I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President

 
(i)

 

Daily Show producer delivers pranks and yuks.

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

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

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.

Sex

Liz has "developed early" and the book mentions that this is one reason she is the Most Popular Girl in School.

Language

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.

Consumerism

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.

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.

What's the story?

Oliver is a 12-year-old genius and one of the richest people in the world. He lives undercover as a below-average student with his air-headed, coddling mother and self-involved father. When he's still a baby, Oliver sees that his father will only love him \ if he's intelligent. He doesn't want his intellect to be the feather in his father's filial cap, so he pretends to be dim and ridiculous. When his father fondly reminisces about his own election to the office of class president, Oliver decides to rob his father of his good memories by showing him that any idiot can become class president. Oliver proceeds to use intimidation, money, and blackmail in order to try to win the election.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about father/son relationships. Oliver could have anything he wanted, but why was this election so important to him?

  • Why do you think Oliver didn't want "Daddy" to know the truth about his life as an evil genius?

  • Do you think Oliver hated "Daddy" as much as he said he did?

  • What was Oliver's motivation for trying to win the election?

Book details

Author:Josh Lieb
Genre:Humor
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Group
Publication date:October 13, 2009
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Read aloud:10
Read alone:10

This review of I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President was written by

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Learning ratings

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byparents November 20, 2009
 

Not worth anyone's time when there are so many great books on the shelves!

Story about an awful child without a moral conscience. Our entire family was listening to this book on tape and after listening to more than 2/3's everyone from the 13 year old to the 9 year, felt compelled to turn it off. Evil is really not attractive.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent Written bySarah Gilbert November 19, 2012
 

Shame on teachers...if that's you, shame on you!

Ok, so I couldn't answer the above question correctly because they did not give me the choice of not appropriate or under age content. I chose language but honestly let's face it...morals is really what I wanted to pick. My daughter is being made to read this book as part of her grade 8 English class curriculum and I am disgusted that a teacher would choose this book to teach English. Seriously. Need I say more. As and adult I can search to find the humor in this story, however in our day and age of cyber bullying and anti bullying causes do we really need to teach our children with content like this. The author may think this is funny however the situation I find myself in with my 13 year old daughter being subjected to this without choice is unspeakably evil.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old September 10, 2010
 
so funny mixed with mild language
What other families should know
Too much swearing

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