Evil Genius (The Smartest Kid in the Universe #3)

Evil Genius (The Smartest Kid in the Universe #3)
Age Range
Release Date
May 16, 2023
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Jake McQuade's the smartest kid in the universe—or at least he was. But just as his training with the secret agency known as the Consortium is about to start, Jake's jelly beans go missing! And to make matters worse, they (and Jake's genius!) might be wearing off right when he needs his smarts most!

Jake needs to solve this mystery fast. Who stole the jelly beans and why? Can Jake figure out what's going on, recover the missing jelly beans, and stop a high-tech heist before it's too late?!

From top-secret hideouts to New York City penthouse apartments to the Statue of Liberty in the middle of the night, get ready to go on a whirlwind, wild-ride adventure filled with supervillains and spies, puzzles and pirates, codes and drones, and much, much more—and don't miss the first two books in the series—Smartest Kid in the Universe and Genius Camp!

Editor review

1 review
Super genius vs. super genius
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
As the title says, Jake is considered the smartest kid in the universe, although it’s not public knowledge that revolutionary, newly-created jelly beans are the source of his intelligence. He’s been working with a secret organization called the Consortium that performs covert operations unknown even to the FBI and CIA. Jake wants to do his best for the Consortium so he’s worried when he starts to have trouble remembering critical information. A subplot is a generations-old conflict involving two families and hidden pirate treasure. Jake and his friends found gold and jewels in a previous book and they’re now off to find a huge, orange diamond worth billions of dollars. However, getting their hands on the diamond might be even more important than they thought.
Readers actually know more about what’s going on than the characters themselves, a situation not often seen in plots. The jelly beans are stolen from the scientist’s home and Jake assumes he knows the culprit. However, there are two antagonists working separately to get revenge against Jake and his friends. Both of them are most angry about Jake’s sudden burst of intelligence and they each make plans to get even. These complicated relationships provide ample opportunities for unexpected twists so readers will anxiously make mental predictions about what might happen next.
Being inside Jake’s mind helps readers empathize with his predicament. He’s very concerned that he may lose his intelligence and thus let other people down. The Consortium has put a lot of faith in Jake, and his friends assume he knows everything. The theft of the new, improved jelly beans creates a couple of problems for Jake. Whoever stole them will have access to even greater knowledge than Jake and the theft can’t be reported to the police or FBI. Reporting the truth about Jake’s knowledge coming from the jelly beans will reveal him as a fraud to the Consortium and the authorities plus the inventor will be in trouble too. Jake's intelligence is, in fact, fading away so the big question is how long will he keep it? Will he be smart enough to foil the evil plots that are unfolding?
What didn’t work as well:
For a boy working with a secret organization, it seems everyone knows about Jake’s abilities and exploits. It’s not a huge concern but it strikes me as strange that a boy trying to keep huge secrets and save the world is so recognized by everyone.
The Final Verdict:
This fun adventure of a young genius should appeal to a range of middle-grade readers. Jake’s fading abilities keep him humble and make him less like a perfect super-character and it makes the plot unpredictable. The book can be read independently from the others (although maybe you shouldn’t) and I recommend you give it a shot!
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