The Genius Experiment by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Max Einstein book 1. Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9781784759827.
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Orphans, Gifted children, Inventions, Heroes and villains, Problem solving, Albert Einstein. James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein's The genius Experiment introduces twelve-year-old orphan Max Einstein, an amazing girl who lives by her own rules. She's squatting above the Central Park horse and carriage stables, attending college classes at NYU and supporting the homeless people who live in the building with her. She's used her home-made computer built from discarded parts to hack into the college's systems and add her name to classes she wants to attend. Max relies on Albert Einstein's wisdom to guide her decisions, and all her possessions are carried in a little suitcase filled with her mentor's quotes and memorabilia.
Two organisations are watching her every move, CMI - Change Makers' International and The Corporation filled with shadowy sinister people keen to use Max's genius skills for evil purposes. Typically, they are dressed in black and out to capture and control Max. After a brief time at a foster care facility, Max is rescued by her chess buddy Mr Weinstock and two CMI handlers and whisked off to Jerusalem. Before the flight, Max's able to rescue her suitcase, feed all her friends at the stables and is pleased when she learns they are to be taken to safe houses.
Max is guided by Einstein's wisdom, without any parental advice, she continues a constant inner dialogue seeking answers and advice. 'Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.' The mission of the CMI Institute is to solve some of the world's most serious problems using science. Eight other young geniuses and Max compete against each other to become the one chosen to lead a team tasked with solving these problems. What shines through is Max's ability to face new situations, creatively problem solve and see the world through her scientific understandings. Ever-present are the evil minions of Dr Zimm ready to capture the young girl.
The team's first mission involves a dangerous trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to rescue children forced to work in the cobalt mines. Max and her friends plan to set up solar energy panels in a village setting up an alternate industry. When the Corporation comes in to destroy their work, the young geniuses and their adult helpers stand up and save the day.
The Genius Experiment is jam-packed with exciting adventures, twists and turns, humour and empathy. Max Einstein is a wonderfully resilient individual who faces challenges head on, relying on her own abilities and forward thinking, making the most of her life. Endorsed by The Albert Einstein Archives, the authors have created a tremendous beginning to a new series.