Charlie Thorne knows over a dozen languages. She's an extraordinary coder and inventor. Her IQ is quite simply off the charts, and she might be the only person alive capable of uncovering an equation discovered and hidden by Einstein himself--one which has eluded every intelligence agency in the world for decades. But after a not-100%-legal use of her talents which left her a multi-millionaire, she has been using them only to stay undercover.
And oh, yeah--she's twelve years old.
Under normal circumstances, the CIA wouldn't so much as consider sending a headstrong twelve-year-old into the field (especially one with such a...questionable history). But Einstein's last equation--better known as Pandora's Box--is said to have improved upon E = MC^2 so ingeniously that anyone who had access to it could easily create nuclear power, and the CIA's leaders have reason to believe that a small terrorist organization called the Furies has figured out its location. And, well, desperate times call for (very) desperate measures.
Charlie has absolutely no intention of working with the CIA--in fact, she's put a great deal of energy into avoiding them for the last few years. Yet she can't resist her curiosity, and as she begins to unravel clues left by Einstein himself, she's pulled into a mission that will cross the globe, race the Furies, and shape the fate of the world as she knows it. (No pressure or anything....) But the equation means something different for everyone--from sustainable energy to nuclear bombs--and the closer she gets to finding Pandora's Box, the more Charlie realizes that trusting humanity with the box could be its undoing.
Clever, funny, and engaging, Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation is a fun, fast read. Charlie is stubborn, witty, and highly amusing, and I like how she uses her abilities and knowledge creatively to succeed in seemingly impossible situations--her ability to "see the numbers" is useful not just for unraveling equations, but also for outwitting her enemies and carefully calculated skateboard getaways. While most of the characters are likable but fairly straightforward, I really liked how each one has a logical goal and perspective which, instead of leading to a "good guys vs. bad guys" climax, results in a web of conflicting motivations, strategies, and factions that make the story highly entertaining, particularly the ending. I also liked the villains--most authors would have made the Furies into a brilliant underground network of evil which spanned the globe, but Gibbs instead made them simply a handful of average people, yet ones brimming with racism and blinding hatred. They aren't geniuses, but they don't need to be to be seriously dangerous and concern the CIA, which made them much more believable and interesting--I enjoyed seeing Charlie face off with them! I would recommend Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation to readers ages ten and up who enjoy complex clues, historical and scientific tidbits, and action-filled adventures.
Note: Check out our interview with Stuart Gibbs, author of Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation!