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Genius Squad

Review

Genius Squad

Cadel Piggott returns in this action-filled sequel to EVIL GENIUS, but he’s not the same teen. The Cadel readers knew in the first book loved to create havoc just for the fun of it. However, after his life-threatening experiences at the Axis Institute with his father, Prosper English, he just wants to be a good person --- and even happy. He is helped in this change of conscience by his best friend, the paraplegic math genius, Sonja. In GENIUS SQUAD, other allies help fight Prosper and his evil, but he also finds more layers of enemies and surprises.

Cadel has an earnest social worker named Fiona who tries to protect him in a new foster home. He can go nowhere without police protection, though, as authorities are aware that Prosper once tried to kill him. He is now a key witness to the evils that went on at the Axis Institute and to Prosper’s many illegal activities. Prosper is behind bars, though Cadel knows that barrier is nothing to another genius like himself and has seen the lengths to which Prosper will go. But he still feels that he’s safe; after all, Prosper did not kill him when he had the chance before.

Prosper is always good at making trouble, and he is now denying that he’s Cadel’s father. This means that Cadel has no father on record, and with a dead mother, no citizenship in any country. So he cannot leave Australia, though the country will not recognize him. He is not allowed to take classes of any kind and is desperately bored. The foster home is run by well-meaning parents, but they are also the caretakers for a couple of other children, including the bully Mace. While Cadel tries hard to stay on the path of good, Mace pushes his buttons too far, and he develops a strategy to hurt him while still looking innocent. Mace promises revenge.

In the meantime, the very smart and stubborn Detective Saul Greeniaus has been assigned to Cadel’s case and stops by frequently to give him updates on Prosper’s situation and how it may affect him. When visiting Sonja one day, Cadel is approached by some adults who run the new Clearview House, a cover for Genius Squad, a group of gifted teens who will work to bring down GenonMe, a company linked to the deceased P. Drakkon and his minions, which included Prosper. They offer Sonja and Cadel $50,000 each and a home while they work on the computer hacking and coding with the other teens to find out what happens at GenonMe and who is behind it. The money and offer of living with Sonja are too good to pass up; the cash would buy Sonja good care well into the future. The problem is that they cannot tell Fiona or the detective. So Cadel begins a secret life again, but this time he seems to be working for good.

As the team works to bring down GenonMe, Prosper gets more active, even from prison. Cadel has to stay on his guard and trust his new allies to keep himself and Sonja safe.

GENIUS SQUAD is even more fun than EVIL GENIUS as Cadel Piggott is more likable when he is working for good. His new allies and friends add another layer of good guys to root for as well. The evil of Prosper English knows no bounds, even with the Axis Institute demolished. Without that school, it is harder to identify his helpers, despite clues throughout the book. The spy games and suspense are complicated at times, but the surprises will inspire readers to keep turning pages right until the end, when the next installment in the series is unveiled.

Reviewed by Amy Alessio on May 1, 2008

Genius Squad
by Catherine Jinks

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2008
  • Genres: Thriller
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • ISBN-10: 0152059857
  • ISBN-13: 9780152059859