#1189 – Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation
Written by Stuart Gibbs
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children  9/17/2019
392 pages   Ages 8—12

Genre:  Middle Grade Book, Fiction
Themes: Spies, Geniuses, Albert Einstein




Charlie Thorne is a genius. Charlie Thorne is a thief. Charlie Thorne isn’t old enough to drive.

And now it’s up to her to save the world . . .

Decades ago, Albert Einstein devised an equation that could benefit all life on earth—or destroy it.  Fearing what would happen if the equation fell into the wrong hands, he hid it.

But now, a diabolical group known as the Furies are closing in on its location. In desperation, a team of CIA agents drags Charlie into the hunt, needing her brilliance to find it first—though this means placing her life in grave danger.

In a breakneck adventure that spans the globe, Charlie must crack a complex code created by Einstein himself, struggle to survive in a world where no one can be trusted, and to fight to keep the last equation safe once and for all. (from publisher)

Opening Lines:

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency scrutinized the photograph of Charlie Thorne, then dropped it on the conference table and gave Agent Dante Garcia a hard stare. “You must be joking.”

“I’m not,” Dante replied solemnly.

“This is a twelve-year-old girl!” Director Carter exclaimed.

“She’s not a normal twelve-year-old.”

“I don’t care if she can fly,” Carter snapped. “I own pairs of shoes that are older than this kid. The fate of humanity is at stake here and you want me to rely on someone who’s barely a teenager?”

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Dante said.

Why I like this book: 

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation is a supercharged race to find Einstein’s latest-greatest equation, which, in the right hands, can power the world with cheap, clean energy. In the wrong hands, it can destroy it at will. If that doesn’t peak your interest, consider that the CIA is running out of options. They know one thing for sure, the Furies, a group of extremely violent, white supremacists, are getting closer to where Einstein hid his equation. Agent Garcia believes their best chance of beating this group is Charlie Thorne, a twelve-year-old girl with an IQ “off the charts.” First, he has to find her. Then Dante must convince Charlie to help him . . . and the world.

Charlie Thorne is a student at a Colorado University, but tends to skip more classes than she attends. When you are smarter than the professor is, it is difficult to listen to him dribble on for an hour. Instead, Charlie prefers high-octane adventures. Skiing off the forbidden Deadman’s Drop meets her expectations. It turns into a race when she spots Agent Garcia and a second agent at the ski resort. The on-the-seat-of-your-pants chase keeps readers turning pages quickly, just to keep up with Charlie. Soon enough though, Thorne is on a CIA jet, listening to Garcia, and trying to decipher Einstein’s final words.

The race for Einstein’s last equation takes Charlie and Agents Garcia and Moon to Jerusalem and Hebrew University. (The history of the university is included, as are other facts surrounding Albert Einstein and his life). A chase on a skateboard nearly gets Charlie killed. Then she learns about safe (and not safe) houses, snipers, and thinking as you run. Once Mossad gets involved the stakes rise higher still. All three groups—CIA, Furies, Mossad—are racing, chasing, and being chased until it all ends on an uncertain note—and a new book? (I read books 2 and 3 have tentative titles. Hooray!)

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation is a non-stop, hold your breath thrill-ride kids will eat up.  Charlie is a super genius role model who makes learning, critical thinking, and reasoning fun (which they can be in the right setting). Parents need not worry about all the bullets flying and body counts rising. The Last Equation is a rush without the gore. And it’s a fast-paced thriller without inducing nightmares. Humor lightens the edges in this well-written story. Author Gibbs throws in lessons on cryptography (code breaking), Albert Einstein, and presses Charlie on morality, as people are shot (and shot at), jet fuel explodes, and bullets rain down from all directions.

Agents Garcia and Moon provide the bravado and the skill, while Charlie Thorne provides the smarts and it all works together to make Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation one of the best middle grade novels, of the year.


Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation. Copyright © 2019 by Stuart Gibbs. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children, New York, NY.

Available at Amazon

Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reser


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