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I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President Hardcover – October 13, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–9—Lieb's first novel is a comedy/sci-fi fantasy about Oliver Watson, an overweight 12-year-old from Omaha, NE, who fools his family and classmates into thinking that he is slow-witted when in fact he is the world's third-richest person. He overthrows foreign dictators, owns corporations, is a successful inventor and investor, and is on the way to attaining his goal of world domination. This evil supergenius, who makes Artemis Fowl look ready for sainthood, has the appeal of a cartoon villain. His father and arch nemesis is too involved in running a local PBS affiliate and too uninvolved in his son. What Oliver really wants is his dad's approval and attention. He decides that the way to get this is to win the election for president of the eighth-grade class at Gale Sayers Middle School. Lieb perfectly captures the wise-guy sarcasm and trash mouth of a seventh-grade evil genius. Readers will love the sci-fi/fantasy touches, from Oliver's elaborate underground lair to the transmitter implanted in his jaw and his installing root beer and chocolate milk at the school's water fountain (of course, only he knows how to make it work). The format—short blurbs of text interspersed with humorous black-and-white photos—will appeal to reluctant readers. Although the book has as little subtlety as its title, certainly the theme of a boy wanting his father's love is a universal one. This is a book kids will be talking about.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME END


"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." – Jon Stewart

“Josh Lieb is on one of the great brave journeys in American literature. Or maybe he just signed my name to a blurb he wrote. Either way, you have to admit he’s brave. And the book is hilarious.” – Judd Apatow

“Pitch perfect…Every kid who’s ever felt put upon, misunderstood, and, let’s admit it, infinitely superior to his or her peers will laugh out loud as they enter Oliver’s hilarious secret world…” – BCCB, starred review

"Lieb perfectly captures the wise-guy sarcasm and trash mouth of a seventh-grade evil genius...This is a book kids will be talking about." – School Library Journal

"Similar to Artemis Fowl but without the supernatural element, Lieb's creative and twisted first novel gets a positive vote." – Kirkus

“Beware, kids: Once your parents pick it up, they won’t be able to put it down. (Guilty as charged.)” – New York Post

“Walter Mitty for teenagers, especially those who do not fit in. They will become huge fans of this book.” – VOYA

“Josh Lieb has set literature back a hundred years.” – Daniel Pinkwater

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series, and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. Pre-order the official script book today. Kindle | Hardcover

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill; First Edition edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595142401
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595142405
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,134,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Related Media

More About the Author

Josh Lieb is a very, very nice man who writes books and TV and movies. He was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, and he is a fan of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, which makes him a stronger and deeper and more interesting soul than most people. It makes him a poet. As a teenager, he spent his summers working at grocery stores in Omaha, Nebraska, where he has family. He went to Harvard for college, and was a pretty lousy student, but he joined the Lampoon, which is the famous humor magazine there, and made a lot of friends. Then he went into TV writing because it looked easy and lucrative. He was sort of right. Mr. Lieb has served as an Executive Producer or Co-Executive Producer on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, NewsRadio, and The Simpsons. Some of his movie scripts have gotten turned into not-so-great movies but you shouldn't blame him for that. You should buy the movies! They aren't as bad as they look. His debut novel, "I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President" made it to the New York Times bestseller list. It is a great book. A great, great book. It is probably the best book. It was written for a Young Adult audience, but is meant to be read by adults as well. He's writing the sequel right now. He is married and has some kids and some dogs and a cat and a turtle.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There aren't many books for middle schoolers out there that sport blurbs from folks like Jon Stewart and Judd Apatow. There is, in fact, only one. Which means that we're talking about a book written for kids that is hoping to reach those out there who enjoy watching The Daily Show on DVR and Superbad on DVD. Probably boys. Adolescent, definitely. And no wonder, since the author (Josh Lieb) actually is a head writer on The Daily Show and everything. But since I (A) like boy books and (B) was a huge fan of the similarly plotted "Evil Genius" by Catherine Jinks I figured I had a chance at liking this one. And I did. Quite a bit. The book is the ultimate wish fulfillment fantasy of any child more intelligent than their cruel classmates. Lieb does a masterful job at tapping into the humor and hatred that seethes beneath the surface of every seventh grade boy. The ending leaves something to be desired, but on the whole the book is a hoot and for a certain kind of kid it's hugely entertaining.

If you encountered Oliver Watson in school you'd probably think he was the biggest dumbest dork on the planet. All his fellow classmates feel that way, and his parents don't think he's all that bright either. Get to know him a little better, however, and you'd better hope he's taken a shine to you. Oliver isn't just a genius. He's a supergenius, multi-billionaire, using his current state as a middle school "slow" chubby kid as the perfect front.
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Format: Hardcover
A funny and smart portrait of both Evil Geniusdom and life in middle school. A fun read with a sharp eye, and with genuine insight into growing up, and how hard it is for parents and children to understand each other. I read it in one weekend and would recommend it to anyone -- adult or child.
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Format: Paperback
I love good comic fiction (to me the gold standard is P.G. Wodehouse), which often leads to hopefully picking up books like this and reading them. It's not often you see a book blurbed by Jon Stewart and Judd Apatow, so it seemed worth a gamble. The story takes the student council election shenanigans of Tom Perrota's excellent Election, and tries to amplify the comedy by moving things down to middle school and making the tubby 7th-grade protagonist a literal evil genius, complete with underground lair, secret minions, and ferocious dog. It's not a bad premise, after all, it's generally comic gold to have a main character be a kid who acts as an adult, more so if they're up to no good.

However, the comic antics here just aren't that sharp or funny. I think part of the problem is that the writing is so choppy, as everything comes at you in a rat-a-tat-tat delivery with a line break seemingly between almost every sentence. It sits on the page more like a sketch comedy script or series of punchlines than actual narrative prose (and it also means the book can be easily read in under two hours). Plenty of bits and pieces are amusing, such as his messing with the English teacher by having insults printed on cigarettes that the teacher discovers in unopened packs, or his retrofitting of the school with a secret room complete with on-call butler, or his interactions with the Warren Buffett-like figurehead for his evil empire (the book is set in Omaha).
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent and hilarious novel. Oliver Watson should go down as one of our great literary heroes, but probably will not. Why not? Because the novel is genuine funny, and there is an east coast bias against taking humorous novels seriously. Is Oliver a young Jay Gatsby? Probably not. A young Oedipus? Definitely. But Oliver is most like a slightly younger Alex from A Clockwork Orange. Alex was but 15, Oliver is 12, and in 7th grade (he runs for 8th grade class president, and the winner will take office the next school year.) Alex is evil, yet we sympathize with him. Oliver proclaims his evilness in the title and from the first page on, yet we sympathize with him, even though he is tubby and socially inept. Perhaps we admire Alex because he is articulate and charming. Oliver also possesses insight into the world around him, and wins us over by his astute observations and keen wit (plus, he has most excellent taste - he listens to Tales of Brave Ulysses by Cream and Sweet Jane, presumably from the Rock n Roll Animal album, and he calls Gravity's Rainbow unreadable - thank you, I thought it was just me.)
While Alex must endure society's attempt to "fix" him, and struggles to regain his self (which is purely selfish and completely contemptible) Oliver struggles to assert himself and thrive in an environment which rejects him, and worse, ignores him. He runs for class president as a struggle against these attitudes. Alex deals with his society by rejecting it and caring only for himself. Oliver deals by retreating into his fantasy world, and what a fantasy world it is. Oliver presents himself as the world's third richest man who can fix the Kentucky Derby, have people killed with a word, and, in the interest of becoming class president, overthrow a dictator in Africa.
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