Review: I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

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

Twelve-year-old Oliver Wilson isn’t the most popular kid in school, but he is the most powerful. Turns out that while he pretends to have the IQ of a grilled-cheese sandwich (his favorite sandwich), he’s actually an evil genius with a vast empire that can control just about every aspect of his daily life. He’s got special devices in the water fountains to he’ll get chocolate shakes when he pushes a certain button, he’s got a vast evil empire that can make all of his day to day problems seemingly vanish and he’s got an attack dog that responds only to his commands in an obscure language.

But all great evil geniuses must have a nemesis–and for Oliver, it’s his father. Oliver looks down on his father, seeing him as unworthy to have a son such as Oliver. But yet Oliver still seeks his approval. So when Oliver is nominated to be class president, an office his father won and held at a young age, Oliver sees his chance to win parental approval. After quickly removing his two opponents, Oliver believes he has clear sailing to the office and paternal approval.

I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil And I Want To Be Your Class President caught my attention simply because of the title. Of course, cover blurbs by Judd Apatow didn’t exactly hurt the interest either nor did the fact that the early goings of this novel are very funny, clever and amusing. The various ways in which Oliver uses his evil powers to manipulate those around him is funny and steeped in geek references galore. When Oliver first declines the class president nomination, he’s forced to bribe his way back in using a rocket-shooting Boba-Fett figure as a bribe. Since only six exist in the world and none of the collectors are willing to sell, Oliver must go to extreme lengths to get one and get back into the race.

Oliver’s narration, asides and illustrative photographs throughout the novel are a lot of fun. However, like an SNL skit, the concept is stretched a bit too far and it ends up being less compelling, funny and entertaining as the novel comes down the home stretch. The one thread that rescues the final third of the novel is once his mother becomes his campaign manager and finds she has more in common with junior high girls than she does her adult contemporaries.

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