This fast-paced caper à la Ocean’s Eleven sports a super savvy cast diverse in race, age, and interests.
Recommended grade level: 6-8
Pages: 240 (for ISBN 9780545525527)
Summary: Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz…. But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good.
Then Keith Sinclair — loser of the Blitz — announces he’s running for school president, against Jackson’s former best friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby hasn’t talked to Jackson since the PDA, and he knows she won’t welcome his involvement. But he also knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the election whatever the vote count.
So Jackson assembles a crack team to ensure the election is done right: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess and cheerleader. Charlie de la Cruz, point man. Together they devise a plan that will bring Keith down once and for all. Yet as Jackson draws closer to Gaby again, he realizes the election isn’t the only thing he wants to win. (Source)
Who will like this book?: Readers who like books about smart, quirky kids outwitting unscrupulous classmates and adults will be all over this. So will readers looking for diverse stories and humor.
Who won’t like this book?: Perfectionistic readers and those struggling with reading comprehension may have a hard time(see Other Comments section below). Readers looking for realism may balk at the more unlikely story elements.
Other comments: This book introduces a lot of characters early on with little or no backstory, so readers have to be quick and have good memories to keep them all straight. The plot, too, moves lightning fast and involves frequent changes in the characters’ situations. This is good for logical thinkers, but may be a challenge for reluctant readers or those with comprehension difficulties
Sequel(s): To Catch a Cheat (2016)
Readalikes: The author lists The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin as an inspiration for this book. The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander is another funny book about scheming, street smart middle schoolers.