Joe Schreiber’s Con Academy is a fun, fast paced YA that pulled a fast one on me 

Joe Schreiber’s Con Academy is a fun, fast paced YA that pulled a fast one on me 

One of my favorite movies is The Sting with Robert Redford and Paul Newman – think con men getting some sweet revenge on the rich guy who did them wrong.  If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out on a really good time.  I bring this up because Con Academy reminded me of that movie in the very best of ways.  The charming and clever leading man, Will Shea, takes readers on a fun, outrageous, and twisty adventure that will definitely keep your interest.  The author of this book is Joe Schreiber, the author of Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, which is my go-to recommendation for those most reluctant readers.  I can hand his books to the most disinterested tenth grader in the entire world and know it will grab them, and Con Academy is no exception.

Will comes from a legendary line of con artists and he has his sights set on a ridiculously plush and prestigious private school that can give him access to the rich and powerful, setting him up for life.   Unfortunately, Andrea has already established her own con at the same school and isn’t willing to share her turf.  They make a bet where the winner stays and the loser takes the next bus out of town.  But when you are running the long con, you have to know all the variables and there are a few surprises in store for Will, starting with a quiet student named Gatsby who might just steal more than his money in this game.  This was a marvelously plotted YA book.  Just when I thought I had it all figured out, the author took it up a level I never could have expected.  Will is a narrator that readers will instantly like and cheer for, and even when he is admitting some of his past sins, it is hard not to see him as someone you would want to be friends with.  He is somewhat of a con man with a heart of gold, but I happen to like that archetype, so I didn’t really mind.  Gatsby was somewhat of a conundrum to me.  I liked her, but I didn’t always understand her, and I found the romance angle didn’t work as well for me as the rest of the book, but I didn’t mind it.  This is simply a pleasure read, so don’t expect a lot of depth, but there is some character growth if feel that you need something to justify enjoying something this fun.  This is what I call a “guy book” because it is fast paced and a quick, easy read with a male narrative voice that draws readers in immediately, but gender and age really shouldn’t be a factor – almost every person who gives this book a shot is going to get a kick out of it.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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