At the local library, I picked up Evil Genius for .50 about 6-7 months ago. I was aware of this book, released in 2005, because there has been a lot of Young Adult books published since the success of Harry Potter that carried the same basic themes of some boy (very rarely, girl) with extra special powers. But this series actually seems to be closer in theme to Artemis Fowl series (featuring an anti-hero) than Harry Potter.
“Cadel Piggott has a genius IQ and a fascination with systems of all kinds. At seven, he was illegally hacking into computers. Now he's fourteen and studying for his World Domination degree, taking classes like embezzlement, misinformation, forgery, and infiltration at the institute founded by criminal mastermind Dr. Phineas Darkkon. Although Cadel may be advanced beyond his years, at heart he's a lonely kid. When he falls for the mysterious and brilliant Kay-Lee, he begins to question the moral implications of his studies for the first time. But is it too late to stop Dr. Darkkon from carrying out his evil plot?”
While not original, this first novel in a trilogy by Australian writer Catherine Jinks, is a bit dark, but engrossing. It draws the reader into exploring the sometimes fine line between good and evil, between giving everything to impress people and not asking any questions as to what they will do with your knowledge (the old “I have no control over the use of my creations. No responsibility” factor). Cadel wants to be the best, he knows he’s the smartest person in the room (in his mind) but he’s still a good person on the inside and learns (way too late) that he’s being exploited and decides to turn the table on the people who would use him for evil.
The book is recommended to teens and up, and I think it’s a good idea to follow that notion, mostly for many instances of death, which I found (bizarrely) treated in a rather facetious way. It makes me wonder in many ways why these types of books are geared towards kids when they have very adult content. It’s not that I’m in way conservative or think books should be banned, but I do think some books blur the line between teens/kids/adults due to the fact that today it is profitable for writers to pen books in this genre.
Then again, this is a great book for folks who think villains (even these James Bond style ones portrayed here) are more fun and interesting than the hero.
Postnote: I will admit I read this book because I knew it would be easy, and that I wanted to add to my list of books read in 2015 to its record high. But now, I guess, I’ll need to read the other two. The more I try to stay away from series books, the more I get dragged back into them.