Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation (Charlie Thorne Series #1)

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation (Charlie Thorne Series #1)

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Fast-paced, smart, and action-packed...a real page-burner. —Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times bestelling author of the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series

From New York Times bestselling author Stuart Gibbs comes the first novel in a thrilling new series about the world’s youngest and smartest genius who’s forced to use her unbelievable code-breaking skills to outsmart 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—even 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 fight to keep the last equation safe once and for all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781508287353
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 09/17/2019
Series: Charlie Thorne Series , #1
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 806,656
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Stuart Gibbs is the author of the FunJungle series, as well as the New York Times bestselling Spy School and Moon Base Alpha series. He has written the screenplays for movies like See Spot Run and Repli-Kate, worked on a whole bunch of animated films, and developed TV shows for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC, and Fox. Stuart lives with his family in Los Angeles. You can learn more about what he’s up to at

Read an Excerpt

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation

  • CIA headquarters

    Langley, Virginia

    Present day

    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.

    “These measures aren’t desperate. They’re insane.”

    “Well, maybe it’s time we tried something crazy. The CIA has been using the same old techniques to find Pandora for almost seventy years, and they haven’t gotten us anywhere. They certainly didn’t work in Bern.”

    Director Carter’s gaze went cold, making Dante think that he’d pushed things too far. But then Carter gave a slight nod, conceding that he was right, and sat back in her chair to think.

    Dante had seen the director lapse into deep thought before, though never when he was the only one in the room with her. The previous times, he had been a junior agent, relegated to the background, expected only to observe and keep his mouth shut. Carter’s long pauses to think in meetings were legendary at the Agency. She had been known to not say anything for up to ten minutes, during which she expected complete silence. This could be awkward for the other agents in the room, but they all greatly respected Carter—revered her even—and so they dealt with it.

    Jamilla Carter was in her sixties, the rare CIA director who had risen to the job by being an exceptional agent rather than a political appointee. Her piercing brown eyes stood out against her dark skin. She had been an analyst, rather than a field operative, but then, most CIA employees were analysts, and Carter was one of the best.

    Carter was in analysis mode now. She picked up the file Dante had assembled on Charlie Thorne and leafed through it for what was probably the twentieth time that day.

    Dante grew uncomfortable watching her, so he let his gaze drift out the window. It was January and the sky was roofed with gray clouds. Squalls of snowflakes swirled outside the window. Even on a sunny day, the buildings of CIA headquarters were drab; today they looked ominous and foreboding.

    Carter’s eyes shifted from the file to the photograph once again.

    Charlotte Thorne, aka Charlie, was a mix of many different races, although she didn’t look like one more than any other. If Charlie had been ten years older, this would have been a huge asset. She could have passed for a very tan white person, a light-skinned black person, or Hispanic or Arab or Indian, or even partly Chinese. Looks like that would allow you to blend in anywhere on earth, to pass yourself off as almost any culture if you could speak the language.

    But Dante hadn’t suggested Charlie because of her appearance. It was because of her intelligence. Her IQ was off the charts. Director Carter had dozens of certified geniuses under her at the CIA, and none of them had IQs as high as Charlie Thorne’s. Carter wouldn’t have believed anyone could score that high if Dante hadn’t provided three separate reports from respected psychologists to confirm it.

    Carter flipped through the psych reports again. She had read them twice already. The second time, she had marked them with a red pen, circling words or phrases that were important to her, for reasons that were good or bad. Finally, she looked back at Dante.

    “She’s brilliant,” Carter said. “I’ll give you that.”

    “She’s beyond brilliant,” Dante corrected. “She speaks at least twelve languages and can understand more. She’s already been accepted to college, studying advanced math and theoretical physics. She has a photographic memory. . . .”

    “There’s no such thing as a photographic memory.”

    “Well, hers is as close as it gets. Her mind is wired differently than ours. She knows everything about everything. Science, history, art . . . you name it.”

    “Perhaps. But there are other characteristics of her personality that are more worrisome.” Carter tapped some of the reports where she had made notes. “Rebellious. Headstrong. Conceited. Disrespectful of authority.”

    “Do you know who else was like that as a child?” Dante asked. “Albert Einstein. As well as Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, and every other groundbreaking genius you can name. Anyone that brilliant is going to chafe at authority. Because they’re smarter than the authorities.” Dante leaned across the conference table. “The CIA has been searching for Pandora ever since Einstein died, and we’ve gotten nowhere. So maybe we need someone as smart as Einstein to find it. And the closest person we have to Einstein right now is her.” Dante thumped his finger on the photo of Charlie Thorne.

    Carter’s eyes fell to the photo again, then returned to Dante. Agent Garcia was mentally gifted himself; that was why Director Carter was even sitting here with him, considering his radical suggestion, when she had a thousand other things to do. Like dealing with the fallout from Bern.

    Dante was only twenty-eight, but he had already proved himself in the field many times, rising rapidly through the ranks. Like Charlie Thorne, he was a blend of races, able to pass as almost any ethnicity he wanted, meaning he had served all over the world.

    “Miss Thorne’s disrespect for authority probably goes much farther than Einstein’s ever did,” Director Carter said. “As far as we know, Einstein never broke the law, whereas Miss Thorne has. And in rather spectacular fashion.”

    “That’s exactly why she’ll work for us.”

    Carter arched an eyebrow. “You want to blackmail her into helping us? That’s not exactly going to make her respectful of authority.”

    “I can handle her.”

    Carter leafed through the file on Charlie Thorne one last time, considering all the possible ramifications of bringing this girl aboard. The kid was a risky play, for sure. The chances were high that it wouldn’t work. And yet, as Agent Garcia had said, these were desperate times. Carter’s intelligence said the Furies were closing in on Pandora; meanwhile the CIA was no closer than it had been seven decades ago.

    “This will have to be an unsanctioned mission,” Carter said. “Completely off the books. There can’t be any record that the CIA is coercing twelve-year-olds to work for us.”

    Dante smiled. “Of course not.”

    “That means a bare-bones operation as well. Only you and one other agent.”

    Dante’s smile faded. “Only one other? That’s crazy!”

    “Weren’t you just telling me it was time to try something crazy? If it helps, you can select whoever you want.”

    Dante didn’t hesitate for a second. “Milana Moon.”

    Director Carter nodded. Even though she had thousands of agents working under her, she knew exactly who Moon was. The fact that Dante had named her so quickly simply confirmed his intelligence to her. “Fine. If she’ll agree to it.”

    “I think I can convince her.”

    “Then we’re done here.” Carter snapped to her feet and slid the file back across the conference table to Dante. “Destroy that. And then go find Pandora.”

  • Customer Reviews

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    Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
    Twink 9 months ago
    I find myself listening to more and more audio books. And I also find that I'm (happily) listening outside of my normal choices. Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation is new from Stuart Gibbs and was my latest listen. Charlie Thorne is actually a twelve year old girl. A brilliant (and wealthy) twelve year old who is already in college. But her studies are cut short (well honestly she hardly ever went anyway) when the CIA comes calling. They need her help to find a 'last equation' from Albert Einstein - one that some 'baddies' also want. If it falls into the wrong hands, the fate of the world is at stake. Gibbs has penned a fun read that anyone around that twelve year old mark is going to love. (and especially girls) Charlie has an incredible quick mind. Listeners will enjoy her leaps - both physically and mentally. She thwarts the adults in her path time and time again. I must admit, I was impressed with Gibbs' clues - they're well thought out, believable and fairly intricate. I quite enjoyed following along to the final reveal. The action is constant, keeping the book moving forward at a fast pace. The two adult agents paired with Charlie are (thankfully) not buffoons. They're very capable as well. Gibbs does some relationship exploration between both agents and Charlie. This is done thoughtfully - after all, she may be brilliant, but she's still a twelve year old. Emily Woo Zeller was the reader and she did a great job. She provided a perfectly suited voice for Charlie, youngish sounding but full of sass. She lowers and slows down the tone and pace for the adult characters. The male voices were believable. And all the characters were easily differentiated. Zeller's voice is clear and easy to understand and she enunciates well. She captured the action and tension of the plotting easily with her inflection and speed. This would be a great listen for a family road trip. And I could see a sequel in the making.
    Carstairs38 9 months ago
    Meet Charlie Thorne. She is highly intelligent, a great athlete – and twelve-years-old. She is attending college, if you can call only showing up on test days to be attending college, just biding her time until she is legally an adult. Until the day the CIA shows up and strong arms her into helping them on a mission of critical importance. It is believed that Albert Einstein developed an equation in the 1930’s that rivals his theory of relativity in importance, but he hid it to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. While people all over the world have been looking for it for decades, the race to find it has heated up, with the fate of the world potentially in the balance. Because Charlie is so smart, they think she can more easily decode the clues that Einstein left behind. Will Charlie be able to follow the clues to find it? I was excited to dive into a new series from middle grade author Stuart Gibbs. It takes a little time to set up the characters and the story in the first half, but the second half is packed with action. When I got here, it was nearly impossible to put down. The main characters got some nice character growth over the course of the book. The rest of the characters aren’t quite as sharp, but they are developed enough to keep us engaged in the book. This doesn’t have quite as much humor as some of Stuart Gibbs’s other books, although I did laugh some. The more serious tone is reflected in the more serious nature of the story. There isn’t anything that isn’t appropriate for the intended audience, but there is more violence off the page than in his previous books. Only the most sensitive kids will be bothered by what happens here, however. The ending of this book will leave you ready for Charlie’s next adventure. I know I’m anxious for it.
    Costumer500 10 months ago
    Excellent book but.... the age range should be 13-18 not 10-18. The content (spoilers) is too intense for 10-12 year olds. Having the “bad guys” wanting to blowup the ports with nuclear bombs to eliminate the flow of immigrants to Europe is not something 10-12 year olds can process. The knowledge of world situations is necessary to balance the story with the current world situation. Heck, I doubt that half of High School students could read this book and understand the subtleties in much of the book’s situations. This Includies the obvious description of the characters ethnic diversity.
    Anonymous 11 months ago