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Evil Genius Paperback – October 4, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Is it possible to cultivate readers' affection for a character who has been trained from his tenderest years to dismiss evil as a "loaded word"? Australian writer Jinks, author of the Crusades-era Pagan series, successfully meets the challenge in this very different novel. She devises gradations of wrongdoing so steep that her antihero's adversaries leave him (almost) smelling like a rose. At age seven, child prodigy Cadel Piggott lands in a shrink's office for illegal computer hacking, where psychologist Thaddeus Roth delivers startling counsel: "Next time, don't get caught." Thaddeus is an agent of Cadel's real father, a brilliant crook who, from behind bars, manages to place Cadel at the secretive Axis Institute for World Domination. By 13, Cadel is earnestly studying "Infiltration, Misinformation, and Embezzlement," but as he increasingly relies on an outside friendship, he privately plots to extricate himself from the paterfamilias.Comic-book fans will enjoy the school's aspiring villains (including one who floors foes with deadly B.O.), but this is more than a campy set-piece. Cadel's turnabout is convincingly hampered by his difficulty recognizing appropriate outlets for rage, and Jinks' whiplash-inducing suspense writing will gratify fans of Anthony Horowitz's high-tech spy scenarios. Although some of the technical concerns of evil geniuses (firewalls, tax shelters, nanotechnology) may stymie less-patient readers, most will press on, riveted by the chilling aspects of a child trapped in adult agendas that, iceberglike, hide beneath the surface. Mattson, Jennifer
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


* "As the complex deceptions that have shaped Cadel's life come to light, his emotional unraveling and awakening will likely engross readers."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Jinks fills out the cast with brilliantly conceived friends and adversaries . . . Cadel rides right up there with Artemis Fowl as a sympathetic anti-villain."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Whiplash-inducing suspense writing will gratify fans of Anthony Horowitz's high-tech spy scenarios."--Booklist, starred review

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152061851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152061852
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

CATHERINE JINKS was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1963. She grew up in Papua New Guinea and later spent four years studying medieval history at the University of Sydney. After working for several years in a bank, she married a Canadian journalist and lived for a short time in Nova Scotia, Canada. She is now a full-time writer, residing in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales with her husband Peter and their daughter Hannah.Catherine is a three-time winner of the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year award, and has also won a Victorian Premier's Literature Award, the Ena Noel Award for Children's Literature, and an Aurealis Award for Science Fiction. In 2001 she was presented with a Centenary Medal for her contribution to Australian Children's Literature.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Identity is a theme central to many YA books, however multiple award-winner Jinks comes at it from a slightly different angle than most in her latest novel. Thirteen year old genius Cadel Piggott lives in Sydney (Australia) with his distracted parents. Unfortunately, his advanced intellect makes it hard for him to understand how other people think, and he has no social skills. Bored out of his skull, Cadel quite naturally gets into some mischief (in this case some computer hacking). As a result, he's taken to see a psychologist, who, refreshingly, treats him like an adult. In a twist straight out of Joseph Campbell, the psychologist reveals that Cadel is in fact the secret son of incarcerated international arch-villain Dr. Darkkon. Fortunately for Cadel, the psychologist is Dr. Darkkon's agent and has been put in place to act as intermediary (and indoctrinator).

Cadel's brilliance and innate arrogance are played to, as he is told that his true father is working on a plot for world domination. Dr. Darkkon is sick of dim-wits running the show, and wants Cadel at his side to help him in this scheme. Toward that end, Cadel's progress through high-school is accelerated, and soon he's left that unhappy experience behind (with a parting gift of both physical and social wreckage), and is enrolled at the Axis Institute. A facade of higher education, its chemistry classes are all about poisons, art classes are about forgery, and the computer classes all about hacking. Cadel joins a class of freaks and geeks recruited from all over as prospective sidekicks or useful tools for Dr. Darkkon's plans.

So far, so good. Cadel is a cold character and while the book is obviously somewhat tongue-in-cheek with the arch-villain and the Evil U, Cadel's underlying melancholy is all too real.
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2 of 0 people found the following review helpful By Viviane Crystal VINE VOICE on May 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What is it like for a child genius whose thinking so far exceeds his peers that he is forced into being a loner? How to tame and encourage such intelligence? What pranks has Cadel Piggot imagined and carried out from the time he is 7 years old to his 14th year when everything starts falling apart? What's the borderline between pranks and fiendish evil?

After carrying out some super-hacking into computers, Cadel is placed under the therapy of Dr. Thaddeus Roth. Only Thaddeus is far from your standard therapist and encourages Cadel in plotting his further learning and deception. Soon Cadel learns he is the son of a madman, though he really doesn't believe that, in jail and begins to communicate with him through technological marvels invented by Dr. Darkkon.

While enjoying this imaginative and exciting period of his life, he starts a dating service online and meets Kay-Lee, a "number" genius. But things begin terrifying at the college he attends at 13, the Axis Institute, composed of the school of deception, the school of organic perversion, and the school of destruction. On first reading this, it might seem amusing but hardly conveys the terror the reader will experience as one by one the almost freakish students start disappearing by explosions, poison, suicide and more. How involved is the faculty, Thaddeus, and Dr. Darkkon? Who is really Cadel's father? And who learns the secret that causes Cadel to become the target of the next devastating act of violence?

How will Cadel deal with Kay-Lee's rejection and is really her own or caused by someone who has tapped into Cadel's private world as part of the plan to destroy him? Who really is Kay-Lee?
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By SciFiChick VINE VOICE on May 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Evil Genius, by Catherine Jinks, is a fresh and clever young adult novel written about a misunderstood child prodigy.

Cadel Piggott is a genius, especially with computers. When he gets into some trouble with the law at the age of seven, he foster parents take him to a psychologist who helps him discover his full potential. And eventually tells Cadel that his real father is none other than the villainous Dr. Phineas Darkkon.

Cadel's psychologist encourages his family to send Cadel to the Axis Institute. But the college is more than it seems. Also known as the Axis Institute for World Domination, it's actually a higher learning center for students who want to study from one of the three schools of Deception, Destruction, and Organic Distortion (also known as Applied Arts, Environmental Science, and Biomedical Science). There is even a fun website that you can visit to find out more about the institute and it's students and faculty. When Cadel's classmates begin dropping out (and dying) one-by-one, he begins second guessing his decisions. And the more secrets and evil that he uncovers, the less he likes who he has become.

Evil Genius is full of incredibly unique and creative characters. When I first began reading this, Cadel seemed to be the antithesis of Harry Potter. But Cadel actually has more depth to his character. And this is no story for smaller children. There are many deaths, though none are graphic. This is marketed to 12 years and up, and I agree. But a warning that the book is lengthy, with plenty of technical jargon, that I tended to skim over.

With more twists and turns than the Los Angeles freeway system, Evil Genius is a wonderfully surprising treat for all fans of great literary supervillains and those striving for world domination.
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