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Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment (Max Einstein #1)

Review

Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment (Max Einstein #1)

written by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein with illustrations by Beverly Johnson

Max (short for Maxine) Einstein is homeless. She is only 12 years old, but she lives on her own in a smelly room above a stable with other homeless people. She’s also a genius. She may be only 12 years old, but she is able to hack her way into the computers at NYU where she enrolls herself in classes with scholarships.

Max doesn’t know it, but people are watching her. Some of them are interested in her for good reasons and some of them are interested for her for bad ones. She is kidnapped by the bad guys and put in a foster care program where she is housed with other kids who don’t have any other place to live. Max doesn’t like it there, but she isn’t too worried about it because she knows she can escape eventually. But, the good guys are also watching her. They break her out of the home and send her to Israel, where she gets to work on the Genius Experiment. But, the bad guys keep watching and waiting for a chance to take her back.

The Genius Experiment is the brainchild of a very wealthy man. His idea is to bring young geniuses together to solve the world’s problems --- climate change, hunger, violence, etc. As such, Max is called up to use her skills to help solve a problem in Africa.

"This [book] provides background for a lot of potentially productive conversations about the problems in the world and how we might be able to solve them"

As with many of Patterson’s books, this one tackles social issues. For starters, the main character is a homeless 12-year-old, so the initial issue is homelessness. Then, when Max goes to work on the Genius Experiment, the storyline encompasses all sorts of social issues that affect people around the world. This provides background for a lot of potentially productive conversations about the problems in the world and how we might be able to solve them, making this a good book for classroom use.

I enjoyed reading this book, and I really like the main character, but if I could, I would change a few things. First, I would change the cover. Although the main character is known as “Max,” we know that is short for Maxine. However, the character depicted on the cover of the book looks like a boy, and not a girl. Second, because this book covers some pretty heavy topics (like world hunger and climate change), I think the author should have provided some resource materials so readers could get some more information about these topics. Third, because the main character is named after Albert Einstein, I also think the author should have included some extra material about Einstein and his lifetime of achievements. Fourth, because this book is obviously written for middle schoolers, I would have also liked to see a list of organizations where kids could volunteer their time to help with the world’s problems, starting in their own neighborhoods.

The book ended in such a way as to indicate the almost certainty of a sequel. I cannot wait to see where Max will end up next and what world issue she will be asked to solve.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on October 25, 2018

Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment (Max Einstein #1)
written by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein with illustrations by Beverly Johnson