Being a fan of Chris Grabenstein, I was excited to read his latest book, The Smartest Kid in the Universe: Genius Camp. While this book can stand on its own without having read the first in the series, The Smartest Kid in the Universe, it is highly recommended to begin with it to help make the story even more enjoyable. The premise behind the story–jelly beans making you a genius–might seem impossible (for now), but it is a fun concept that will likely have you dreaming about the future. Then throw in the idea of artificial intelligence becoming overly brilliant and readers may wish to stay in the present. Either way, you’ll be on the edge of your seat as the fast-paced story rushes from one conflict to another.
As in previous books, Grabenstein develops the characters and their relationships very well. It’s pretty comical to see how some of the characters respond to the main character, Jake, and his over-night brilliance. In addition to having great characters, this book has an abundance of jokes. Those who appreciate potty humor and references to bodily functions will certainly be a fan of this story as it is chock-full of it. Readers who enjoy puzzles will also love that a few are thrown into the story (but if you don’t, don’t worry as the answers are given). The Smartest Kid in the Universe: Genius Camp will be loved by tweens around the globe.
Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy provided by Random House Books for Young Readers
Violence/Gore: Few (9) brief incidents including fighting in a video game; fable of an animal getting killed; reference to cockroaches getting squished; robots wanting to attack people; character threatened by a robot; verbal threat; character destroyed a phones; character destroyed a computer.
Sex/Nudity: Few (5) brief incidents including a boy mentioning a girl is pretty; girl kissing boys on the cheek; boy teasing another boy about a girl being his girlfriend; boy thinking a girl is attractive.
Reference to theft; many characters are brainwashed; adult character is abducted; many references to rude humor and bodily functions.