From School Library Journal
Grade 6–9—In Evil Genius
(Harcourt, 2007), Cadel Piggott used his amazing brain for crime, and lived to regret the results. In this entertaining sequel, he joins a secret group of computer whizzes working on a more constructive, but still dangerous project. While using his hacking skills and forging friendships, he tries to steer clear of his notorious father, who threatens his safety even from prison. The first half of the book focuses on setting up elaborate schemes and establishing characters, and the details slow the plot down a bit. Action really picks up in the last 100 pages or so, though, as Cadel and the people he loves the most are endangered by his father. Readers who relished the complex plotting, sharp characterizations, and technological intrigue of the first book will enjoy this one, which includes a shift in atmosphere that gives this installment a slightly different flavor. Having rejected the destructive philosophy of his tutor/father, Cadel truly wants to do good this time. New relationships and powerful, sometimes conflicting, emotions affect the way he now applies his talents. As a character, he's less instantly engaging than he was in the first book, but ultimately more interesting. Fans of Evil Genius
will have the easiest time catching on to the action, but others should be able to keep up. A satisfying ending answers some questions regarding Cadel's personal situation while setting the stage for a future showdown.—Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR
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Cut loose from his manipulative guardians in Evil Genius (2007), 15-year-old Cadel now endures the humiliations of social welfare (e.g., a foster mom who says things like “This is sleep time, Cadel. This isn’t computer time”) on top of the stresses of being a protected witness in the Axis Institute investigations. So when Cadel and his math-genius pal, Sonja, are offered spots at a group home “for bright kids,” the friends quickly agree—fully aware that they’re actually joining a group of teen computer hackers recruited to take down a rotten corporation. This sequel is an odd mix. Amid confusing, technical details of cyberespionage, Cadel’s relationships with two kind, concerned grown-ups often are more the stuff of heartwarming middle-grade fiction than YA technological thriller. Also, wheelchair-bound Sonja doesn’t do much beyond inspire Cadel’s compassionate reflections about the challenges of cerebral palsy. The novel lacks the sly tone and psychological depth of its predecessor, but readers craving high-tech escapades will find plenty of them here, along with a revelation-spiked finale that lays the groundwork for the trilogy closer. Grades 7-10. --Jennifer Mattson