Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks

Cadel Piggot is a genius. Most humans cannot keep up with his super-fast mind, which makes life pretty lonely for this foster kid. Alienating one foster family after another, he finds comfort in the world of computers and hacking, the only outlet where his intellect is challenged. Eventually Cadel finds himself in a psychologist’s office as punishment for hacking, and is shocked when his therapist advises him, “Next time, don’t get caught.” Turns out, his therapist, Thaddeus Roth, is a minion of Cadel’s real father, Dr. Darkkon, an evil mastermind currently in prison. He and Thaddeus have cooked up a scheme to get Cadel into the Axis Institute for World Domination, a school where kids like Cadel can learn skills far more useful than algebra, like forgery, embezzlement, and explosives. From the outside, the Axis Institute just looks like a school for wayward children, which makes it the miracle Cadel’s social worker has been waiting for.

For Cadel, it seems like a win-win situation – he gets to leave the expectations of his never-satisfied foster families behind, and in exchange he gets to work with souped-up computers and teachers who might be almost as smart as he is… almost. It’s a new world for Cadel, one in which the very skills he’s spent years hiding are the ones he now is encouraged to cultivate. It feels like, in a school where there is a class on lying, he’s finally found a place where he can truly be himself – and that he is, in fact, the Evil Genius of the title. But is he? As time goes on, Cadel realizes that he’s not the only one who excels at deception, and it’s tiring always wondering who he can trust. When he starts to question his own assumptions about who he is and what he wants, his world starts tumbling down.  Catherine Jinks is  an acclaimed YA author currently living in Wales.

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