Review: The Deceivers (The Vale Hall #1) by Kristen Simmons
Book Blurb:Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean's 11 in this intrigue-filled contemporary drama from acclaimed author Kristen Simmons.
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.
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Teen--
Brynn has had a lot to deal with in her life, and if running a few simple cons is all it takes to save some money and get out of her run down neighborhood as soon as she graduates high school, then she is all for it. But when her abusive stepfather finds her "savings" and accuses Brynn of stealing from his illegal drug operation, Brynn needs another option for her life- and fast. When she follows a mysterious boy to party that offers a spot at an elite school as a prize for winning what seems to be a con, Brynn knows this is her chance to get out of her life.
I am sure this says a lot about me as a person, but I love con-artist stories. There is just something so compelling about a con-artist and their attention to detail and the way they read people so perfectly- it is basically like magic (evil, evil dark magic, bust still!). I was lucky enough to have Kristen chat with my book club about the story and her reasons for writing it and her research into conartists was fascinating, making me like the world she created even more since there was realism and research backing all the behaviors and cons. (The fact their was a con-class was the best part of the book to me!)
Kristen was able to create a book that was entertaining and engaging the entire duration, never once did my attention stray or did I want to put the book down. The added touch of mixing mythology in with modern day life helped to create something of a backstory that I had no idea what direction it would take next. Keep in mind that this is not a paranormal book at all, but a YA contemporary mystery/suspense/drama with framework similar to the mythology of Norse culture. I was also really surprised (and super appreciative) that Kristen was able to keep such a light tone with her story even while dealing with dark, heavy subject matters such as abuse, drugs, blackmail, conspiracy and even death.
I loved watching Brynn battle her personal demons in such a fantastic of ways, using her smarts and charm to manipulate the system. No matter the situation, I rooted her on and connected to her as a person. I can't wait to see what Brynn will do next with all the information she uncovered and some potentially hard choices coming up. The story ended well, no cliff hanger, but with me wanting the next installment asap. In case you were uncertain, I am 100% fangirling over this story and think everyone should get their hands on this book to read!