DRC: Genius: The Con by Leopoldo Gout

f44 stars

The sequel to Genius: The Game is a thrilling novel that kept me on the edge of my seat as I read every last page.

I read the first novel around a year ago. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but my mom shoved it into my hands. She said, “You’ll like this one,” and then walked away to go look at historical fiction novels.

I was skeptical when I started it. Portraying geniuses in literature is a really hard thing to do while still keeping your characters somewhat likeable and not snobbish, overly erudite, or just plain irritating. The idea still appealed to me, especially with my love of all things tech-y, and so I began to read it.

Luckily, I was pulled into this diverse cast of intelligent teenagers that surprised and entertained me at every turn, their adventure awaiting them. (Yes mom, you were right.)

At the end I was left on such a cliffhanger which was kind of disappointing, but understandable. There were a few flaws in the first book with the realistic nature of the game & how the contestants acted (in my opinion, it should have been a little more ruthless because smart kids are vicious), but it was a very entertaining read. (I won’t be writing a review on the first book because it’s not entirely fresh on my mind, but I did give it 4 stars on Goodreads.)

In Genius: The Con, the main characters Rex, Cai (known as Painted Wolf), and Tunde are on the run from the authorities after being falsely accused of stealing government secrets for a terrorist hacking group, Terminal. They have manage to escape New York and get to Tunde’s Nigerian village to stop General Iyabo from destroying his village, while also trying to track down Rex’s brother.

Here’s the official summary:

Three teen geniuses from diverse backgrounds must work together to stop a vicious warlord, protect their families, and save the world in this fast-paced sequel to Genius: The Game.


Tunde: This fourteen-year-old self-taught engineering genius from Nigeria is in a race against time to save his village from a ruthless warlord.

Painted Wolf: This mysterious sixteen-year-old activist blogger and strategist from China is searching for a way to rescue her father from the corruption he’s inadvertently been caught up in.

Rex: This sixteen-year-old Mexican-American has proven himself to be one of the best programmers in the world, only to be falsely accused of stealing billions of government secrets for the terrorist hacking group Terminal.

Pursued by the police, the FBI, and most dangerous of all, Kiran Biswas, visionary CEO and evil mastermind, three teen geniuses have to move fast and stay low as they race to find a missing brother, stop a vicious warlord, and save the world in Genius: The Con by Leopoldo Gout.

One of the best parts of this novel was the thrilling and fast paced plot that keeps the reader hooked. Genius: The Con was never boring for me to read because it’s so action packed and gives you nervous jitters, whether the characters are trying to escape New York or trying to undermine General Iyabo right under his nose.

Gout still includes descriptive prose, especially when introducing the readers to the new settings of India (can’t spoil why they’re there!) and Nigeria.

In my opinion, this book felt almost like a movie with its fast pace. In some ways, I think Gout didn’t slow down and explain enough. The romance he’s trying to build with Cai and Rex needs a little more oomph to make it better and less insta-love. Whether it’s the sounds of crickets in the night acting as a metaphor for a romantic awakening or something else to add a new level onto this. I feel the romance was under done and not as whole as it could have been with all the action in this novel.

I commend Gout for choosing such a racially diverse cast, but at times it fell a little flat or felt almost forced for me, especially in Tunde’s case.

As a fourteen-year-old Nigerian boy, his narrative is almost childlike and separated from Cai and Rex. Cai and Rex’s chapters read smoothly, like you would in your own head. But Tunde’s is filled with this weird breaking of the fourth wall as he says phrases like, “My friends, let me tell you…”

It’s almost isolating to see him say “My friends” at the start of at least one sentence in each chapter. I think there are better ways to express how he is Nigerian than by using this phrase and making his narrative child-like and untraditional. He’s a person just like Cai and Rex, and although two years younger, still thinks the same, if not better than an average adult (genius, remember?).

Cai and Rex’s narratives read a lot more smoothly and how I would expect a teenager’s to read, but I would have loved to see more of the Asian heritage in Cai’s (hopefully we’ll get that in the next book with them going to Beijing!).

One of the things I would have loved to see in this novel is sexually diverse characters, not just racially. I think LGBTQ+ themes would help take the attention off of the race so Gout isn’t emphasizing their races so much and making it feel like that defines them. They’re all people, just like you (I hope you’re not a robot, Angie Thomas) and me. It shouldn’t be a big deal if you’re Nigerian or Mexican or Chinese. You’re just you.

Sometimes I got a little frustrated with the characters or I was skeptical at how they were able to actually pull everything off. The plot twist at the end (a now common theme in these books) could have been easily prevented in my mind, which makes it all the more painful. The fact that they were able to pull everything together and escape New York was also somewhat dubious.

Despite these shortcomings, I enjoyed reading Genius: The Con because of its fast pace and its hooks that keep the reader engaged. I unfortunately did not get a chance to see all of the cool illustrations that will be included in the novel just like in Genius: The Game, but I’m sure they’ll be just as gorgeous as the ones in the first book.

I would recommend this series to anyone looking for an action-packed read. I can’t wait until the next book comes out! Genius: The Con came out on the 1st of August.

compressed gifThank you NetGalley and Macmillan/Swoon Reads for sending me a Digital Review Copy of Genius: The Con in exchange for an honest review!

Have you read the Genius series? What did you think? Leave your comments below!

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