The Big Idea is a 115,000 word novel by Bek D. Corbin, originally released on May 4, 2008. It begins on November 25, 2006 and ends on December 21 of that year. Many of the characters, including the protagonists, appear for the first time.
The story concerns Harlan "Reach" Sawyer, a freshman Shifter with elastic powers similar to a budget version of Marvel's Mister Fantastic. He's trying for the Intelligence Cadet Corps and attempting to woo a shy and cute French Devisor, Geneviève (Jenny) "Spark" Etincelle.
Reach and the Spy Kids retrieve one of Spark's stolen projects, but due to a misunderstanding, she thinks he in fact intends to rob her. Feeling betrayed, she sets a trap for him, intended it to be only incapacitating. Someone messes with the trap, however, greatly increasing its intensity, and it turns Reach into a girl—an Exemplar one to boot.
The school intervenes, and Headmistress Carson charges Reach and the Spy Kids to investigate the sabotage, and assigns Spark the job of monitoring Reach's health. Remorseful over her behavior, Jenny does far more than that, creating a full set of superspy-grade equipment for Harlan. Harlan forgives her, and their relationship blossoms.
Over the next weeks, though, a new puzzle appears: instead of Spark's machine's effects just fading and returning Harlan to male, as expected, he switches back and forth several times.
A second attack targets Jenny—and she emerges not only as an Exemplar, but also with the ability to mentally control her other experiment, a "skin" that mimics a shapechanging symbiont. Another Workshop student disappears at the same time.
Finally, after a third attack, Reach figures out who the real culprit was, in time to save the student who had been chosen to take the blame.
- Reach's family:
- The Spy Kids
- Delta Spike
- Iron Star
- Steeljack (Mentioned).