The Genius Academy turns out to be about more than dull classwork, as a lonely young inventor discovers.
Unable, despite her mother’s earnest pleas, to stop concocting devices like the death ray that blows a hole through the floor, Nikola reluctantly agrees to be shipped off to a (supposed) boarding school for geniuses. Hardly has she arrived, though, than the death ray is stolen and Nikki discovers that she and her six classmates are actually a team of secret agents employed to save the world on a regular basis. Fortunately, the young folk are an unusually talented bunch. Unfortunately, Nikki has a lot to learn about teamwork, trust, and friendship before the trail of clues dropped by the thief leads to a tense and twisty climax. Cleverly modeling her preteen cast on a gallery of historical geniuses, Keating has done her homework: Nikki reflects her near namesake not only in her work on electrical inventions, but also in other respects from eidetic memory to deep-seated distrust of others. Likewise, her associates include sharply observant Mary Shelley, musical and math prodigy Adam “Mo” Mozart, biology whiz Charlotte Darwin, and multiskilled Leo da Vinci. The white default is in place, but the kids’ adult overseer has dark skin, and in Marlin’s illustrations so do Mo and charismatic team leader Grace O’Malley.
Full STEAM ahead on a series debut equally charged with personal issues and science in (dramatic) action. (author’s note) (Science fiction. 10-13)