Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Is it possible to cultivate readers' affection for a character who has been trained from his tenderest years to dismiss evil as a 'loaded word"? Australian writer Jinks, author of the Crusades-era Pagan series, successfully meets the challenge in this very different novel. She devises gradations of wrongdoing so steep that her antihero's adversaries leave him (almost) smelling like a rose. At age seven, child prodigy Cadel Piggott lands in a shrink's office for illegal computer hacking, where psychologist Thaddeus Roth delivers startling counsel: 'Next time, don't get caught." Thaddeus is an agent of Cadel's real father, a brilliant crook who, from behind bars, manages to place Cadel at the secretive Axis Institute for World Domination. By 13, Cadel is earnestly studying 'Infiltration, Misinformation, and Embezzlement," but as he increasingly relies on an outside friendship, he privately plots to extricate himself from the paterfamilias.Comic-book fans will enjoy the school's aspiring villains (including one who floors foes with deadly B.O.), but this is more than a campy set-piece. Cadel's turnabout is convincingly hampered by his difficulty recognizing appropriate outlets for rage, and Jinks' whiplash-inducing suspense writing will gratify fans of Anthony Horowitz's high-tech spy scenarios. Although some of the technical concerns of evil geniuses (firewalls, tax shelters, nanotechnology) may stymie less-patient readers, most will press on, riveted by the chilling aspects of a child trapped in adult agendas that, iceberglike, hide beneath the surface.--Mattson, Jennifer Copyright 2007 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
With a series of breakneck twists and turns, Jinks's (the Pagan Chronicles) latest novel follows Cadel Piggott, a seven-year-old Australian boy with an incredible mind and a proclivity toward mischief: "He loved systems: phone systems, electrical systems, car engines, complicated traffic intersections." Following a string of disasters, which Cadel engineers (e.g., hacking into the city's power grid), his desperate adoptive parents take him to a psychologist, Dr. Thaddeus Roth. But instead of refocusing Cadel on more positive activities, Dr. Roth encourages the boy to develop increasingly destructive plans, such as orchestrating massive traffic jams and manipulating his classmates' emotions so that they turn on one another. Dr. Roth also stuns Cadel by revealing that he is employed by Cadel's birth father, Dr. Phineas Darkkon, a criminal mastermind serving a life sentence. From prison, Dr. Darkkon established the Axis Institute for the world's genetically talented and criminally inclined. Drs. Roth and Darkkon convince Cadel to join its small freshman class, and Cadel slowly uncovers a conspiracy of lies and betrayals that leave no aspect of his life untouched. Jinks has created an intricate, well-constructed and layered reality in this hefty novel, and as the complex deceptions that have shaped Cadel's life come to light, his emotional unraveling and awakening will likely engross readers. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 7-10-Catherine Jink's complex and lengthy novel (Harcourt, 2007) about Cadel Piggott, a young prodigy working toward his degree in World Domination at the Axis Institute, is fully voiced by Justine Eyer in this overly ambitious production. Set in Australia, with characters from New Jersey, England, and Germany and an American narrator, the varying accents stretch listeners and readers beyond their comfort zones, although the reading does become more fluid as the book progresses. The choice of a female narrator for this title, which includes mostly male characters, is odd. Several of the evil men sound more like agitated, annoying playground bullies. The drawn-out story line covers seven years and involves nearly the entire staff of Axis as they undermine and plot against each other, while Cadel works against them. The cast of characters becomes muddled in the listening, and is easier to keep up with in the print version where readers can flip back to check previous passages. Listeners looking for a tale of young prodigies at school or crime and espionage novels would do better with Stewart Trenton's The Mysterious Benedict Society (Listening Library, 2007) and Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series.-Kelly Vikstrom, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.