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Evil Genius

Catherine Jinks


Ages 12 and up

Harcourt, 2005, 978-15-205988-0

  Cadel Pigott is only seven years old when he hacks into his first computer systems. Not knowing what to do with their genius of a son, his adoptive parents follow the advice that the police give them and they take him to a psychologist, Thaddeus Roth, who specializes in brilliant but difficult children. Cadel finds Thaddeus enormously reassuring, for the man seems to understand him. Better still he seems to be in favor of Cadel’s fondness for shady activities. Thaddeus’ most often repeated advice is not “don’t get in trouble” as one would expect. Instead it is “don’t get caught.”

  Then there is the day when Thaddeus announces that he knows who Cadel’s real father is. Cadel has always known that he was adopted. The idea that he might actually find out who his family was is tremendous. When Thaddeus explains that Cadel’s father is none other than the arch criminal Dr. Phineas Darkkon, Cadel doesn’t know what to think. It is just too amazing for words. To be the son of such a brilliant and infamous man!

 Then Cadel begins to have talks with his incarcerated father via a DNA wired transmitter. It turns out that Thaddeus is Darkkon’s right hand man and he keeps in touch with Darkkon on a regular basis, letting him know how his son is doing. Indeed Darkkon has been following Cadel’s progress for years. Darkkon really seems to care about Cadel and Cadel feels wanted for the first time in his life.

  It is only when Thaddeus arranges for Cadel to go to a special college, the Axis Institute, that Cadel begins to fully realize what his father has in store for him. The college is in fact a place where they train people to become arch criminals. The problem for Cadel is that he does not feel that he fits in with all the poisoners, the embezzlers, the would-be murderers, and the other misfits. He has a friend on the outside whom he has met on the Internet, Kay-Lee, who helps him see that there is good in the world and that not everyone is selfish and self-centered. Cadel begins to feel that he no longer wants to play the games that Thaddeus and Darkkon love to play. Cadel just wants to have a normal life. But how can he get away? Can he get away?

  Readers who enjoy thrillers packed with lots of science and high tech background will find this book thoroughly engaging. Not only is the plot full of unexpected twists and turns but there is also the way in which Cadel develops as the story unfolds. When we first meet him he is a very self-centered boy who thinks nothing of wrecking the lives of others as he hacks his way through computer systems. He does not really see people as individuals who matter. But, over time and thanks to Kay-Lee, he becomes more human and he begins to see what he is in danger of becoming.

  Beautifully and very carefully crafted, and full of extraordinary details about computers, mathematics, science, and so much more, this is a book which will keep readers hooked for hours on end.

Evil Genius


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