Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Evil Genius, Catherine Jinks (2005)

Cadel Piggott has gotten into trouble with his recent work which has involved hacking into computers. The police have recommended that Cadel attend sessions with renowned psychologist, Thaddeus Roth, whom has some quite unconventional ideas about what to do with Cadel – teach him to be more like his father, Phineas Darkkon, an evil genius whom had plans to completely change the world. Obviously his adopted parents need to pay some more attention to Cadel than what they currently do, then.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a book as engrossing as this. It’s not because it’s particularly well-written, or that it has beautiful, well-realised characters, or that there are astoundingly intelligent and challenging social or moral ideas here. It’s that the main idea of this is such a hoot – it’s about the son of an evil genius unwittingly working his way in his father’s footsteps, and Jinks manages to fully keep attention throughout the entire book, and manages to do so much with such an engrossing central idea.

Jinks sets up what seems to me to be the typical YA SF teenage protagonist here, but does it quite well. Cadel is extremely intelligent compared to his peers, being a genius and all, but is socially isolated from them – he is not concerned with what they are concerned with, and his interests are completely different to theirs. He also uses his intellect to get his comeuppance against those whom cause problems for him. And although it’s been done numerous times before, such as in Ender’s Game, this sort of character works for me. I don’t know if it works because the general YA SF reader, and myself, can identify with Cadel in some regard, or that the reader wants to read about people that are of above average intellect. Either way, I particularly liked the character of Cadel.

I suppose if I were feeling somewhat more jaded, or had not enjoyed myself so much, that I could find some plot holes to snigger about, point out the coincidences in the book (of which there are few, and it’s the only reason I would mark the book down), or just be a jerk about the entire experience and point out how unrealistic the whole idea of evil geniuses trying to take over the world are. But it’s been quite a while since I have had so much fun reading a book. Sometimes it is nice to read something simple and fun, a nice change from the ponderous and complex brick-thick science fiction that seems to the current trend in SF, and that’s how I would recommend this book 4.5/5.

1 comment:

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