Two Minute DNF Review: Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Grout

Monday, June 13, 2016
Title: Genius: The Game
Author: Leopoldo Gout
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Genius #1
Pages: 302
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Source: Galley via Publisher
Rating: DNF at 24%

Trust no one. Every camera is an eye. Every microphone an ear. Find me and we can stop him together.

The Game: Get ready for Zero Hour as 200 geniuses from around the world go head to head in a competition hand-devised by India's youngest CEO and visionary.

The Players:
Rex- One of the best programmers/hackers in the world, this 16-year-old Mexican-American is determined to find his missing brother.
Tunde- This 14-year-old self-taught engineering genius has drawn the attention of a ruthless military warlord by single-handedly bringing electricity and internet to his small Nigerian village.
Painted Wolf- One of China's most respected activist bloggers, this mysterious 16-year-old is being pulled into the spotlight by her father's new deal with a corrupt Chinese official.

The Stakes: Are higher than you can imagine. Like life and death. Welcome to the revolution. And get ready to run.
I was looking forward to Genius: The Game. It's got a big twitter campaign behind it, the blurb reads like a mix between Nineteen Eighty Four and my favorite dystopians, and the main POV is #OwnVoices. Which is why I'm really very sorry to say that the other two POVs didn't work for me at all.

Of the 75 pages I read, I noted both that:
Tunde's chapter is making me super uncomfortable. The simplistic syntax, referring to his home as a hut are invoking "dumb African" tropes in a fourteen year old super genius.
I'm actively dreading Tunde's chapters. The syntax is so bizarre and the warlord plot is so pedestrian. I can't.
I also had problems with Cai, the Chinese anarchist. Her gymnastics background was too on the nose and the submissive way she deferred to her parents immediately following a harrowing chase through a corrupt business's halls was a juxtaposition that I couldn't reconcile. She's a girl who embeds web code in the posters in her room, just to tell Rex to stop snooping on her. Pouring tea for the same people she was just filming from an air duct?

I was also really frustrated that the plot, the actual game, still had not started by the time I gave up. A quarter of a book is too much set-up for me, especially with really high stakes side stories like corrupt government officials and drug warlords.

The book itself is beautiful, even in galley form. Each character's chapters are decorated with unique art reflecting their specialty: mechanical sketches for Tunde, computer code for Rex, and James Bond-y cross hairs for Cai. I did give the remainder a skim and it seems like the pacing and tension will pick up, but it was too late for me.

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