*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
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* "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