Rebel Genius: Rebel Geniuses, Book 1
No reviews yet.Add your rating
No reviews yet.Add your rating
Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free.
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.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rebel Genius is the first in a mystical fantasy series -- and the debut book by Michael Dante DiMartino, co-creator of the animated TV shows Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. The story borrows elements of several religions and philosophies and adds a splash of magic. A brutal dictator portrays herself as more powerful and important than the spiritual creator of the world, and the plot involves a Holy Grail-like quest for Sacred Tools said to have been used to build the universe. There's a lot of fantasy violence: Mercenaries are brutally killed by giant, invisible lizards, and a dangerous villain leaves a path of deadly destruction (including corpses and grotesque creatures) in his wake.
There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
As the REBEL GENIUS series starts, Giacomo has been hiding in sewers, stealing supplies, since his artist parents died and he fled the orphanage. After being brutally robbed, he's discovers he has a Genius: a birdlike animal that serves as something of a muse and creative energy source for artists. But Geniuses -- and artistic expression -- are forbidden in the Zizzolan Empire, so Giacomo takes refuge with a small colony of young artists training in secret. He begins to learn about the sacred geometry and his own mysterious, extraordinary powers. Those powers must be put to the test all too soon as a dangerous artist begins to hunt down the legendary Sacred Tools that could undo the world.
Is It Any Good?
Math meets magic in this inspired fantasy adventure, infused with the same sense of mysticism and philosophy that author Michael Dante DiMartino brought to his animated TV work. Rebel Genius -- the first in a planned series -- is sort of The Da Vinci Code for kids. DiMartino builds an Italianate world and then develops an epic quest that draws from diverse religious references (including golems and Christian imagery) and art history, particularly da Vinci's Vetruvian Man.
The writing sometimes plods, but the creative elements -- particularly the bird Geniuses and the interplay of art, math, and magic -- keep the story from getting bogged down. DiMartino's black-and-white illustrations -- as if drawn from Giacomo's sketchbook -- help explain key mathematical concepts and bring several characters to life. The fantasy world and key themes deepen considerably, setting an intriguing stage for the next installment.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about art as a powerful tool in Rebel Genius. Can you think of real-world examples of ways creative work has threatened people in power?
Were you surprised by the way math and art are linked here? Talk with your family about the role math plays in music and visual artwork. (Hint: Try looking at books and apps on drawing.)
- Author: Michael Dante DiMartino
- Illustrator: Michael Dante DiMartino
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: STEM, Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Arts and Dance
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
- Publication date: October 4, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 14, 2018
Our Editors Recommend
Falcon in the Glass
Exciting tale of boy glassblower in Renaissance Italy.
The Young Elites, Book 1
Taut tale mixes medieval fantasy, mutant powers, great cast.
Da Vinci - History
Get to know the original Renaissance man with this charmer.
For kids who love fantasy and math
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate