Prather’s Pick: A Max Einstein novel
It’s been awhile since I have reviewed a novel intended for young adults, but then I found “Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment,” by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. The illustrations were done by Beverly Johnson.
Max Einstein is a red-headed, 12-year-old genius. Max has no idea who her parents are, where she came from, or how she ended up in New York City. She doesn’t know how she got her name, either, although she is fascinated with Albert Einstein. At 12, Max is a student at New York University.
Max and half a dozen homeless people in New York City live rent-free in vacant quarters three floors above a horse stable. The first two floors house a parking garage for Central Park carriages and stalls for the horses. The owners of the building don’t have any idea that homeless people or “squatters” are there.
Max has placed her old battered suitcase on one side so that she can see her collection of science books, and a collection of Einstein’s quotes and photos— even an Einstein bubblehead doll. It is nearly winter and her unheated room is cold.
At 6 a.m., Max wakes up with an idea. She’s shivering, but she goes right to Mr. Kennedy’s room and wakes him up. She says she has an idea that Mr. Einstein would have called an “aha” moment. She thinks they can turn the horse manure into biofuel. She goes into details about the plan which involves a tank of some sort, three different pipes, and plumbing.
Mr. Kennedy reminds her that the landlord doesn’t even know the tenants are there, and besides that, none of them have any money. Max promises to think of a more practical idea. That’s Max, a genius who is always thinking.
Before long she’s off for her college class, but first she stops at Washington Square Park to play a game of speed chess with Mr. Weinstock. (Sometimes she lets him win.) Phillip Stark is watching Max as she runs to class. It turns out he knows Dr. Zacchaeus Zim who heads the think tank for a sinister group known as the Corp. Dr. Zim has been looking for Max awhile now, and Stark knows that it might mean lots of money if he can deliver the girl to him.
That day, during class, two men who say they represent the Administration for Children’s Their Services take Max to Little Angels, a foster care facility. The next day they even enroll her in public schools.
But then, surprise, Mr. Weinstock and Charl and Isable (known only by their first names) show up. It turns out that they represent Change Makers Institute which mission it is to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. Their efforts are funded by a wealthy benefactor. Max and eight other child geniuses are being recruited to help solve the problems. They’re headed for Jerusalem.
I like this book a lot. The book is fast-paced, and the chapters are short. It’s James Patterson at his best. For kids who like science, this is a must-read. There are several pages of activities at the back of the book.
This week’s book is published by JIMMY Patterson Books, Little, Brown and Company (2018). It costs $14.99 in hardcover. The book can also be found with new books at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.