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

Smartest Kid in the Universe #3: Evil Genius (The Smartest Kid in the Universe)
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Release Date
May 16, 2023
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Meet middle schooler Jake McQuade. Jake became the smartest kid in the universe when he accidentally ate a jarful of ingestible knowledge jelly beans. But what happens when those jelly beans fall into the wrong hands?!

Readers who enjoy the action of the Last Kids on Earth books will love this fast-paced, spy-packed series that's a "rollicking good time" (New York Times) by the bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library!

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
Smart Kid, Silly Choices!
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Jake, who managed to snarf down a lot of Coach Farooqi's Ingestible Knowledge jelly beans in The Smartest Kid in the Universe and to use the incredible knowledge gained from them to thwart evil doers in Genius Camp, has a problem. He feels like his super smarts are fading, and he doesn't want to go back to the boring obscurity of his old life. He tells his mother to go to Disney World with his sister without him, while he has more assessments done by Marie Double at the consortium. Coach Farooqi, who might be the most disorganized scientist ever, hasn't been completely successful in replicating the beans, so if Jake's abilities disappear, he's in trouble. Of course, with 8th grade starting, Jake as well as his friend Kojo also have to worry about the new school year. Thanks to friend Grace Garcia, whose family treasures were taken back from the evil Hubert Huxley and his family, the school has been renovated, and the 8 million dollar Red Lion jewel is on display to remind people who funded the changes. Since Jake put together the security system, it should be impenetrable, but that doesn't stop people from trying. When Farooqi's newest batch of trial IK beans are stolen, clues point to the evil Zane Zinkle, who was unhappy that Jake's intelligence passed his own. Of course, with Hubert at their school now, since his father is in jail, suspicion falls on his as well. When it comes to light that Grace's ancestors hid an even bigger treasure, the three pound, orange la Gran Calabaza diamond, everyone turns their attention to finding it. Hubert's grandmother enlists Jake's help anonymously, figuring that once it is found, she will steal it. When the Consortium takes a turn to the dark side, Jake starts to question everything he knows. Will he be able to keep the diamond safe, determine if his super smarts will stay, AND find out which organizations are good, and which are evil?

Good Points
Like Ponti's City Spies or Gibbs' Spy School books, this is full of improbably scenarios that will delight young readers who think it is perfectly possible that they will lie to their parents and sneak off on dangerous international spy missions! It offers worthy adveraries of varying abilities, bumbling adults who could be so much more helpful, and a quest that only our protagonist can solve. There's lots of action and adventure, and the short chapters will mean that the pages are turned very quickly.

Jake is an engaging Every Kid who finds himself in an unusual situation. He is enjoying his new life, and fears that he might not be up to his tasks if the IK beans wear off. This anxiety about capabilites is something that many middle grade readers feel, if only abou their ability to survive dodge ball, so it makes Jake's unlikely exploits seem relatable. Kojo is a fun sidekick, but I wonder if any middle grade readers will get his classic television references (Kojak?McGyver? Maybe it will spark some research.)

James Patterson's imprint is filled with books with strong kid appeal, and Grabenstein is one of the strongest writers in his stable, with his Jacky Ha-Ha series, Dog Crew books, and fantastic Wonderland Motel adventures. The Smartest Kid in the Universe is a smart purchase for fun summer reading.
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