grade satire. The bottom line, though, is GOUE is entertaining. And even if it's not believable, you'll still expend some mental energy trying to figure out how someone in Oliver's position, even with all those resources, could still pull off some of this stuff.
Profile Image for Martha.
84 reviews2 followers
October 9, 2021
Normally I don’t read much contemporary young adult literature. Honestly, I can’t remember any I’ve read in the last couple of years. I read some along with my daughter when she was young but stopped as she got older. I couldn’t bring myself to read the “Twilight” series because the brooding vampire thing doesn’t really do it for me. The last brooding vampire I read about was Lestat and I lost interest in him after “The Vampire Lestat”. I would have read along with my son but he went from “Captain Underpants” to Issac Asimov. Until last week.

Looking for a new book for him to read I saw “I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President” by Josh Lieb. I could no more pass up that title than I could pass up free breadsticks and trust me, my friends, there’s no way I would pass up either. If the title alone didn’t attract me there was a great story to boot.

Now, my family can tell you I have an infinite ability to suspend disbelief. Really, I’ll pretty much buy anything for a good story. So, I didn’t have a problem with an eighth grade genius being the second richest person in the world with a secret lair the covered almost the entire underside of the city of Omaha and secret minions who keep him protected from the bullies in not only the world but in the halls of Gale Sayers Middle School. The problem I had when I started to read this was the over the top style it was “written” in. I could really see the writing, at first. But, then I had to rejigger my thinking. It’s suppose to be over the top. How could it not? We’re talking about a boy running for eighth grade president to secretly hires an elite campaign strategist to help him rig the election, he has a special stall in the boys bathroom where the toilet dispenses milk duds and popcorn. I got it, over the top is what Lieb was going for. It’s sly and irreverent, it’s funny and snarky, and it actually has somethings to say about politics, parenting, and what being an evil genius really means.

Lieb was an Executive Producer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and also worked on The Simpsons which definitely shows in his style. It’s smart and funny. Think Dexter’s Laboratory (do people remember that cartoon?) with less accent and more treats. Better still, there’s a happy ending even though Oliver is now only the fourth richest person in the world.
June 18, 2010
Oliver Watson is an overweight, dim witted, 12-year-old boy whose only joy in life is coming home to his mother's grilled cheese sandwiches. Actually this is just the cover that he uses to mask the fact that he is a malevolent genius and the third richest man in the world. Oliver runs his evil empire, unbeknownst to his parents, from a secret lair under his house. During school he is guarded by specially trained operatives that invisibly dispatch bullies, "motivate" the principal, and harass teachers for him. His life would be perfect if his father, unknowingly his arch nemesis, wasn't constantly reliving his glory days of becoming class president. Oliver sets out to embarass his father by proving that even an "imbecile" could become class president. Ultimately he finds out that it isn't so easy to get kids to vote for you, even if you do handpick your opponent and sabotage his campaign from the inside. Unexpectedly, losing the election helps him to discover that his father truly does love him and is proud of him regardless of his supposed lack of intellect.

This book is a quick, fun read. I think that teens, especially boys, will appreciate Oliver's sarcastic footnotes and the comical black and white pictures.
Profile Image for Meghan.
1,329 reviews38 followers
December 11, 2009
Oliver is a super-genius seventh grader, one of two billionaires living in Omaha, Nebraska. Because he is twelve, though, he has to hide his assets and appear unassuming. He disguises himself as a half-witted, fat, unpopular, dork. Little does anyone know that he has the ability, through secret technologies and spy networks, to make anything happen in his school at any time. From secret restroom stalls manned by butlers who serve refreshments, to an attempt to change the life of his English teacher through stealth messages printed on his cigarettes, Oliver is eminently in control of his environment although he appears sublimely stupid.

This is hilarious, as when he descends beneath the basement of his home to a vast underground cavern, to relax by listening to Captain Beefheart, his favorite artist. The interactions between Oliver and his family, teachers, and fellow students are also hilarious, because of his secret thoughts and abilities and his need to keep them a secret.
Profile Image for Becca.
42 reviews8 followers
April 4, 2011
There is a quote from John Stewart on the cover of this book that says, “If War and Peace had a baby with The Breakfast Club and then left the baby to be raised by wolves, this book would be the result. I loved it.” Quite an endorsement for a debut novel, I thought. Then again, author Josh Lieb is an executive producer for The Daily Show. Intrigued, I decided to find out for myself whether Stewart’s praise rings true.

I must say, although in the end I found the book’s humor to be a bit too mean-spirited for my taste, one thing is for sure: I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President is every bit as weird and wickedly imaginative as Stewart’s quote would have you believe.

Oliver Watson is a chubby, ignorable 12-year-old at Gale Sayers Middle School in Omaha, Nebraska. Everyone—including his doting mother, his dorky father, his bullying classmates, and his impossible teachers—is convinced that he is as dumb as the pencils he shoves up his nose. But it is all an elaborate act to cover up the truth: Oliver is an evil genius bent on world domination. In between deliberately failing his classes and innocently scarfing down his mom’s grilled cheese sandwiches, he has found the time to become the third-richest person in the world—complete with an underground lair of gadgets and inventions, a global network of spies and technicians, and dedicated undercover bodyguards at his disposal.

An inventor and investor trapped in a middle schooler’s body, he has never had a problem hiding his true identity from the minions and idiots surrounding him. He sneaks out of his bedroom at night to ride a specially engineering hot air balloon, runs covert operations during gym class from a wire transmitter imbedded in his jaw, and trains his ruthless dog Lollipop to respond to commands in the
obscure dialect of the Basque region, all in a school day’s work. But when his father (who is also his arch-nemesis), throws down the gauntlet of running for school president, Oliver accepts the challenge. Although he has singlehandedly organized corporate buy-outs, overthrown dictators, restructured foreign governments, and rigged the school water fountains to provide chocolate milk and root beer at the touch of a secret button, he is about to discover that running a campaign for school government is actually harder than it looks.

It is no small task to tell a story from the viewpoint of a nasty, evil, diabolical pre-teen and have it be an enjoyable experience for the reader. Certainly, if you want a warm fuzzy book with positive family values and good communication, this isn’t the one. But I am a Genius… is undeniably clever, consistently funny (particularly for those who enjoy sarcasm and occasionally cruel humor), highly imaginative, and—best of all—flatteringly sophisticated for its intended age group. With strong satirical overtones, hilarious footnotes, and related photographic inserts, it’s a pleasure to see a middle-grade book that assumes such intelligence in its readers. I can only hope that intelligence will be used for good rather than unspeakable evil.
Profile Image for Jodi P.
657 reviews15 followers
April 1, 2011
Oh dear. I really did not like this book. Yet another 2012 Nutmeg Nominee, this one grabbed my attention over some of the others because of the crazy title and the blurbs on the cover. It is not often you see a YA book with a glowing review from none other than Jon Stewart!! However, it became quite clear within the first few pages that this book was not for me.
I am not quite sure who it IS for to be honest with you. If I had to pick, I would say it is for kids who have been bullied and like to daydream about a world where they hold all the power, and all the fortune, over those who have wronged them.
The boy in the story is seen as all those around him as being mentally slow. He, however, plays it off to the reader as if this is some brilliant scheme he runs so that he can get away with being lazy in school and at home thus focusing his energy on his billion dollar empire. When a classmate decides to nominate our narrator for class president, he seems this as a perfect opportunity to impress the father who is constantly disappointed in him.
I'm not really sure what else to say about the story. It was certainly fantastical and full of elaborate details (when you press a special button on the school water fountain, rootbeer comes out!) but when it was finally finished I ended up with a sour taste. I wonder not only how my teen readers will react to this but how I will even sell this book to them. I wasn't sure how Josh Lieb wanted the reader to feel at the end. Are we supposed to believe that his character really is this evil genius? I mean, come on. Or, are we supposed to shake our heads sadly at the insane fantasies of a bullied and challenged boy? I hope not, because that would be quite awful.
62 reviews3 followers
May 9, 2011
Oh dear. I really did not like this book. Yet another 2012 Nutmeg Nominee, this one grabbed my attention over some of the others because of the crazy title and the blurbs on the cover. It is not often you see a YA book with a glowing review from none other than Jon Stewart!! However, it became quite clear within the first few pages that this book was not for me.
I am not quite sure who it IS for to be honest with you. If I had to pick, I would say it is for kids who have been bullied and like to daydream about a world where they hold all the power, and all the fortune, over those who have wronged them.
The boy in the story is seen as all those around him as being mentally slow. He, however, plays it off to the reader as if this is some brilliant scheme he runs so that he can get away with being lazy in school and at home thus focusing his energy on his billion dollar empire. When a classmate decides to nominate our narrator for class president, he seems this as a perfect opportunity to impress the father who is constantly disappointed in him.
I'm not really sure what else to say about the story. It was certainly fantastical and full of elaborate details (when you press a special button on the school water fountain, rootbeer comes out!) but when it was finally finished I ended up with a sour taste. I wonder not only how my teen readers will react to this but how I will even sell this book to them. I wasn't sure how Josh Lieb wanted the reader to feel at the end. Are we supposed to believe that his character really is this evil genius? I mean, come on. Or, are we supposed to shake our heads sadly at the insane fantasies of a bullied and challenged boy? I hope not, because that would be quite awful.
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,334 reviews343 followers
October 19, 2011
(Read this as a 3 1/2 star review, please. Curse the lack of half stars!)

Sometimes, I see a book and the title interests me enough that I read it without question. The title of this book demanded that I read it.

Essentially, what we have here is an exercise in middle school level humorous sociopathy. That's not a value judgement, because it actually is pretty funny. I am absolutely not ashamed of how much amusement I got out of Oliver's use of the Electrolyzer, or the cigarette messages. But this is an author who's worked on both The Daily Show and The Simpsons, so it had better be funny.

Oliver's status as third (ok, fourth) richest person in the world (but he employs a recovering alcoholic to be the public face of his financial empire) is, of course, wildly unrealistic, as is most of the stuff he uses his money on. It's also wildly unrealistic that he could masquerade as a complete and total simpleton for his entire life without anybody catching on. But we're working on the Rule of Funny here, so it passes. (I've seen one or two people speculate that Oliver's wealth and status is really the fantasy of a bullied kid, but I think that's even less plausible. Really.)

This is all in Oliver's voice, which is snarky, self-absorbed, and a blast to read. He obviously cares more than he lets on, about his mother and his need for his father's approval. The other star here is Tati, the only character to enjoy herself from beginning to end, and who may be even more of an evil genius than Oliver himself, with one of the funniest Xanatos Gambits I can remember seeing. I'd love to read a follow up from her perspective.
Profile Image for Mike B.
8 reviews1 follower
January 14, 2010
While reading this I kept wondering if this was the story of a kid who is being bullied and kept retreating into the confines of his imagination to come up with a coping mechanism. I kept hoping that Oliver would finally admit to the reader that all these evil schemes were not true. However, everything was supposed to be taken at face value. Oliver was really evil, really powerful, and only pretended to be a moron to the people in his real life. When that never happened, and I realized that Oliver was who he represented himself to be, I didn't like him.

While I understand that the "Oliver" that everyone believes him to be is just a facade, I found very little that I could sympathize with.
I found little redeeming qualities in his story and I don't feel he grows at all.
In the same vein, Diary of a Wimpy Kid's Greg Heffley doesn't have any redeeming qualities whatsoever. That is why I don't rate the books very high. However, I can understand the popularity of the series because kids can relate to Greg. I don't think Genius will be popular because no person can relate to Oliver. He's a billionaire, whiny, selfish glutton who could have friends if he stopped acting like a baby.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jennie.
396 reviews20 followers
January 26, 2010
I liked this book, but I didn't love it as I thought I might when I was only a couple of pages in.

What I liked:
*Oliver, the anti-hero who lives mostly in a make believe (but is it really make believe?) world he has created for himself where he only appears dumb and socially awkward to cover up the fact that he's really a super genius who rules most of the world. Honestly, some of the things he could do in his world, like hit a secret button and have the water fountain dispense soda instead of water- hit a little too close to home to the things I used to pretend and thought I was the only one.
*Lollipop, his dog.
*The relentless skewering of middle school politics and by extension, our whole democracy.

Things that confused me:
*Some, if not the bulk of the humor is going to go right over the intended audience's head. (It is YA after all.) I know some pretty bright middle schoolers, but can't come up with one off the top of my head who would appreciate a Nietzsche joke.
*The ending. (You'll just have to trust me on that.)

All and all, though, a quick read that I don't regret.
Profile Image for Megan.
393 reviews7 followers
September 18, 2010
Caris told me that he knew I would like this book, and he was right. I knew Oliver was my kinda guy as soon as I started reading it. Who, if blessed with the same genius and financial ability as our young psychopath, wouldn't use their power to make the water fountains dispense chocolate milk and root beer, or have a secret underground lair inside their house? I mean, come on.

I have to admit, though, I though Ollie was more cute and cuddly than psychopathic and evil, but that might be because he and I are on totally the same wavelength. Not that I would ever try to cuddle him.

I thought this book was funny and cleverly done. There's a mix of text and visual elements that were used pretty creatively. My only qualm with the book was Oliver's parental issues. Whenever he was ranting about his Daddy and public television, I just got a little bored. For that reason, the ending felt flat. His mom also bugged me, in a different way, but I contribute that more to the fact that we see her through Oliver's eyes.

Good stuff.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Fensin.
309 reviews4 followers
October 3, 2018
This is the weirdest middle school book I have ever read! The protagonist is well on his way to some sort of world domination.
Profile Image for Pi.
40 reviews7 followers
May 21, 2019
4,5 stars ;)
It's just so damned funny, weird and original. The plot is literally in the title, and it was just really a good reading experience.

Easy reading
Profile Image for Mike.
489 reviews170 followers
October 1, 2012
Before I start this review, I would first like to say that this is one of the funniest, if not the funniest book I've ever read. Lieb is clearly an incredibly talented comedian. But humor alone doesn't make a book perfect, and I do have one central issue with it, that issue being the characters. Because honestly, the characterization is kind of a mess. The people in this story feel more like caricatures than real people, and this really takes the fun out of repeated reads. I'll use an example everyone will be familiar with; compare reading a Calvin and Hobbes book to a Garfield one. One of the things that makes Calvin and Hobbes so great is that much of the humor comes from the characters. They were used as caricatures sometimes, but ultimately, they had more to them that simply this. In contrast, Garfield may make you laugh a bit on a first read, but on repeated reads, there will be nothing new. Calvin being Calvin is often interesting, even long after you've gotten bored of a particular joke. Garfield being Garfield, not so much. Keeping this in mind, the first thing that comes to mind when writing a review of this book is that it's like Garfield, only funnier. Other than Oliver himself, there are no characters developed further than one adjective; Tatiana was the mean one, Randy was the nerdy one, Jack was the popular one, ect. Because of this, the book is quite boring to read more than once, because once you've read the joke, that's all there is. (Well, until the end, when a large burst of emotion comes, but it's so out of the blue that it's completely ineffective.)

That being said, if you like humor just for the sake of humor, I couldn't think of a better book to recommend to you.
Profile Image for Ryan.
4,707 reviews25 followers
June 20, 2017
If you want a fun book to put a smile on your face, read this one. This is one of those books that intrigued me when it came out in 2009, and now eight years later I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

Oliver Watson is a genius. And he has used this genius to become the almost richest man in the world. Except no one knows it's him. To the world he is a dumb, tubby, 8th grader, who is lucky he can tie his shoes. He hides his genius. I can’t explain the reasons without giving away the book. He decides to show up a certain character and become class president. But creating an election with no opponent is not good enough, he has to run against someone and win. Between causing a coup in Africa, and searching for the unobtainable Star Wars figure, how is he ever going to become class president? Luckily he has minions and the Pythons to help him out.

At first reading I feel like I have become friends with Zac Morris (please tell me you have seen Saved by the Bell). Oliver talks just like Zac does, and he even includes comical footnotes. The footnote about Miley Cyrus had me rolling my eyes in a good way. He has these schemes that seem like they should never work, but he has confidence, and the money and power to make things happen. At about the halfway point we stir in some Despicable Me. The book pre-dates the movie, but it is an accurate description. Evil Genius, but maybe with a conscience. Maybe not.

It is like reading the script for a Nickelodeon show. It’s impossible, crazy, funny, and it has heart. I could see this being a great book for a middle school book club.
#BeatTheBackList #William- character who deals in money
387 reviews14 followers
May 10, 2010
A wonky little piece of supposedly juvenile fiction. This is an odd little 12 year old megalomaniacal fantasy of massive wealth, mammoth power and grilled cheese sandwiches. Oliver ”Ollie” Watson is a super-genius inventor, businessman, social engineer child prodigy with homicidal daddy issues. The character resembles the Family Guy television show character of Stewie in cadence, behavior and outdated references (musical shout-outs are made to Captain Beefheart, Lynryd Skynyrd and Cream). His delight in at least two instances of torture, some personal chemical warfare, the near killing of his closest ally and almost the wholesale slaughter of his whole school make this book, like Stewie, a very questionable choice for the pre-teen set. Having said that older readers, say those who have a snowball’s chance of having heard of Captain Beefheart, who are already cynical, jaded and in possession of a lot of unfocused resentment will have find some of Oliver’s rants against education and democracy fairly funny. Unfortunately, some of author Josh Lieb’s targets most notably public television pledge drives and middle school teachers, are too well worn to provide any fresh laughs. Ultimately, his characters are drawn in such dark and disfigured strokes you don’t really care what happens to them and the plot points drift from inventive to just outlandish one too many times. Keep it away from the kids.
Profile Image for Lyndsay.
31 reviews14 followers
May 27, 2018
On the back of this book, there is a blurb - courtesy of Judd Apatow - that almost chides the reader to concede that this book is a brave piece of work. I have news for you: it's not.

It is funny.
It is clever.
It is engrossing.
It is sincere.
It is intelligent. (Don't let "young adult" discourage you.)
It is a wonderful picture of middle school, with cringe-worthy descriptions of acne, farts, and projectile vomit.

But brave it is not. Most of the characters fit stereotypes and do not deviate from them. (They are one-dimensional, but it works well for this book.) That can hardly be billed as "bravery," and I wish the blurb had done more justice to the book. Even though it's filled with stereotypes and stars a cast of eighth graders, it's damn good fun! It's a book written to be entertaining, and it is in the most addictive sense. The chapters read easily, and are short; pages are guaranteed to keep turning no matter how tired you're getting. (I'm writing this review at 2:30 a.m., take my word for it.)

My only gripe about the book is that the narrator addresses the reader as an individual, but the title of chapter 38 says "[you] all." This discrepancy bothered me, but if THAT'S the only complaint I have, then, well... I'm not going to complain. Now go read this book!
Profile Image for Mark.
230 reviews29 followers
December 13, 2009
Meh . . . this one was certainly not as good as initial hype had led me to believe. The book does have some very funny parts, but overall the humor gets old after a few chapters, and the story really isn't anything to write home about. Oliver Watson is an overweight, unpopular middle school student, but that's just his cover. In reality, he's an entrepreneurial mastermind, who is one of the world's richest people at age 12, and runs a number of multinational corporations, runs secretive operations around the world, and basically wields enormous and immediate power whenever he sees fit. And at this point in his career, his goal is to be voted class president, as much to irk his never-impressed father as anything else. The voice in the book is definitely snarky and humorous, but as I said, it wears on you after a while. I think young readers would appreciate the improbable ways Oliver has to get around daily school life (snack bars hidden in the boys' restroom stalls, for example). However, Oliver's tirade against government during the final presidential debate, and the fact that he's invested so much capital and energy into winning a middle school officer's post, will probably leave many wondering what the big deal really is.
Profile Image for Laura.
385 reviews526 followers
October 18, 2009
The title kind of says it all, really. Oliver Watson is, in fact, a 12-year-old evil genius, complete with minions, who single-handedly runs the world (or at least several multi-national corporations, which is the same thing). But like most 12-year-old boys, his real ambition is to impress his aging hippie father, who likes to wax rhapsodic about the wonders of the democratic process. Presumably because 12-year-olds can't be United States Senators, Oliver runs for class president, but, because his father won't be impressed by anything less than a 100-percent-American-as-apple-pie-honest-to-god democratic victory, he tries to do it fair and square.

The conceit here starts to get a bit old rather quickly, but the writing is funny, the plot is engaging (believe it or not), and the photographs are pretty funny, especially the one photo essay (although I couldn't help thinking that the latter was more a function of the author's getting a bit lazy than it was a genuine attempt to be funny). And the portrayal of Oedipal tension between father and son really is very well done.
Profile Image for Alice.
845 reviews48 followers
March 4, 2010
I was disappointed in the payoff of this book. You're clearly supposed to dislike the main character throughout, and await his downfall with glee.

And yet, he never realizes how wrong he is, despite the intelligence of which he is so proud. He never questions his beliefs; he revels in locking in opinions that close him off to the rest of the world.

I suppose that's all part of the "evil" thing, but it robbed me of any chance of connecting with the character.

And then, at the end, it actually tries to make a political point by having it come out of this evil genius's mouth. He has a lot of good points in his presidential speech, which are all obscured by his having no idea how to actually interact with people, showing how his disregard for human emotion cripples him.

I had higher expectations for this book. But it didn't make me laugh; it didn't even get a snicker out of me. It lent no insight. It was simply a story about another kind of bully, the kind you end up wanting the true bullies to pick on, because he's such a twit.
Profile Image for Barbara A..
168 reviews21 followers
June 14, 2009
The 1st YA by the Emmy Award winning Executive Producer of the Daly Show. Funny. Cruel, Smart Ass. Ironic and wonderfully improbable. Rather than act as a spolier--I will just say that younger adult book buyers (20's and 30's) will devour this...only pausing to guffaw or belch. The potent mix of ironic cruelty with splashes of meanspirtedness takes this out of 'classic' YA realm though.
Market this directly as an 'adult' read for Daly Show fans and it will fly off the shelves. Trade paperback possibilties. Send it to Jimmy Kimmel.
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