So this was the book I got for book speed dating at the North Texas Teen Book Festival (which by the way was insanely fun) and I even got it signed by the author Varian Johnson, who is more famous I guess for writing the spirit animals books. It's really a great read that you have to enjoy.
Summary: Jackson Greene is known around his middle school as this big con artist who pulls off these crazy acts such as the Mid-Day PDA or the Blitz at the Fitz (which really is hard to explain and you'll only get it if you read the book) But after the Mid-Day PDA, he basically swore to stop committing cons...until he learns that Keith Sinclair is running for Student Council president. See, after Gabriela De La Cruz's only competition dropped out, Keith put in the forms to run, and word is that he's getting his dad to pay the principal so he can rig the election. Apparently, this private high school all Keith's brothers have gone to wants "extraordinarily academic and extracurricular students" or whatever, meaning the more he has on his resume, the better. Jackson gets word of this and agrees to pull off a con to help Gabriela win, partly because it's the right thing to do, mostly because he may or may not have a huge crush on her. Obviously, I won't spoil the book here, but seriously, this book is definitely worth picking up.
What I liked: Something about this book gives it a James Bone-esque feel to it, but it's weird because it doesn't talk about spies and stuff. Jackson puts ALOT of time into coming up with the scheme, and seems to always have a backup plan when things go wrong (which they do... a lot). It also contains the whole of the middle school diversity. It mentions the Arts, Tech and Gamer Club, Athletics, StuCo, lots and lots of Academically gifted kids, of course middle school relationships, and even the rare gardening club. It truly is set in a realistic middle school world, which if you know how much I love books that are fiction, but also have that chance of actually being realistic, is a major plus.
What I Didn't Like: My only major complaint is how Varian manages to re-tell Jackson's previous cons. I mean, he sort of explains what the heck the Mid-Day PDA occured, and why it happened, but honestly, I would've wished for a full on flashback. Sometime's, yes the flashbacks can get tedious, but he'd only need like two in the entire story, but I wish I could've been in the situation Jackson was in like I was in this con. And it doesn't even begin to explain anything about the Blitz at the Fitz, it just glosses over it, so that you're not scratching your head trying to figure out what it is at the end. I just wish there was more detail when it came to re-telling his previous cons.
Rating on 'the scale': 4.6 out of ten
Why? This was a really enjoyable read that lacked a retelling of his cons (yes, I'm still mad about it) but overall this is a great read for anyone in Middle School looking for a fun story.
Related: Spy School Series by Stuart Gibbs, The Detention Club by David Yoo, Pickle by Kim Baker