Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout
Summery from Goodreads:
Trust no one. Every camera is an eye. Every microphone an ear. Find me and we can stop him together.
The Game: Get ready for Zero Hour as 200 geniuses from around the world go head to head in a competition hand-devised by India’s youngest CEO and visionary.
Rex– One of the best programmers/hackers in the world, this 16-year-old Mexican-American is determined to find his missing brother.
Tunde– This 14-year-old self-taught engineering genius has drawn the attention of a ruthless military warlord by single-handedly bringing electricity and internet to his small Nigerian village.
Painted Wolf– One of China’s most respected activist bloggers, this mysterious 16-year-old is being pulled into the spotlight by her father’s new deal with a corrupt Chinese official.
The Stakes: Are higher than you can imagine. Like life and death. Welcome to the revolution. And get ready to run.
This is a fun, fast read. I really enjoyed the diverse cast of characters, not only the main ones, but many of the other geniuses they encounter in the game come from diverse backgrounds. The plot was fast moving as well and interesting. The set up for the game was fascinating and fun to read. The thing I really liked about the books were the drawings. On every page there is a schematic or a drawing or a photo from a video that was used to enhance the story. Some of the doodles helped to keep the characters straight as well, as each characters had certain drawings in the margins when we were seeing the story through their view point.
I found it very easy to relate to each of the characters, they each had unique voices that sounded authentic. All three start off not having met in person, but the camaraderie they shared online is immediately continued when they do meet. The friendship is genuine as well as they try to help each other out. The only thing I found annoying was that Painted Wolf would not give up her true identity even to Rex and Tunde, her very close friends. I guess I understand that, knowing who she is and the things that will happen if anyone figures out who she is, but still I wanted her to trust them enough to keep her biggest secret.
Rex is a great character, funny smart and creative. I enjoyed listening to him work through problems in his head. His determination to find his brother is what draws him to the game no matter the cost and it is what harms him by the end of the book. But I admire his determination even when he is slightly breaking the law.
I really liked Tunde as a character. It was hard to remember at times that he is only 14, mostly because of how smart he was and how quickly he could come up with a concept to help them and then just build it. It was fun to see him using some phrases from his culture as well, and how committed he was to helping his friends and family.
Cai, aka Painted Wolf is awesome and totally badass. I loved her outfits that she used to disguise herself, but I don’t know how she managed to wear a wig all the time without going nuts. Some of the stunts she pulls to help expose corruption in China were insane and it is amazing that she has been able to keep her true self private from everyone.
There is a little bit of crushing between Rex and Painted Wolf, which was adorable and dorky. I love seeing two nerdy geniuses, but cool ones, try to negotiate the romance thing. I really hope that by the end of the series they can spend some series quality time together in that department.
I want to mention just one more character, Kiran Biswas the Indian businessman that put the game together. I can’t quite decide if he is evil or a good guy acting evil to get what he wants. He is a very interesting character and I really look forward to seeing which side of the line he ends up on.
The game was fascinating and intense. I’ve heard of similar competitions, called hackathons, that this one was based on, but usually the participants are working on their own projects that they then hope to sell or promote in some way. Even though the first clue was based in coding and I had no hope of solving it on my own, it was still interesting to watch them figure it out and then go, wow! How did they do that! Some of the tech they use is more advanced than I am currently aware of, but it all sounded plausible to me.
This book came out last year, and I don’t think it has been getting the attention it deserves. I think it would be great for middle-schoolers and even 5th and 6th graders. Book two in the series comes out in a couple of weeks. Look for my review tomorrow for that one. Here is an awesome video about the book: