Tuesday, June 21, 2016

To Catch a Cheat By Varian Johnson

After I'd read The Great Greene Heist, I had to pick up the second novel. Fortunately, during my next library visit, even though it was released just a couple months ago, it was on the shelves. And this book did not disappoint.

Summary: Jackson Greene, who allegedly has retired from committing cons, has been accused of flooding the entire school. Despite his pleas, the administration still believes he committed the crime, but because they don't have stone-cold evidence, he is not punished yet. But then, two kids named Rob and Thom attempt to blackmail him, when they reveal that they have video evidence of Jackson and his friends sneaking into the school and flooding it. They plan on turning the video into the principal unless Jackson can pull off another con, and help them steal Mrs. Clark's history final exam and get the answers. Jackson, shockingly, complies to this offer, and gets to work with his crew, trying to figure out how the heck they could break into the school (and past its new ultra-high tech non-hack-able security system) while simultaneously try to figure out who is working with Rob and Thom to try to get Jackson and trouble and bust them before it's too late. Not only does Jackson have to avoid outside troubles, which namely include Serena, a member of the honor board who sees all this suspicious activity and begs Mr. James the security guard to bust Jackson, as well as Kayla, Megan's rival tech whiz, but he has to deal with Gaby. Gabriela De la Cruz, president of Student Council, is Jackson's half-ish-girlfriend meaning they both like each other but haven't admitted it or kissed or gone anywhere. Jackson wants to help stop the cheats from cheating on the test but is it worth losing a possibly relationship with Gaby?

What I Liked:  Honestly, to me this is like Spy School in a legitimate middle school. I love these sort of spy mysteries that include a lot of somewhat realistic technology and they just provide such a good plot and climax (Imagine kids being James Bone but more realistic). For some reason, it reminds me of The Homework Machine (which if you haven't read yet you definitely need to check out). Hashemi and Megan are like Brenton, the creator of the homework machine, and everybody else are kind of like the kids who create the plan so that the tech whiz can use their inventions to good use. Of course, I'm the type of guy who loves middle school romance, so it really isn't a big shock why I love this book.

What I Didn't Like:  Honestly, it really isn't the material that is at fault, just the organization of it. The way the book is written, you read about Jackson and his crew, for example sneaking into the school. Then they go through all this crazy action and intense moment when suddenly, it looks like they've been caught (a cliffhanger at the end of the chapter). Normally, you just read to the next chapter and see what happens right? But instead, it like takes you across town to a completely different scene. And by the time the book eventually makes it back to Jackson and his friends, they're not even at the school anymore! Another thing I have to note is that like the last book, it talks about this Trophy Con which it hardly explains.

Rating on 'the scale': 9.1 out of ten

Why? Thank god for the ending. Honestly if it wasn't for the ending, this book may not have been in the eights. But the ending is kind of like a superhero: it swoops in and saves the day. The ending explains  pretty much the plan Jackson had and fills in the gaps. I don't know if the writing style I ranted about is a good one, and I'm too young to see how good it is, but it doesn't matter, because the ending was amazing! Also there's a moment with Jackson and Gaby and... well you'll have to read the book.

Related: Spy School by Stuart Gibbs/ The Detention Club by David Yoo/ The Homework machine by Dan Gutman


11 comments:

  1. That's a great review. I'm going to check out this book, based on what you wrote. I like heist stories.

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  2. Nice review. Looks like another TBR. The cover art is spot on.

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  3. I like mysteries and this sounds like an interesting one, full of lots of things going on. Too bad about the organization of the story, though.

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    1. Yeah, it was REALLY GOOD though, just the organization was a little off. I dunno, but definitely still check it out.

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  4. I liked the first one though a bit far fetched. I'll be sure to find this new adventure. Looks like a good summertime read. Thanks for your honest review.

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    1. Yeah the first one is a little wild, and honestly this one is too, but who doesn't love wild books? I definitely agree this is a great summer time read and you should check it out. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. What a great action-packed summer read! Excellent and honest review.

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  6. Welcome to MMGM! I enjoyed your review--this book is on my list, since the author and I move in the same circles--and I appreciate the nudge to give it a read.

    As it happens, I enjoy Stuart Gibbs' books, too, Belly Up in particular. :)

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  7. I really liked the first one, mainly because Jackson is such a fun character. Thanks for the thorough review! I also loved The Homework Machine too.

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  8. Thanks for a good review. This isn't the sort of book I read often, but maybe I will give it a try.

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  9. Fabulous review! I'm a sucker for spy books, and this sounds like a good one (even if the organization is strange)! Welcome to MMGM! :)

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