The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson, review by Melissa Fox
Jackson Greene was a con man. Emphasis on WAS. He got ratted out -- and caught breaking into the principal's office -- last spring in what Maplewood Middle School is calling the Mid-Day PDA. So, his goal this fall: No More Cons.
Except, the student council election is coming up, and all of a "sudden" Gaby de la Cruz's main competition dropped out of the race, and Jackson's nemesis, Keith Sinclair is running (even though it's past the deadline to enter). Which makes Jackson suspicious.
He doesn't have to prove that something suspicious is up, but with some urging from his right-hand man, star reporter, and Gaby's twin brother, Charlie, Jackson gets back into the game.
Yes, this is an elaborate con. And it's an elaborate fantasy: what 13-year-old eighth grader is going to pull a long con and hoodwink not only the entire 8th grade, but the bumbling administration as well? But that's also what makes it a whole lot of fun. Jackson is a charismatic character, with his suits and slightly askew red tie, and you can't help being entertained by his scheming.
And he assembles the most awesome crew, one that even my fantasy-loving 10-year-old daughter was in awe of. There's Hashemi, inventor (my favorite: the MAPE, a beta cell phone the size of a brick); Bradley, the sixth-grade artist with an "in" at the office; Victor, the money behind the operation; and Megan, defying stereotpyical cheerleader role by being a tech wizard, coming to the rescue of the boys.
It's got something for everyone: a long con, of course, but geekery, a wee bit of romance, and some delightfully loathsome adults to hate. It's definitely the best pick for a fun summer read, for readers of all ages.