the best friends you’ll never have

Browsing in Janine Kishi

I’ve written about it before, but Janine’s impossibly high IQ continues to haunt me. Today, I happened upon an article on the man with the world’s highest IQ–and his is 198, making Janine’s 196 a sure bet in the competition for the world’s smartest woman.

Is it possible, theoretically? Sure. But in fiction, coincidences are less believable than they are in real life, and so are such extraordinary things as the smartest woman in the world being a sixteen-year-old girl in suburban Connecticut. If Ann and co. had really wanted to run with this plot, they could have centered a whole series around Janine and how she deals with her life as the world’s smartest teenager, rather than focusing on her semi-literate younger sister’s baby-sitting foibles. But as it stands, Janine’s ridiculously high IQ is something that is just tossed around casually, with no real importance given to its significance–only that Janine annoys Claudia sometimes and really loves school.

If we take Janine’s IQ at face value, however, and also regard it with more significance than Ann and the ghostwriters allowed–because whoa, smartest girl in the world is even more pressure than JUST being a genius–I suppose that Claudia’s poor school performance and crappy spelling almost make sense, despite the fact that she was never allowed to be diagnosed with a learning disability. I can sympathize, to a point. My brother is a talented musician; I never got very far with an instrument because I could never compete. Claudia would never be a rocket fission scientist or whatever; she’ll never do as well in school; fuck it, let’s paint.

(N.B.: The article on that guy is pretty weird. Apparently he is a former stripper who is addicted to online porn. Bodes well for Janine’s future, no?)

Play along here, in the comments, or on your own blog!

OK, this one is actually difficult for me, because I happen to like a lot of the mysteries. Yes, they are unrealistic for the most part, and I am always like, “Why haven’t I ever come upon a mystery in my own life?”, but I find them quite enjoyable. Good job, Ellen Miles. Actually, as I write this, I am looking at the list on wikipedia, trying to decide.

I like Stacey and the Mystery at the Mall, despite its ridiculousness, because it takes place at a MALL and I love malls. I live across the street from an awesome one now, and it’s great. H&M and TopShop all day, every day. Plus a food court. But I digress. I like The Mystery at Claudia’s House, because, spoiler alert, Janine gets a boyfriend! Stacey and the Haunted Masquerade is DEFINITELY the creepiest! I also always had a little crush on Thrash from Dawn and the Surfer Ghost.

I think, though, that it’s a tie between Claudia the Mystery at the Museum and Stacey and the Stolen Hearts. I like Museum because the descriptions of the Stoneybrook Museum make it sound really cool, like if you combined an art museum with the Franklin Institute. Stolen Hearts is very gossipy, which I enjoy. You get to see a lot of the minor SMS characters in that, and I like to have more information about the minor characters. Cary Retlin, too, is a particular favorite of mine.

So yeah, I guess this a cop-out, because I couldn’t really decide. It’s honestly easier for me to talk about which mysteries I DON’T like, but that’s tomorrow.

EDIT: I just realized I skipped Day Four, least favorite regular book! I’ll do THAT one tomorrow. Also, Donica reminded me that Masquerade is the book where Cary moves to Stoneybrook, so I may need to just rethink this whole thing. Deciding which Mystery is your favorite is SERIOUS BUSINESS, guys.

Thanks Ashley for scanning the cover of the Mystery Game for me! Now after, er, three and a half years of blogging, I finally have a banner that has the BSC in it.


Take a gander at this blog post. I have no idea who this guy is; I was just doing a google search for “highest IQ ever” (who gets sucked into 4am wikipedia spirals? This bitch), and this site came up. Look at the list this guy has written. How many people, according to this list, have an IQ higher than Janine Kishi’s 196? One, a physicist. Janine’s IQ is higher than the estimated IQs of Da Vinci, and Wittgenstein, and Newton.

The series is known to have gotten a lot of things wrong–diabetes, autism, etc. But there is perhaps no mistake more egregious than Janine Kishi and the Unbelievably High IQ. Are we supposed to believe that Janine is one of the smartest people who has ever lived, and yet her parents can’t let her take courses more challenging than those found at the local university, and she amuses herself by correcting people’s grammar and not by making earth-shattering discoveries or writing important academic papers? Or, hell, even just becoming a chess grand master would make her IQ more believable. Yes, sometimes geniuses and prodigies don’t live up to their potential. But we were never given the impression that Janine wasn’t. We were supposed to be impressed by her part-time matriculation at Stoneybrook University.

Let’s think back to Claudia’s Portrait, where she was sent to an alternative academy more suited for her learning style. I find it hard to believe that, given the evidence that the Kishis did not have a problem sending one of their children to private school if they were shown that it was necessary to the child’s academic success, that they would not do the same for someone as extraordinarily gifted as Janine. They could’ve sent her to a special school for the gifted, or allowed her to enroll in an Ivy League school early. I have a university in my hometown that seems similar to Stoneybrook University, given what we know about it, and I would say that the courses I took at my prep school were probably more challenging and had higher academic expectations than the ones at said local university. I just can’t see how Stoneybrook University courses would be challenging enough for a sixteen-year-old with a 196 IQ.

I am just not sure why such a number was chosen for Janine. Isn’t it enough to simply say that Janine is a genius, and be done with it? Or perhaps give her an IQ that is genius level, and make her a member of MENSA or something. But by going with 196, Janine’s character stretches the limit of credibility, given that the only “genius” thing she does is like school a lot and take college courses and talk using a lot of words Claudia doesn’t understand. (Nowadays, however, college courses seem to be nothing all that unusual in American public high schools. And it’s not all that hard to use words that Claud wouldn’t know.) It just seems silly to me to give her something so amazing, and then make it unbelievable by making Janine basically just an ordinary gifted student. At least say, “Claudia has a sister who works at the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, even though she is only 16″–not, “Claudia has a sister who takes classes at Local Crap State University, even though she is only 16.”

EDIT: I just came across this:

There are, however, close contendors [sic]. An example of an ultra-elite group of intellectuals would be the Giga society, which accepts people only with an IQ of 196 or higher. This would mean a 1 in 1 billion probability. Currently, there are 6 members, which would technically mean these are the 6 smartest people in the world.