A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Though the book is mostly negative with regard to how other students, teachers, and Oliver's parents are characterized, it is clear that Oliver is just looking for approval from his father and his good heart wins out in the end.
Positive Role Models
Oliver is truly an evil genius. He uses money and intimidation to pull strings behind the scenes, but pretends to be slow in public. When he describes other people, it is always in a derisive way. Tatiana is a bully with a sweet side, befriending and dominating Oliver. Oliver's mother is portrayed as dumb and it's hard for Oliver to even admit that he loves her. His father is self-involved and unimpressed with the family. Teachers are either desperate to be popular and easily controlled, or ignorant and shrill. Sheldrake, the hired face of Oliver's empire, is a recovering alcoholic and the lone voice of reason and fatherly advice in Oliver's ear, though Oliver completely intimidates and humiliates him.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of pranks directed at students and teachers and meant to be funny: darts that give gas, chemicals that give colds and rashes, a threatening dog, the air let out of tires, and violent dodgeball. Plus a kidnapping where a kid is strung up to play a Guitar Hero-like video game and a bomb dentonates but no one is hurt.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Liz has "developed early" and the book mentions that this is one reason she is the Most Popular Girl in School.
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A lot of mostly mild language is used ("fatso," "jumbo," "stupid," "dork," "turd," "crap," "butthead," and "boobs"), as well as a couple of instances of stronger words like "damn," "ass," and "slut." "Slut" is used in passing when the book talks about the fact that Liz has developed early, but she has escaped the negative label that is sometimes applied to girls like her.
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Products & Purchases
Some brands are briefly mentioned: ChapStick, Fruit Roll-Ups, Fluffernutter,7-Eleven, Big Gulp, Rolls Royce, Elmer's glue, and No Frills market. Captain Beefheart figures prominently as Oliver's favorite musician. Oliver plays a video game similar to Guitar Hero, but it is not called by any name. Other bands, such as the Jonas Brothers, Cream, and Lynyrd Skynyrd are mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One teacher smokes cigarettes, but it is clear that smoking is supremely uncool. Sheldrake is a recovering alcoholic and attends AA.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that they'll find lots of pranks against students and teachers in this book, as well as plenty of sarcastic quips and negative words for others. But that's the brand of humor in this first kids book by one of the Daily Show executive producers, and in the end the book and the evil genius-main character show some heart.
Is It Any Good?
I AM A GENIUS OF UNSPEAKABLE EVIL AND I WANT TO BE YOUR CLASS PRESIDENT is funny and outlandish. Kids will love the dynamics of Oliver's double life as a tough, successful billionaire and a chubby, hapless dimwit. At the heart of it, Oliver just wants his father's love, but on his own terms, not as a reward for his supreme intelligence.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.