Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President
by Josh Lieb

Oliver Watson, an overweight 12-year-old from Omaha, NE, fools his family and classmates into thinking that he is slow-witted when in fact he is the world's third-richest person and an evil genius. He overthrows foreign dictators, owns corporations, is a successful inventor and investor, and is on the way to attaining his goal of world domination. His father and arch nemesis is too involved in running a local PBS affiliate to be involved in his son's life. What Oliver really wants is his dad's approval and attention. He decides that the way to get this is to win the election for president of the eighth-grade class at Gale Sayers Middle School.

At first, I found Oliver's snarky tone to be a little obnoxious and almost overwhelming, but as I continued reading, I came to really enjoy this book. It feels very much like the Artemis Fowl that I miss...the pure evil genius from the first book of the series... Oliver begins to hide his genius at a very young age to shelter his unprepared parents, then evolves to hiding his genius to get revenge on his uncaring father. As he makes his way up the world domination ladder, he continues to subconsciously look for approval.

I loved how he continuously looks out for his mother, adores his adopted doggie, pines for the meanest/cutest/pinkest girl in school, and befriends a homeless recovering alcoholic who becomes his "cover." This is all interspersed and contrasted by his actions towards his father, his election opponents, and other threats to his worldwide standing. Though he behaves badly quite a bit, as you read more you begin to see where his motivations come from.

Personally, I loved his snarkiness by the end of the book. I can very much see how this book will appeal to a large audience...there's revenge plots, teens showing up adults, secret codes and lairs, and one teen setting out to rule the world. This book is nominated for our state's book award for seventh and eighth graders...if it wasn't up against something like The Hunger Games, I would have said it had a shot at winning!

PS - If you are looking for an amusing audio book, I'd definitely recommend this one. It was only five CDs long, but the narrator uses distinct voices for each character and it's really well done!!


  1. I still say it's an absolutely awful book. I thought the humor was inane and the character utterly unbelievable. I could accept the unbelievable parts when he's trying to look or sound ridiculous, but how about when he's talking as he really is (evil genius, etc.) and says things like "I like my pajamas with choo choo trains on them"? And I thought the "I did the only thing I could do...I (won't spoil it here)" at the end was the most ridiculous and insulting thing I've ever seen in a book for middle school kids. I thought Lieb talked down to his readers as though they couldn't understand or appreciate anything but the lowest forms of humor.

    But yeah, okay, I'll give you that he does get points for caring about his mother and for helping his cover as much as he used him.

  2. Hmmm...I suppose I read this with the perspective that the target audience is middle school boys and that they really do appreciate (in most cases, wholeheartedly) low-brow humor.
    We'll have to talk some more about this one the next time I see you!