A trilogy of novels by Catherine Jinks following the life of Cadel Piggot, a Child Prodigy with a love for systems of all kinds. When Cadel is caught hacking into government databases at the tender age of seven, his adoptive parents take him to a children's psychologist named Thaddeus Roth. Instead of holding him back, Thaddeus encourages Cadel's talents, teaching him how to effectively manipulate systems however he pleases. It is revealed that Cadel's real father is the brilliant Evil Genius Dr. Phineas Darkkon, and it's time for Cadel to follow in his father's footsteps.
Several years go by, and Cadel is now attending the Axis Institute, a university for the gifted. At this school, they don't study computer science, accounting, physics, or philosophy- They study infiltration, misinformation, explosives, and pure evil. This is a school for evil geniuses ready to earn their degrees in World Domination. As you might expect, however, things aren't quite that simple. The school is filled with lunatics and freaks, and everyone is looking for opportunities to manipulate everyone else. Unsurprisingly, the school descends into chaos very quickly.
In the midst of all this, Cadel meets Kay-Lee McDougall, a kind-hearted and intelligent young lady. Through his correspondance with Kay-Lee, Cadel begins to realize that perhaps the world isn't as dark and cruel as he thought. For the first time in his life, Cadel begins to question the morals he's been raised with, and the true intentions of Phineas Darkkon and Thaddeus Roth.
This trilogy provides examples of:
- Academy of Evil
- Affably Evil:
- Thaddeus Roth/Prosper English.
- Alias isn't too bad at this either, being one of the few teachers at the Axis Institute that doesn't abuse his students, remaining jovial and cheeky throughout the course. Not to mention that his class is probably one of the least evil in the Axis Institute. Even when helping to kidnap Cadel in the second book he tries to treat Cadel well, and is only doing it out of fear and need for money.
- Art, the Forgery Teacher- courteous, professorial, and not above embezzlement and murder.
- Terry, the Genetic Manipulation teacher, who manages to be so charming that most people don't notice the bloodstains on his hands.
- Alas, Poor Villain: When Prosper English is believed to have died at the end of the third book, Cadel is reduced to tears.
- Alpha Bitch: Jem and Ni start out as a pair of these, before things get serious.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Cadel Darkkon. After all, it means "Battle Lord."
- Battle Butler: Vadi, Prosper's genetically-mutated butler.
- Big Bad: Phineas Darkkon in the first, Thaddeus in the second and third.
- Blessed with Suck: Cadel's friend Gazo has the superpower of generating an incredibly powerful stink when stressed.
- The Chessmaster: Prosper English, pretty much constantly. Cadel also has his moments of this.
- Creepy Crossdresser: Alias, when he needs to.
- Driven to Suicide: Kunio. Off-screen and with no reason given, no less!
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Alias.
- Evil Genius: Heck, it's the title.
- Evilutionary Biologist: Phineas Darkkon, to a T.
- Evolutionary Levels: Prosper's butler, Vadi, is an "evolutionary throwback" and has many amphibian traits, such as extra eyelids.
- Gambit Pileup: Everyone in this school aspires to be The Chessmaster, with varying degrees of effectiveness. By the climax of the book, the Evil Schemes are tangled beyond comprehension.
- Hacker Cave: The War Room
- Hardware Heaven also qualifies.
- Handicapped Badass: Sonja. Despite her cerebral palsy, she has plenty of brainpower that ultimately saves Cadel a few times.
- Kick the Dog: Luther Lasco slashing Jem across the face for cheating in class.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: Averted. Sonja's disease does not make her Moe or overly sweet. In fact, she is portrayed as a realistically impaired victim of cerebral palsy, and still manages to be a strong and helpful character.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Multiple times! At first, Cadel's father is believed to be Phineas Darkkon, the quintessential evil genius. In a shocking twist, it is revealed that his father is actually Prosper English, Darkkon's second-in-command. Later still, it is revealed that Cadel's father was actually Chester Cramp, one of Darkkon's employees who's barely been mentioned before. By this point, Cadel is so tired of the whole thing that he doesn't care anyway.
- Master of Disguise: Alias.
- Manipulative Bastard: Prosper English, who's been pulling the strings behind every aspect of Cadel's entire life.
- The Mole: Dot
- Never Found the Body: Prosper English.
- The Nondescript: Alias.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Close to the end of the first book, Cadel baits Art into stealing over two million dollars from Maestro Max's account, fully expecting him to die in the process. Quite unexpectedly, the sixty year-old forger then buys a gun with the money and proceeds to kill the hitman sent after him.
- Sanity Slippage: Most of the new students at the Axis Institute, but especially Jem and Ni.
- Single-Minded Twins: Twins Jem and Ni start out as this, Ni even cutting her face to match Jem. It falls apart horribly once Ni loses some fingers and Jem refuses to match her.
- Sociopathic Hero: Cadel starts out as this, but grows out of it thanks to Sonja.
- Stepford Smiler: Tracey Lane, the Misinformation Teacher.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Phineas Darkkon.
- Twin Telepathy: Twins Jem and Ni are said to have this, though they never display it to any great degree.
- What Is Evil?: Maestro Max's class covers this.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Cadel, whose pretty face actually makes it easier for him to crossdress as opposed to a regular disguise.
- Wicked Cultured: Art, the
ForgeryCultural Appreciation teacher.