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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, 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. But is it too late to stop Dr. Darkkon from carrying out his evil plot?
An engrossing thriller with darkness and humor, freaks and geeks, Evil Genius explores the fine line between good and evil in a strange world of manipulations and subterfuge where nothing is as it seems.
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Series:||Evil Genius Trilogy Series , #1|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.25(d)|
|Lexile:||720L (what's this?)|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Catherine Jinks grew up in Papua New Guinea and now resides in New South Wales, Australia. She is a three-time winner of the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year award and has received the Centenary Medal for her contribution to Australian children's literature. Her popular works for young readers include the Evil Genius series, The Reformed Vampire Support Group, and the trilogy that began with How to Catch a Bogle. Visit her website at www.catherinejinks.com.
Read an Excerpt
Cadel Piggott was just seven years old when he first met Thaddeus Roth.
Dr. Roth worked in a row house near Sydney Harbor. The house was three stories high, its garden shrouded by a great many damp, dark trees. There was moss growing on its sandstone window ledges. Curtains drawn across all its windows gave it a secretive air. Its front fence was made of iron, with a spike on top of each post; beside the creaking gate was a brass sign bearing Dr. Roth’s name and qualifications.
“That’s it,” said Mrs. Piggott. “Number twenty-nine.”
“Well, we can’t stop here,” her husband replied. “No parking.”
“I told you to park back there.”
“It doesn’t matter. We’ll try down this street.”
“Stuart, that’s a one-way street.”
“I knew we’d never find a space. Not around this area.”
“Just shut up for a minute, will you?”
Mr. and Mrs. Piggott were not Cadel’s real parents. They had adopted him when he was not quite two years old. Mrs. Piggott was thin and blond, Mr. Piggott fat and gray. They almost never agreed about anything, but that didn’t matter because they almost never met. Their busy schedules kept them away from home, and one another, a good deal of the time.
At the suggestion of the police, however, they had both agreed to attend this interview.
“We’re going to be late,” Mrs. Piggott warned her husband after they had circled the block four times in Mr. Piggott’s big, gleaming Mercedes Benz. “Just let us out, for god’s sake.”
“I’ll park here.”
“Stuart, you’ll never fit in there!”
Cadel said nothing. He sat on the backseat, dressed in his good brown cords and a lamb’s-wool sweater, staring out the window at Dr. Roth’s house. He didn’t like the look of it. He thought it had a murky, ominous appearance.
“I don’t want to go,” he said flatly when Mrs. Piggott got out and opened the door beside him.
“I know, honey, but we have to.”
“No we don’t,” Cadel retorted.
“Yes we do.”
“There were no formal charges,” Cadel pointed out, in his high, clear voice. “It was just a suggestion.”
“That’s right,” said Mr. Piggott, yanking Cadel out of the back of the car. “And when the police make a suggestion, you always follow it. Rule number one.”
“Be careful, Stuart, you’ll wreck his clothes.”
Cadel was so small—even for a seven-year-old—that he didn’t stand a chance against Mr. Piggott. Though he dragged his feet and hung off his adoptive parents’ hands like a sack of melons, he was forced across the street and through the front gate of number twenty-nine. The path beyond the gate was mushy with wet leaves. There was a rich smell of decay. The door knocker was a ring in the mouth of a snarling lion’s head, painted black, like the rest of the ironwork.
Cadel noted with interest the switchboard near the door. It was obviously ancient, full of porcelain fuses and dial meters. The Piggotts’ own house was only three years old, with a state-of-the-art electrical system, so Cadel was fascinated by this dusty old relic.
But he was not permitted to gaze at it for long.
“Come on,” Mr. Piggott barked. “The door’s open.” And he pushed against it, causing it to swing back and reveal a long, dark hallway carpeted with dingy Persian rugs. About halfway down this hallway, a staircase the color of walnut swept up to the next floor. There were several doors to the right of the front entrance, but only the closest stood ajar.
“Hello!” said Mr. Piggott, marching straight through it. He wasn’t a man who normally waited for anything. “We’ve an appointment with Dr. Roth. For ten thirty.”
Gripped firmly around the wrist, Cadel had no choice but to follow Mr. Piggott. He found himself in a reception area: two rooms divided by a pair of folding mahogany doors. There were two marble fireplaces and two chandeliers. Cadel noticed cobwebs on the chandeliers.
A woman sat behind an antique desk.
“Good morning,” she said calmly. “What name, please?”
“Piggott,” Mr. Piggott replied, in pompous tones. “Stuart, Lanna, and Cadel.” He looked surprised when the woman rose, revealing herself to be almost as wide and as tall as he was. She had a broad, square face and small blue eyes. She was wearing a suit the color of dried blood.
“I’ll just go and tell Dr. Roth that you’ve arrived,” she declared, before lumbering out of the room. Cadel didn’t watch her go. He was more interested in the computer that she’d left behind, with its alluring glow and contented hum. The screen saver was one that he’d never seen before: a pattern of falling dominoes.
“Don’t even think about it,” Stuart rasped when he realized what was attracting Cadel’s attention. “Sit down. Over there.”
“Look, honey, there are toys for you to play with,” Lanna said, nudging a large basket with the toe of her expensive Italian shoe. Sulkily, Cadel eyed the basket’s contents. He was used to the broken activity centers and torn books offered for the amusement of younger patients at his local doctor’s office and wasn’t hopeful about the distractions provided here.
But to his astonishment, he quickly spied an old voltmeter, together with a book on flies, a plastic human skull (life-sized), a Rubik’s Cube, and a Frankenstein mask. Further investigation uncovered a dead spider embedded in a resin paperweight, a shark’s tooth, a Galaxy Warrior complete with Thermopuncher torpedoes, and a very curious fragment of puzzle bearing the picture of a staring, bloodshot eye over a set of claw marks.
He was puzzling over this macabre image when the sound of heavy footsteps reached his ears. It seemed that Dr. Roth’s receptionist was returning, clumping down the stairs like someone wearing ski boots. Lanna, who had flung herself onto an armchair, immediately jumped to her feet.
Stuart glared at the door.
“Dr. Roth will see you now,” the receptionist announced when she finally appeared. “You can go straight up.”
Stuart and Lanna exchanged glances.
“Are you sure?” Lanna objected. “I mean, does he want to discuss things in front of Cadel?”
“Oh yes,” the receptionist declared firmly. Something about her voice made Cadel look up. He studied her with care, from the top of her permed head to the soles of her brown shoes. She smiled in response, and the Piggotts all recoiled.
Her mouth looked as if it belonged to an older, harsher century.
“Why are your teeth black?” Cadel wanted to know.
“Why are your teeth white?” the receptionist responded, wending her way back to her desk. Lanna snatched at Cadel’s hand and hustled him out of the room. She and her husband whispered together as they climbed the stairs, which creaked and groaned beneath them.
“Stuart, what was the matter with . . . ?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think this is a good idea?”
“Course it is.”
“But what about that woman? Her teeth?”
Stuart shrugged. They had reached a landing, but it wasn’t the right one. From above their heads, a voice said, “Up here.”
A man was draped over the second-floor banisters. He was tall and thin and wore a tweed jacket. His thick, dark hair was going gray.
“That’s the bathroom,” he remarked in a soothing voice with a cultured English accent. “I’m afraid my office is at the top, here.”
“Dr. Roth?” said Stuart.
“We’re a bit late,” Lanna offered a trifle breathlessly. “No parking.”
“You should turn that front yard of yours into a parking lot,” Stuart added, climbing the last flight of stairs. Gracefully, Dr. Roth moved to push open the door of his office.
“I would,” he said, “if the local council would let me. Heritage listing, I’m afraid.”
Stuart grunted. Lanna smiled a meaningless social smile. They both passed into Dr. Roth’s office ahead of Cadel, who stopped on the threshold. He gazed up at Thaddeus.
“Why does she have black teeth?” Cadel inquired.
“Wilfreda? I’m not sure,” Thaddeus replied. “Poor dental hygiene, I should think. Her parents had very strange ideas about diet and doctors. Maybe they didn’t believe in toothbrushes, either.” He cocked his head. “So you’re Cadel.”
“Come in, Cadel.”
Dr. Roth’s office surprised Cadel, because it was full of modern furniture and computer equipment. There were a number of glossy cabinets, some full of filing drawers, some with cables running out of them. Cadel’s eyes gleamed when he spotted those cables.
“Sit down, please.” Dr. Roth gestured at a cluster of couches placed between his desk and a pair of French doors. Lanna chose the crimson couch, settling down onto it very carefully, her bare knees drawn together. Stuart dropped into his seat like a stone.
“We brought this referral . . .” said his wife, passing an envelope to Dr. Roth. Thaddeus opened it, removed a folded sheet of paper, and smoothed the paper flat without taking his eyes off Cadel, whose attention was fixed on a modem attached to an inline filter.
“The police suggested we arrange some counseling for Cadel,” Stuart explained. “They also suggested that he shouldn’t be allowed to use a computer except under supervision. Responsible supervision.”
“He’s far too young to understand,” added Lanna, smoothing down her short skirt. “His emotional maturity hasn’t caught up with his intellect.”
“He has a genius IQ,” said her husband gruffly. “We had him tested.”
“It’s not his fault. We would have said something if we’d known what he was up to.”
“He’s not a bad kid.”
Thaddeus raised an eyebrow. By this time he was glancing through the referral, nodding to himself. When he had finished, he refolded the paper and tucked it into his jacket pocket. “Right,” he said, then cleared his throat. “Cadel? Would you like to use my computer?”
Cadel whirled around. Stuart and Lanna both gasped.
“But he can’t!” Stuart spluttered.
“He’s not allowed!” Lanna cried.
“Oh, I think he’ll be all right,” said Dr. Roth. “I’ll be interested to see if he does make a nuisance of himself. There’s some very tough security software installed on that computer.” He smiled indulgently at Cadel. “Knock yourself out, kid.”
While Cadel scuttled over to the desk, his adoptive parents looked at each other in dismay. Dr. Roth sank into the couch opposite them, his long, bony hands pressed together under his beaky nose. “So,” he began, “Cadel has been hacking into high-security computer networks, is that it?”
“The power grid,” Stuart interrupted. “And a bill-paying service.”
“He likes the challenge,” said Lanna, sounding worried. “I’m sure that’s it. He’s bored at school.”
“He knows he shouldn’t have,” Stuart growled, “but I don’t think he’s aware—”
“That it’s against the law,” his wife interjected, at which point Stuart turned on her.
“I was going to say that he’s probably not aware of the full implications, if you’d let me get a word in edgewise,” he snapped. “It’s not against the law—not when you’re seven years old. That’s the whole point. You can’t charge a kid of his age.”
“But the police thought that measures ought to be taken in any case,” Dr. Roth remarked smoothly. “I understand. And may I ask whether you’ve discussed these matters with the school he attends? What’s it called?”
“Elphington Grammar,” Lanna supplied. “We live on the North Shore, you see.”
“They’ve expelled him,” Stuart said flatly. “Don’t want him there. Too much like hard work, designing special programs for a genius.”
“So we’ve enrolled him in Jamboree Gardens. They believe in small classes, and they nurture potential on an individual basis.”
“It’s one of those tree-hugger schools,” Stuart concluded, without much enthusiasm.
Again Thaddeus nodded. In the brief silence that followed, the click-clack of a hardworking computer keyboard filled the room. Cadel sat perched on Dr. Roth’s chair, his small feet dangling, his gaze fixed.
“Can you tell me anything else about your son that might be useful?” Thaddeus said at last, and Lanna leaned forward.
“We’re not his birth parents,” she revealed in a low voice. “If that matters. He knows, of course.”
“This wouldn’t have happened if his nanny hadn’t left.” Stuart sighed. “No supervision.”
“Why did his nanny leave?” Dr. Roth queried, whereupon Stuart rubbed the back of his neck in obvious discomfort.
This time Lanna’s voice was so low that it was barely a whisper.
“He used to charge things to her credit card. She used it so much that of course he picked up on it.”
“He’s a funny kid,” Stuart admitted. “He’s not normal.”
“Well, he’s not. You can’t pretend he is.”
But Cadel didn’t seem to be listening. He was peering at the computer screen, his lips pursed, his brow furrowed.
“You know what he said to me the other day?” Stuart continued. “Lanna and I had been arguing—”
“We don’t often argue,” his wife broke in, smiling nervously at Thaddeus. “You’re giving Dr. Roth the wrong idea, honey.”
Stuart snorted. “Yeah, well, whatever you say. Anyhow, he looked me straight in the eye, and he said, ‘You’re like a malfunctioning modem with her. You need to locate the right initialization string.’” Stuart blinked. “Can you believe that?”
His wife tittered. “Oh dear,” she said. “That is so Cadel.”
“He carries the strangest things around with him,” Stuart went on. “Not yo-yos or rubber frogs or stuff like that. He carries circuit boards and thermostats and ignition coils. God knows where he gets them.”
“Out of my computer.” Lanna grimaced, her face falling suddenly. “That’s where he gets them. Or he dismantles the security system.”
“We have a circuitry room,” Stuart confessed. “It controls the security system and the phone system and the air conditioning—”
“We can never get him out of there.”
“Half the time, when you turn on the television, the garage door opens.”
“Whatever kind of lock you put on that damned circuitry room, he always cracks it sooner or later.”
“Like you said, Lanna, he can’t resist a challenge.”
All three adults turned their heads to study Cadel, who ignored them. He looked just like a little angel, with his huge blue eyes, chestnut curls, and heart-shaped face.
“We were wondering if he was a bit autistic”—Lanna sighed—“but he’s not. We checked it out. He’s just not very interested in people.”
“Especially other kids,” said Stuart. “Well, what other kids anywhere near his age are going to be interested in information protocol settings?”
“Quite,” said Thaddeus. “And what do you hope to gain from having Cadel visit me here, Mr. and Mrs. Piggott?”
“Well . . .” Lanna cast a hopeless glance at her husband, who shrugged.
“We’re just doing what we’re told,” he mumbled. “So this whole business won’t happen again.”
“Perhaps you can teach Cadel some social skills?” Lanna proposed brightly. “Help him to understand that he can’t do whatever he wants just because he’s smarter than everyone else?”
“Because he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else,” Stuart amended. And he narrowed his eyes, his jaw muscles working.
Thaddeus surveyed him thoughtfully
“Ye-e-es,” said Thaddeus. “I see.” All at once he surged to his feet, taking Mr. and Mrs. Piggott by surprise. “Well, thank you very much for that input,” he remarked pleasantly. “You’ve been most helpful. I’ll keep it in mind when I talk to your son—it might be interesting to have some more tests done, but I’ll discuss that with you later. Could you give me, say, twenty minutes? Twenty minutes alone with Cadel? It should be enough for today.”
“You mean now?” said Stuart.
“If that’s all right with you.”
“Well, I . . . I guess so.”
“If it’s all right with Cadel,” said Lanna. “Cadel? Honey? Do you mind if we step outside for a few minutes? Dr. Roth wants to talk to you.”
There was no reply. Cadel didn’t appear to have registered the fact that Lanna was addressing him.
“He won’t even notice we’re gone,” her husband muttered. “You watch.”
“We’ll be right downstairs, honey. We won’t be far.”
“You’d think he was deaf,” Stuart complained. As he nudged his wife from the room, she threw Dr. Roth a toothy smile.
“He’s not deaf, actually,” she assured the psychologist. “We’ve had tests done . . .”
Bang! The door slammed shut. Thaddeus waited until he could no longer hear the tramp of feet on stairs before strolling over to where Cadel sat in the typist’s chair. Cadel ignored him. Suddenly, Thaddeus yanked at the chair, making it spin around until it was pointing toward him. Then he grabbed each armrest and leaned into Cadel’s face.
Cadel’s hands jumped up in a startled reflex.
“I’ll make a deal with you, Cadel,” said Thaddeus. “Can you keep a secret?”
Solemnly, Cadel nodded.
“Good. Then this is what we’ll do. If you don’t tell your parents about it, I’ll let you use my computer whenever you come here. Does that sound good?”
Again, Cadel nodded.
“And all I ask in return is this.” The corner of Thaddeus’s mouth rose, revealing one yellowish, pointed canine tooth. Through the lenses of his spectacles, his eyes were as black as a snake’s. His voice dropped to a throaty whisper. “Next time,” he murmured, “whatever you do, don’t get caught.”
What People are Saying About This
* As the complex deceptions that have shaped Cadel's life come to light, his emotional unraveling and awakening will likely engross readers."Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "Jinks fills out the cast with brilliantly conceived friends and adversaries . . . Cadel rides right up there with Artemis Fowl as a sympathetic anti-villain."Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Whiplash-inducing suspense writing will gratify fans of Anthony Horowitz's high-tech spy scenarios."Booklist, starred review
* "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...Jinks fills out the cast with brilliantly conceived friends and adversaries. His emotional maturity realistically lagging behind his intellectual development Cadel ides right up there with Artemis Fowl as a sympathetic anti-villain." --Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2007 - starred review)
* “As an alternative thriller that shows the good side of evil, Jinks sets up a compelling world of lies, deceit, and betrayal that will have lovers of mystery or computer-based investigation on the edge as they devour this page-turner.”--School Library Journal 7/1/07 (starred)
* "Jinks has created an intricate, well-constructed and layered reality in this hefty novel, and as the complex deceptions that have shaped Cadel's life come to light, his emotional unraveling and awakening will likely engross readers." --Publishers Weekly (April 2, 2007 - starred review)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Cadel Piggot is one smart boy...and without access to a computer, he doesn't know what to do. Catherine Jinks is defintely going to thrill you in this 1st book in the series as you begin to explore the secrets of Cadel Piggot.Highly recommended...defintely for excelling redaers above the age of 12 unless completely smart and word-knowing.
Whether you are thirteen or thirty-three, Evil Genius is a book that can't be put down! Though it is part of a three-part series, Evil Genius is written in such a way that the reader can read it alone, or with the other books, although I recomend reading it alone as the next two books pale in comparison to the first. This ia great read that is fun and enticing, so bring it with you wherever you go! Shove it in your purse, backpack or under the seat in your car and read it in the dirve-thru line, at school between classes, or on your lunch break at work because Evil Genius won't let you sleep until you've completed it.
I love this book. I ended up reading it in 2 days.Catherine Jinks is a genius. :)
This book was so much more sophisticated and engrossing than I expected. Definitely a book for adults too. Really awesome, fun, and in-depth.
Along with this book comes the idea of a new, complex kind of science and the unreal idea that there is an evil 'school' of sorts that encourages cruelty. A very different look upon the side of us that no one wants to see.
This author writes wonderful stories that are engaging and interesting. A person can actually learn a few things while reading and not even realize it! I find that books written for young adults contain more imagination and humor than those directed at adults. It's refreshing to read a story that is also intelligent. I recommend anything Jinks has written and wait impatiently for more to come.
I think this book is excellent! I,simply, couldn't put it down. Evil Genius starts off one way, but has an intresting twist. You, really, must read it.
Cadel dosnet know whos side he on just to do good or evil
I am an adult reader and overall I did really enjoy this book. It is funny and entertaining. It's easy to get into the story and care about what happens to the main characters. It was also a quick read despite the length. Definitely great for YA readers and anyone who likes comics, Sci-fi, or superheroes... err villians.
I love this book sooooo much. Favorite book ever. I read it like 50 times.......
I was kept mildly entertained throughout the entire story. I believe the concept of it all is what made me so interested in reading it everyday. It looked into things that I know are illegal but yet I'm strangely very attracted to it. Bombs, conspiracy, hacking, deception, it all just clicked. Especially the whole psychological aspect of it, when Cadel knew that he was being watched but tried to keep his composure and act normal. It is so cool. I might just sound like a complete maniac but this book made me see how COOL being evil could be. Even with all this, however, I found that the story became very confusing and hard to follow at times. I felt as if I had skipped a chapter, but I realized that I was right where I was supposed to be. The whole conflict between characters at the end is what threw me off. I tried to understand what was going on but I simply couldn't. Well, maybe I'm not such a genius myself for not understanding such a complex story. I admire the author for her creativity in producing such a thrilling mind-blowing novel, even if some of us simple-minded are incapable of comprehending it all too well. Dr. Darkkon must despise me!
This series is exceptional! I just finished Genius Wars and cannot stop thinking about it. This series presents such an interesting concept and dilema...I have never read anything like it before. What makes the series so interesting is the fact that Cadel has been warped by the deception under which he has been raised. Readers get to watch as he struggles to overcome his mistrusting mindset. I found myself not trusting every single situation in the book...that is how strong the psychology woven throughout this series is. Prosper makes a terrifying antagonist, and yet you remain convinced that he can't actually harm Cadel because, despite what each may tell himself, Cadel and Prosper care for one another. This is a great series which explores relationships and psychology in a phenomonal way. As for Evil Genius alone, it is probably my least favorite of the books, which I think is because of two reasons. First, as this is the first book of the trilogy, I was not entirely invested in the characters yet. Second, this one gets pretty slow in the middle. Nonetheless, this series is an absolute must read!!!
Im almost done with this book it is the bomb literally there is some bomns in the story sooo this book is rrally cool and i cant wait to star reading the next one coolbiz out
This book has a Great concept and Amazing characterzation! The main character is the son of an evil genius, though he doesnt see himself that way and nieghther does his son. Though his father is in jail he still has resources to create a school for his son and other evil geniuses like him. The main character then faces many hard decisions and mind blowing problems (sometimes literally!!) Why i put this book at only 4 stars is i found the story in some parts had almost too many details and lacked big action scenes. But over all a very entertaining, and fresh read! If you liked this book check out The Limit ( p.s. i never wrote the main characters name because i didnt like it)