Brandy's Reviews > I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class... by Josh Lieb
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's review
Dec 30, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009, for-reviews, teen, boy-books, middle-grade, unreliable-narrator

Oliver Watson is one of the dumbest kids in the seventh grade, and one of the most pathetic. However, he knows something the other kids don't. In fact, he knows lots of things the other kids don't, because the dumb-kid thing is actually his cover for his genius. And we're not talking quiz-bowl genius, but third-richest-man-in-America, secret-lair-under-the-house genius. After buying up companies and corporations (several for the sole purpose of helping or hurting classmates' parents, depending how nice each classmate is to him), Oliver has his sights set on one more task: becoming class president. With his connections, it's easy to eliminate the competition--but how can one really win an election when there's nobody running against him?

Despite Oliver's penchant for being a vindictive jerk, he's still enjoyable to read about. His voice never wavers; Lieb manages to make him sound exactly as you'd expect a seventh-grade evil genius to sound: part cartoonish, part business, part exasperated with his family, his teachers, his classmates, his minions. Oliver may be strategically brilliant, but his immaturity trips him up in hilariously unexpected ways.

This is one of the few books I've found that can sustain a particular style of humor without working my last nerve by the end--it never seems self-conscious, but just so much exactly who Oliver is. Probably best for 8th-11th grades--even though Oliver is in the 7th grade, his voice is a little older and many of the references will go over younger readers' heads. A sharp and funny read, even if the cover may look a little young.

[edit:] You could make a case for a certain Walter Mitty-ness to this, but that's more thought than I want to put in right now. I like it at the surface level. Fascinating to consider it as the daydreams of a bullied kid, but that's a lot of intellectual energy I don't have at the moment.
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