Monday, November 22, 2010

The Genius Wars by Catherine Jinks

4/5 Stars

The story takes us into the life of Cadel Greenaius, a boy genius who, from an early age, was brought up in a society where using his unique gifts to help a criminal empire was the only life he knew. Once thought to be the son of Prosper English, a feared crime boss who’s empire had its hands in every dirty secret around the world. Times have changed and Prosper is now in prison, far away enough from Cadel that he can finally have some semblance of a normal life.

The story brings us to Australia where Cadel and his friends are attending school. Cadel is trying to figure out a way to help Sonja, his best friend who has cerebral palsy and also a former member of the Genius Squad, to deal with day to day difficulties. Such things as pressing a button to the elevator or pushing the button to open handicap doors. While attending class with Hamish (also a member of the dissolved Genius Squad) he is whisked out of class. The reader is introduced to Detective Inspector Saul Greenaius, who at one time was assigned to protect Cadel and has now become his foster father. Saul brings Cadel grave news with him; Prosper has broken out of prison and is on the loose. Cadel is shown numerous sightings of Prosper all around the country, but soon realizes that it is only a program designed to make it seem as though he is in places that he is not. Cadel is taken to a safe house while the threat subsides. Soon afterwards he is taken out of protection to be back with his friends at school when Sonja’s wheelchair is set on a crash course aimed to attack Cadel. Sonja is taken immediately to the hospital where she is treated for numerous injuries that include a broken leg.

Time passes with knowledge that Dr. Vee, a former teacher of Cadel’s at the Axis Institute, has been tracking Cadel and those who are close to him through the CCTB surveillance cameras. This forces those around him as himself to disguise one another in ridiculous outfits. This is because of being tracked by the measurements of their bodies, rather than the person as a whole, essentially hiding from Vee and others who are working for him. It shows the reader just how much danger is posed to the world with so much technology that if it falls into the wrong hands, which it has, what can ensue and potentially destroy countless lives.

Cadel and Saul, with the help of old friends and new faces, battle back against Proper’s goons and take the fight to them with plans to find out who has been tracking them so far within Australia itself. Disaster strikes hard when a rogue school bus crashes into Cadel’s home, sending Saul to the hospital and turning everything and everyone upside down. Cadel decides it’s time to take matters into his own hands and takes off to America to track down a source that might just lead him in the right direction. He finds himself in Lost Angeles and where he meets Kale Platz; one time saviour of Cadel, from the FBI. Kale brings him to a seaside estate where Cadel’s greatest fears are confronted for the final showdown.

Those who have read the previous books (which I have not) will enjoy the cat and mouse chase between both sides of the spectrum and the reuniting of former associates that have played integral parts in Cadel’s life. The bond that is created between the reader and certain characters within the story brings us ever closer to the action and pain which is shared equally between each of them. The finale of what I assume to be a great series leaves us with one final mystery that keeps the reader craving for more answers from the life of Cadel Greenaius.

Michael S.

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