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Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout
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Genius: The Game

by Leopoldo Gout

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Rex Huerta is an American teenager, and a coding genius. His brother Teo was, too, but Teo has disappeared, and Rex is working on a way to find them. His parents reported his disappearance, but an older teen, one old enough to have simply decided to leave, with no evidence at all of foul play, is not a major priority. The elder Huertas, unlike their two sons, are undocumented, and without real evidence, they can't afford to push harder and annoy the police.

So Rex continues with his schoolwork and his blogging activities, while working on software that will enable him to find Teo. Oh, his blogging activities--a blog called the Lodge, where he provides brilliant coding solutions, his friend Tunde, in Nigeria, answers questions about how to build practically anything out of, essentially, junk, and Cai, a Chinese girl they and everyone else only knows as Painted Wolf, exposes corruption. Her research skills and surreptitious videos have brought down some powerful figures.

Among their other activities, Rex is trading coding services to a company that makes, among other things, really high-end cleaning supplies for the school janitor, who enables him to have unauthorized extra time on the school mainframe. Tunde built, out of junk, or as he prefers to say, "repurposed materials," a solar power generator to provide electricity, cell service, and some internet access to his tiny village. Painted Wolf, we should not be surprised to learn, is an ace student in China's demanding system, and a expert at making tiny, high-end, remotely controlled cameras.

And then their tech guru hero, Kiran Biswas, announces a contest. The Game. Details not provided until competitors are at the Boston Collective, and there is no application process. It's invitation only.

Rex needs access to a quantum computer to run the program he's written to find Teo. Tunde has unhappily caught the attention of an ambitious and ruthless Nigerian general, who wants him to build a GPS jammer powerful enough to be a weapon. He needs the help of his friends to make some thing that will work, and save his now-hostage family and village, without helping the general become an even more dangerous monster. Painted Wolf is busy uncovering a new and disturbing corrupt plot, which may affect her father, and would rather skip the whole thing--but then she discovers that both Kiran Biswas, and Tunde's problem general, are both involved.

But only two of the three get invitations. They all need to be there.

We get the story in alternating sections from the viewpoint of each of the three teenagers. They are smart, interesting, each motivated and principled in their individual ways, and yes, convincingly individual characters. Although, of course, add the caveat that I've never known teenagers living in China or Nigeria. Only smart young people of Latino background, whose parents might or might not be documented, fall somewhat within my experience.

But I like them, and found them believable.

It's fast-paced, intriguing, and while you are asked to suspend your disbelief, I don't find it beyond reasonable suspension of disbelief. This is a lot of fun.

Although, in fairness to the reader, I should mention that while the main story of this book comes to a reasonably satisfying end, there is also a significant cliffhanger. I assume there's more to come.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from some source I don't remember and can't quickly find in my email. I'm reviewing it voluntarily. ( )
  LisCarey | Nov 12, 2018 |
This book needed some mayonnaise or BBQ sauce because it was dry!

STORY:
"Cameras are eyes... Microphones are ears... (pg 294)"
In Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout (320 pages), Rex Huerta's a regular sixteen-year-old boy who has a knack (and need) for hacking. Unfortunately, his parents are at risk for being deported from the U.S, Teo, his older brother, has run away from home, and school isn't much fun for him. With all these things weighing on Rex's shoulders, the announcement of the genius Kiran's youth-hacking competition sounds promising, not to mention he needs a quantum computer. Of course, Rex's internet hacker friends Tunde and Painted Wolf are going to be there for their own reasons.

This book needed more detail. To know a character is "tall, thin, and broad-shouldered (pg 125)" is not enough for me! Does the character have dimples, sunken in cheekbones, and are their clothes loose or ironed to perfection? These are the things I want to know!

The visuals like the diagrams, drawings, and photographs were a nice aesthetic, but they felt like a crutch sometimes.

Also, Rex's—actually, everyone's— narrative was dry. And there were too many info-dumps that could've been weaved into the story better.

There's a little attraction between Rex and Cai (Painted Wolf). I mean they were alright. Depending on how old Kiran was, I liked him with her better if only for the Batman/Catwoman angle.

CHARACTERS:
This book has a bunch of diverse characters! Yay! The three main leads are respectively Mexican, Nigerian, and Chinese! Within the Genius competition, there are South Americans, Egyptians, South Africans, and Haitians and others.

Still, I had no favorite character.

Rex is okay, I guess. But he doesn't really have a personality. He just reacts to the things that happen around him.

"I do not like the term junk. It implies inherent uselessness and I have come to find that nothing is inherently useless. It is only a matter of finding the time, functionality, and place of the object" (pg 40).
I did like Tunde the most due to his sense of wonderment. I didn't mind his not-translated Nigerian lingo because I could figure out most of it from context.

Cai (Painted Wolf) was supposed to be this baddie/vigilante chick that I just did not get or care about.

Kiran was interesting just a smidge.

OVERALL:
I'm sorry guys but I could not wait for this book to be over. It took me 9 days to finish this because I had to force myself. It was almost a DNF, but I hoped it would get better.

Not a bad idea but I wished it could have been executed differently (and with more detail)! I might read the sequel. ( )
  DestDest | Oct 11, 2018 |
I wanted to love this book, but, somehow, it fell a little short for me. Genius: The Game is a young adult story with a tech/sci-fi feel. The characters were great. I liked all of them. Even the minor characters, and there were a good number of them, had something memorable about them. The book was fast paced, with a number of sub-plots, but not so many that it felt out of hand. It's written in first person point of view, and switches between our three main characters Rex, Tunde, and Cai. And, unlike other books I've read, it does so very smoothly. The scene transitions and pov transitions are all handled very well. However, there were a number of things which forced me to give it a lower score.

First, the graphics bothered me, which is odd as I'm a huge fan of graphic novels and manga, and studied Art History (basically, I really like pretty pictures). However, many if not all of the graphics in this book felt unnecessary at best and, at worst, in the way. One graphic didn't even agree with the description in the text - a picture drawn on a napkin with pizza grease on it. The picture of this clearly has a coffee ring, or a sweat ring from a cup of soda on it. Maybe it's a little pedantic, but it bothered me to no end.

Also, the ending posed some problems as well. There was little closer. Almost none. In fact, the book opened up more new questions than it closed. The only subplot that I felt had even a modicum of closure was Tunde's, and even that's not really finished yet. Clearly, this is supposed to be the first of a series, though it isn't really stated anywhere on the book that I could find (it's an ARC). If there was more closure to this book, I probably would have given it another star.

I received a free ARC copy of Genius: The Game through Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

( )
  kateprice88 | Sep 25, 2016 |
When a self-made technology industry leader decides to hold a competition, he invites 200 young geniuses from around the world. Rex, Tunde and Painted Wolf have long connected on-line, but this is their first opportunity to meet in person. The competition pushes everyone to their limits, but these three never give up.

I think this is a great book for teenagers. The characters were interesting and well flushed out. My only complaint is that the ending was quite abrupt. I always hate when an author does this. Overall, well worth picking up. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Jul 29, 2016 |
Leopoldo Gout is a new author for me, so I didn't know if I would like this book, but it is really very good.
Rex, Tunde, and Painted Wolf are known as the "LODGE" to computer hackers, bloggers, and code writers all over the world for using their skills to right wrongs and stand up for the little guy. All three have their own reasons for attending "The Game" hosted by the youngest CEO in India's history and computer genius, Kiran Biswas . As the game goes on, the three realize that the other competitors aren't their biggest problem, and the game may just be a front for something sinister going on behind the scenes at Kiran's company called OndScan. Soon they are all fighting for their lives and the lives of their families as the pressure to win the competition becomes a life and death battle.
Clearly there will be at least one sequel to this book based on the way that it ended. A lot of the technical jargon is way over my head, and the technical drawings and diagrams interspersed throughout the book add interest, but none of it is necessary to understand the story. The three main characters are all flawed individuals, but they are easy to like because they are always doing what they think is right. I'm looking forward to the sequel to find out what happens to these three likeable characters. ( )
  Mrslabraden | Jul 3, 2016 |
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"Three underprivileged young prodigies from across the world with incredible skills in technology and engineering team up to become the heroes the world never knew they could be."--

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