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Genius Squad    by Catherine Jinks order for
Genius Squad
by Catherine Jinks
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Genius Squad is the sequel to Evil Genius, which introduced young criminal mastermind Cadel Piggot. In that first episode, he was raised as an evil genius but matured to see the error of his ways - helped by his close friend and conscience Sonja Pirovic, a talented mathematician who suffers from cerebral palsy - and brought down the Axis Institute for World Domination. Now Dr. Phineas Darkkon has died and Prosper English (who claimed to be Cadel's dad) is in jail, Cadel having agreed to testify against him. Cadel has been placed in foster care and is under constant police surveillance.

But Cadel's foster home is unsatisfactory, despite the kindness of the foster parents. He has only very limited daily computer access; has nothing to do as regular schools have little to teach him and university attendance cannot be arranged; and is bullied by Mace. He also has few opportunities to visit Sonja, and worries about her institutional living situation. Then they are approached by Trader, posing as a social worker, who offers both Cadel and Sonja the opportunity to move to Clearview House (which cleverly masquerades as a group home) and work with the Genius Squad to investigate GenoME (a company set up by Darkkon that offers a gene-mapping service) on behalf of billionaire Rex Austin.

Anxious to improve his own situation - and even more important, Sonja's - Cadel moves, despite his distaste for the need to lie to his kind social worker Fiona Currey and fatherly detective Saul Greeniaus (assigned to protect him). At Clearview House, Cadel and Sonja work hard with other supersmart teens in a secret War Room, where Cadel's hacking talent quickly pays off. But all is not what it seems on the surface. The action soon picks up with betrayal, jailbreak, kidnapping, and a thrilling chase. Cadel learns more about his parentage, and he and Sonja end up with better lifestyles. I look forward to the next episode in this brilliant series, The Genius Wars.

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