Evil Genius (novel)
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Front cover of the novel
|Publisher||Allen & Unwin, Australia|
|Followed by||Genius Squad and The Genius Wars|
The story begins when a young Cadel Piggot is taken to a psychologist due to the fact that he is "different" from regular kids. Meaning he is brilliant with computers and has an IQ that greatly exceeds that of an above average adult man. Because Cadel is a genius, his morality has significant consequences for those around him, and ultimately his use of his intellect destroys his surroundings until, at the last minute, he is saved by a moral code instilled in him by his relationship with a girl named Sonja Pirovic, who has cerebral palsy, although he does not know this or her name at first.
His quest for moral direction is complicated by Phineas Darkkon, an evil genius of sorts whom he is told is his father, and Thaddeus Roth, his psychologist whom the police identify as Prosper English, a notorious criminal and right hand man of Dr. Darkkon, and who later also claims to be Cadel's father.
Cadel Piggot/Darkkon/Roth/English/Cramp: Cadel is a genius, who at the age of 7 is sent to the office of Thaddeus Roth. He later attends the axis Institute and ultimately destroys it. Cadel somewhat resembles the main character, Dexter, from the hit cartoon show Dexter's Laboratory. He is described to have chestnut, curly hair and big baby blue eyes. He is also very short and is often described as being 'girlish' because of his shocking resemblance to his mother. He seems to have a natural affinity for systems or patterns of any kind such as train stations but more specifically computers.
Sonja Pirovic/Kay-Lee McDougall: A girl with cerebral palsy that Cadel met through Partner Post, one of his criminal activities. Although she was acting through another person, her caretaker, she was the person behind the messages. She rivals Cadel in intelligence but in a different field; she specializes in mathematics and cryptography. Most of the correspondence between Cadel and Sonja is through a code of some form typically involving the periodic table. She is also the reason for Cadels sudden change of heart, one that was only triggered through his discovery and curiosity. She is described as having big brown eyes and a brown fringe cut a bit too short.
Thaddeus Roth/Prosper English: Thaddeus plays the part of Cadel's (although he doesn't need it) psychologist for much of the book, encouraging him to nurture his manipulative nature. Throughout the book Thaddeus steers Cadel towards the path of evil, without being too obvious about it. He is a master of manipulation, and easily convinces Cadel that his way is the way to go. It is later found out that his real name is Prosper English, and that he claims to be Cadel's real father. Cadel discovers he is also the murderer of his (Cadel's) mother. He is described as having sleek black hair, and snake like eyes. Tall and slender, he is fit for his age.
Gazo Kovacs: A boy from England and one of Cadel's only friends at the Axis Institute. Gazo does not have the intelligence required to attend the institute, but was recruited for the stench he emits under high stress. Due to his "condition", he is required to wear a protective suit and breathing apparatus at all times, unless he is alone. He also seems to take to Cadel very quickly and will not leave him alone, not even in Hardware Heaven. Gazo assists Cadel in his scheme to rid Axis of certain staff members. He was also the one who alerted Thaddeus to Cadel's kidnapping. He has a knack for prying open car doors.
Phineas Darkkon Cadel's "father" - the founder of the Axis Institute, was imprisoned for various black market-related crimes. He claims to be Cadel's real father, and seems to be working with Dr. Thaddeus Roth. Frog like and sometimes described as being "crazy", he was the husband to Cadels mother (Elspeth) and legal father to Cadel (not biological).
Jemima and Niobe "Gemini" (Jem 'n' Ni): Two of Cadel's classmates at the Axis Institute, who treat Cadel with more fondness than others because of his youth. The two teenagers are identical twins who were brought to the attention of Axis faculty for their techniques in shoplifting. Techniques such as using their "identicalness" to stay in the store after it is lockup time and take what ever they want. Gemini are students in poisoning at the institute.
Com: Com is one of Cadel's classmates in Ulysses "Virus" Vee's class about computers and hacking. He is great at hacking, but does not often speak with other members of the class. In fact, one of the students assumes that Com doesn't even remember how to speak. Cadel occasionally compares him to a machine because has never been spotted leaving his computer. He has a twin sister named Dot.
Stuart and Lanna Piggot Cadel's adopted parents are very well to do, due to the fact that Stuart is a lawyer that just can't resist receiving assets. Though Cadel refers to him as a "Corporate Cog" and says that he cares only about securing assets. Lanna Piggot was a fashion and makeup consultant but later became an interior decorator. Then once Cadel found that she and Stuart were working for Thaddeus, Cadel was then repulsed by them.
The Axis Institute staff
Thaddeus Roth: Thaddeus Roth is the Chancellor of the Axis Institute also the Professor of the School of Deception and teaches two classes in the school of deception - Coping skills (Basic Lying) and Psychology (Manipulation).
Max de Litto/The Maestro: Max de Litto teaches Pragmatic Philosophy (Pure Evil). After fishing around in Max's emails, Cadel decides that Max is a little paranoid and a loner.
Art East: Art East teaches Cultural appreciation (Forgery). At first his class was very challenging for Cadel, but soon enough Cadel overcame this obstacle also.
Barry Deakin/Dr. Deal: "Dr. Deal teaches law (loopholes). He accidentally assaults Cadel in an old men's bathroom and tries to bribe him with money. But after a few exchanges of words Cadel says "I will think about it".
Alias: A master of disguise and teacher of personal presentation (disguise). Alias has been very lonely. According to all of his emails, he is not that liked among the institute's teachers with the exception of Tracey Lane who has dated many other members of the faculty.
Dr. Ulysses "The Virus" Vee: Teacher of Computer Science (Infiltration) has a sty and seems to have absolutely no lifestyle of any kind but he does have a dirty little secret and access to all the teachers' emails which in turn allows Cadel access to those emails.
Reaction to the novel was mixed to positive. The website Strange Horizons said "Jinks never underestimates her audience, and builds a rich and morally complex plot. There are messages in the text but no preaching.". Popmatters, however, stated that "[Jinks’] storytelling falls into implausible valleys at times, but overall, she’s articulate and engaging.".
- 2006 Davitt Award for Crime Fiction (Young Adult)