EVIL GENIUS

Carried along by much peeling back of layers of deception and repeated thickenings of plot, this hefty but engrossingly complex tale features a young super-brain being groomed for world domination. Under the tutelage of his mysterious psychologist Thaddeus, 13-year-old Cadel subtly engineered spectacular traffic jams in Sydney, caused all of his high school class to fail their finals and similar exploits. He now enters the exclusive Axis Institute, where innocuously named courses like “Coping Skills” and “Accounting” turn out to be tutorials in basic lying, embezzlement and such. Determined to develop a predictive program for all human behavior, he discovers himself enmeshed in multiple webs of intrigue, which, along with his own efforts to manipulate faculty and fellow students, result in an escalating array of fatalities. Gradually, he begins to wonder whether he’s really cut out for the role of evil overlord. Along with keeping the suspense expertly tuned and stirring in any number of stunning revelations, Jinks fills out the cast with brilliantly conceived friends and adversaries. His emotional maturity realistically lagging behind his intellectual development, Cadel rides right up there with Artemis Fowl as a sympathetic anti-villain. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-205988-0

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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TRASH

In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of...

I HAVE NO SECRETS

A nonverbal teen becomes the “real-life password” to solving a terrible crime in this British import.

Sixteen-year-old Jemma has “no secrets of [her] own.” Quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy, she can’t move or speak and depends on her foster parents and her aide, Sarah, for everything from eating to using the bathroom. But people often share their secrets with her. After all, Jemma can never tell—even when Sarah’s sleazy boyfriend, Dan, hints at his involvement in a recent murder just before Sarah goes missing. But when innovative technology offers Jemma a chance to communicate, can she expose Dan’s secret before he silences her? Despite its suspenseful premise, the plot pales against Joelson’s (Girl in the Window, 2018) intimate, unflinching exploration of Jemma’s character; the book’s most powerful tension lies in Jemma’s simple, direct narration of her unrecognized, uncomfortably realistic frustrations and fears, such as patronizing adults who “don’t realize that [she has] a functioning brain” and her worry that her overwhelmed parents will stop fostering. Refreshingly, the author’s detailed depiction of augmentative and alternative communication explores both the joy of self-expression and the physical and mental effort it requires. Jemma’s bond with her chaotic but supportive foster family grounds the story, particularly her touching rapport with her younger foster brother, Finn, who’s autistic and also nonverbal. Most characters appear white.

Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of “family.” (Suspense. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9336-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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