Am I finishing off my reading goals for 2019? Nope. This weekend I caught a nasty cold and used the down time to read but, as usual, I read totally without purpose. I really need to work on this for 2020!
Still, my wandering brought me to a book on my own massive physical TBR shelf: The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons. Billed as a cross between Pretty Little Liars and Ocean’s Eleven I wasn’t sure what to expect. Especially since I had never seen Pretty Little Liars.
Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.
When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.
At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials―because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark―a senator’s son―and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head. Kristen Simmon’s Website.
I’m not sure who wrote the blurb for this book but this is what I would have written instead:
Meet Brynn Hilder. Brynn knows that the only way out of dead end neighborhood is college. And the only way to pay for college is to con for money. Certainly her night cleaning job at the museum isn’t going to pay for classes.
But when her Mom’s drug dealing low-life boyfriend finds her stash of cash for college and demands she start dealing to earn back his trust, Brynn is out of options. A sudden offer to join the elite academy called Vale Hall seems too good to be true. A safe place to sleep, a plush room full of clothes, classes that challenge her intellect and real friends? It’s a dream come true. But when it becomes clear that the director of Vale Hall is keeping his own secrets, Brynn will have to figure out what is true and gain control of her future once again.
Either way, the storyline took a backseat for my love of the main character. Right from the beginning I was invested in Brynn. I think this is the magic of YA books, there is no build up or slow simmer. Instead, the attachment to the characters is immediate and the action follows swiftly. It was my interest in Brynn that really carried me through the book because, diving in, what you think you’ll get out of this book is completely different than where you finish.
I did have two small (tiny really) issues with the story. First, very little of the story takes place at Vale Hall. I’m actually going to start a petition for another book to be added to this series because I really want to see more of the day to day of Vale Hall. And I want details on all of the cons the kids were practicing! I mean, what is a pigeon drop?
Second, there were a lot of characters whose backstories we just had to assume or accept with little to no detail. I want to know why one of the students doesn’t sleep well at night! And what was up with the weird backstabbing girl? I need answers!
Neither of these things bothered me enough to effect my enjoyment of the book. Actually, the author could resolve the second problem with another book (hint hint). But, I know I am a fairly forgiving consumer. For example, plot holes in Marvel movies are something I notice but I just don’t care. But, if these things bother you, it might detract from the story.
This book did what all excellent books do. It kept my interest and attention (I could not put it down!) and still managed to leave me wanting more.
Tell me, please!
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?