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The Deceivers Hardcover – 5 February 2019
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"Brilliantly plotted, tightly paced, and intensely smart. The Deceivers is the perfect con, full of clever characters, untrustworthy romance, and lie after lie after lie, with just enough truth tossed in to make you question everything. Kristen Simmons is a deceptive genius. I could not devour this book fast enough."-- Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval
"Beneath its quick and clever dialogue, The Deceivers examines the moral grey area between good and evil. Lying has never seemed so much fun."--Katharine McGee, New York Times bestselling author of the Thousandth Floor Trilogy
"Masterful, suspenseful, and brilliantly executed, The Deceivers is the perfect con. Kristen Simmons is an outstanding storyteller, and this is her best yet."--Amie Kaufman, New York Times bestselling author of Illuminae and These Broken Stars
"Addictive and delicious, The Deceivers will keep you turning the pages well into the night!"--Katie McGarry, critically acclaimed author of Pushing the Limits
"...the excitement of teen operatives learning to work complicated scams makes for compelling drama. The moral ambiguity feels as urgent as it is ultimately unresolvable--people do really bad things while the police look the other way, and sometimes, at least according to Odin, it takes deception, dangerous gambles, and a willingness to accept collateral damage to bring about justice."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Brynn is a sharp, analytical thinker with a soft heart - the exact kind of protagonist I love rooting for, especially as villains and heroes creep out from places I don't expect...Even the prerequisite romance was a pleasant surprise as Brynn and her love interest show complete respect for one another, giving enthusiastic consent the front seat it absolutely deserves and yet feels underrepresented in young adult literature. I devoured this book in one big gulp because I couldn't wait to see what twists and turns were ahead."--Kelly Morton, Joseph-Beth Booksellers
"The Deceivers is a perfectly paced, high stakes read that is honestly super fun for the reader. Don't plan on putting it down in the middle to do other things, you'll want to keep reading. Simmons has outdone herself with this incredible new story about con artists and a girl trying to find her own path."--Rachel Strolle, Teen Librarian, Glenside Public Library District
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It was not what I expected, it was sooo much better!!! With these teenagers running cons, like spies, and working jobs until they finally get their target goal. But at the same time, they are teenagers, with teenager problems.
Brynn is the main character, and she is invited to the school. The school is in a mansion. They are given all kinds of stuff. And if they are successful, they will be sent to the college of their choice. As we follow Brynn through the story we see her questioning things, but she gets her assignment and starts her long con. In the meantime she makes friends in the school and starts crushing on Caleb. Aw....Caleb....yummy! Anyway, without saying too much...there are lots of twists and turns....I just thought this book was so much fun! And of course it had the romance, which is VERY IMPORTANT!!! lol!
I definitely recommend this as a fun YA read with lots of mystery, suspense, adventure and romance❤️!!
I honestly didn’t want to finish The Deceivers, I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters or leave Vale Hall. So, I procrastinated and made Manatee a Vale Hall bandana to wear while he’s working using a promotional Vale Hall patch that I was sent for the book’s publishing day.
I first learned about The Deceivers when I stumbled across a tweet by Kristen Simmons about some ill-informed early reviewer who accused her of pandering to the people and overloading her book with diverse characters for “diversity brownie points”. I swore then and there, I was going to buy a copy and scream about all the diversity brownie points that I love. And look, here I am, with a virtual bullhorn.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading The Deceivers, this entire book centres around The Con and is a veritable Gordian’s Knot of cons. From the opening scene where our protagonist executes a simple 5-minute con on three dance students and comes away two hundred dollars richer, to the humdinger of a con that made me exclaim “what the hell, dude?!” at 2AM and the cons the students of Vale Hall learn in class and apply on their assignments, you will not be bored reading this.
Brynn is a mixed girl from Devon Park, a no-income area of Sikawa City. She has a plastic pencil case box in her hollowed-out mattress that she stashes away cash that she earns conning people uptown, all of it’s for college and getting the hell out of Devon Park. As someone who lives the Devon Park lifestyle, I know exactly where Brynn is coming from except, I stash my money in my bookcase. I’ll be honest, if some random arsed old white guy offered me a golden ticket to a bright shiny future and freedom from my past, I wouldn’t even question those nasty little puppet strings he’s tying onto my limbs. But Brynn’s moral compass isn’t as charcoal grey as my own, that girl questions everybody and everything.
I was in love with the concept of a private boarding school for budding young con artists because, like I’ve mentioned before, half of my childhood dream jobs were not very law-abiding in nature. I was, however, a tad disappointed that there weren't more Con 101 lessons, but I understand why from the Responsible Adult viewpoint. If y'all want more Crime 101, watch Leverage and White Collar re-runs or something. Don't lie, I know you love them as much as I do.
Brynn is assigned the task of getting close to a Senator’s son and finding some dirt, any dirt. And as the con goes on, the lines start to blur for Brynn who’s used to running short cons, not long cons. She struggles with maintaining her multiple covers as Sarah, the bad girl who’s caught Grayson Sterling’s roving eye at a party, Brynn Hilder, the newest student at the prestigious boarding school who left Devon Park behind, Brynn Hilder, the girl being hunted down by her mom’s drug dealer boyfriend, and just Brynn. Y’all. I'm pretty much here for Brynn and her ability to balance The Con, starting a new life and trying to keep track of her old life and all its drama and still remembering that she is not a bad person at her core. I can barely remember to put on pants before walking the dogs in the morning. Two words, readers, door pants.
The Vale Hall Ravens are comprised of no more than twenty students at one time, but the story centres around the newest addition the Vale Hall, Brynn Hilder, as she goes about acclimating herself to her new life as a Raven. She forms friendships with a few of her new classmates/teammates but she's also wary of fully trusting any of them as she knows that if her past catches up with her and her cover as a student at a prestigious prep school is blown, she's screwed with nowhere to land since she burned her bridges back in Devon Park. And I can understand it, she doesn't want to go back to her dead-end school in her dead-end life and end up working at the sports bar with her mom for tips and go to a dead-end community college for a less-than-stellar diploma that won't hold up against someone else's fancy uni degree. Oh, look, that leads us to characters! I do love dishing about characters!
I found the central characters of The Deceivers well-developed and I had separation issues when it came to the end of the book. I just didn’t want to say goodbye to them. Brynn was your not-so-typical scrappy mixed-race protagonist with a burning desire to get the hell out of her neighbourhood and go to college and never come back. I totally related with her. My favourite character after Brynn was Henry, I love puppy dogs and Henry is the loyal pup you rescue from the pound and he smothers you with love and affection no matter what. He’s loyal to Caleb and loyal to Brynn and he’s ecstatic when he sees a smidgen of a connection between the two and will play cupid any chance he gets – any. Speaking of Caleb, Caleb is another mixed-race character and a pretty good chameleon. He goes from adorkable to not-bad boy hottie in seconds and I’m still not sure which I like better. Either way, that boy is Campbell’s Soup. (Yes, I did put that. Judge away. I never said I was cool.) Next, we have Charlotte. Charlotte is Brynn’s friend, dorm neighbour, and a mentor of sorts for her as well as she struggles to get her feet under her at Vale Hall. And I just want to make Charlotte some of my Chocolate Addict Cookies and set her in front of the telly for a Gilmore Girls session, okay?
My least favourite characters in The Deceivers were Geri, Dr Odin, and Pete. Geri is Vale Hall’s resident Mean Girl, she could have made Regina George cry. She was just flat-out horrid to Brynn from the get-go. And Dr Odin was a shark disguising himself as a friendly dolphin. He acts friendly, but time and time again, there were little hints of the teeth. And what kind of grown man sends kids out into dangerous situations with sketchy people to find dirt for him in exchange for whatever the kid desperately wants or needs? This is classic abuser grooming behaviour and I'm honestly afraid for the Ravens' and how Dr Odin would react if they were to fail him in a major fashion. Pete is Brynn’s mom’s abusive dirtbag boyfriend who’s a drug dealer and he’s all sorts of nasty and I would just really enjoy setting that offal-masquerading-as-a-human-being on fire.
I did love the diversity we saw in the characters and in some of the scenes (you’ll know when you read!). There are POC and culture and it isn’t a ‘trying too hard’ thing. It is having characters of colour and letting them be themselves. This book is colourful, and I love it for that! Kids like myself and the author need books that have main characters that are like ourselves, just like everybody else, mixed and living their lives, some of us basking in our various cultures and others just acknowledging their heritage occasionally. It’s all good and that’s some representation I adore. And that’s my little soapbox moment.
Now, The Deceivers was born from Norse mythology (it is not a retelling, people, listen!) and there are so many obvious nods to the lore throughout the book. The biggest nod of all is, of course, The Con, since Norse deities were famous for tricking one another. Okay, they were famous for the bloodshed too, but we’re talking cons. The Con is the theme, okay. Our protagonist is Brynn Hilder and she gets her name from the famed Valkyrie, Brynhildr. The god, Odin, the all-father, would send his ravens, Huginn and Muninn, out to collect information for him so he could become the wisest of all. Likewise, Dr Odin sends Vale Hall’s Ravens out to collect secrets for him to use to make the world a better place. I shan’t go further on this vein though, because I want you to dive into The Deceivers and see if you can spot other nods to the pantheon and the legends surrounding them.
Now, this is a rather long review and I apologise, I apparently had a lot to say and I’ve rewritten this a few dozen times trying to shorten it but we’re over 1400 words (1433!) and I’m saying we’re done before y’all start finding some pitchforks and torches. I’m giving Kristen Simmons’ The Deceivers 5 stars of gloriousness because I loved this book from start to finish and Ms Simmons managed to slip a con past me when I thought I knew everything. So, I tip my hat to her.
I recommend this book to anybody who is looking for a YA read that is a smidgen romantic, a bit of a mystery, a little reminiscent of Leverage (if you haven’t seen Leverage, we need to talk, honey), and is a definite thriller.
This book was very different than Kristen's usual genre, dystopian, and I loved it. In fact I finished it in one day. I had to! And I absolutely can't wait to jump into book 2 of the Vale Hall series, Scammed.
In The Deceivers, Brynn tries to earn college money by doing cons. She lives in a horrible part of the city and her mother's boyfriend is a big time drug lord, who abuses Brynn's mom. Brynn wants to escape her life and make something of herself.
Brynn is sought after for her con skills and is invited into an elite private school, where the main curriculum is learning to be a con artist.
I thought this story was intriguing and the pacing was perfect. I loved Brynn, and Caleb, and Henry, and Charlotte... I couldn't get enough, actually.
I can't wait to see what's next for the students of Yale Hall.
I got a real kick out of reading the acknowledgments. It became apparent just how clever the author was. Simmons starts off telling how The Deceivers was inspired by the myth of Valhalla. Valhalla became Vale Hall. Brynhildr became our protagonist Brynn Hilder. Dr. Odin sends his students out to gather secrets instead of souls. It was all very imaginative storytelling and I applaud Simmon’s creativity.
I’m very glad we’re getting more books in the series. Excited to see where the story is headed next.
>I am an independent reviewer. This book is the 1st in the Vale Hall series and ends in an HEA, for now. Brynn is a poor girl, living with her mom and Pete, her mom’s abusive, drug dealing boyfriend. Brynn is really smart and turns to cons to make money she is saving for college. She catches the attention of Dr. O, the proprietor of Vale Hall. Vale Hall is a prestigious prep school for con artists. In this school, Brynn can escape the danger of her life and hone her questionable abilities to scam.
>On the surface, the school seems like a lifeline, but after a while Brynn wonders if what they are doing is for the greater good or just to benefit Dr. O. The students at the school are fun and interesting characters. Henry is a source of humor and Caleb is a maybe love interest with a secret. There is a mean girl and a gruff teacher/bodyguard to round out the secondary characters. The story is funny when the kids go to regular classes, but also have classes on how to con. Their field trips to practice techniques were so funny.
>The story is all about lies, so the red herrings abound as Brynn tries to keep a situation she is in controlled. Each kid gets an assignment they must successfully complete in order to stay at the school. Watching Brynn con her way in to situations she knows nothing about is fascinating. Her mark is the rich son of a senator. She has to befriend him and learn his secrets. The situation gets sticky as her con overlaps with her mom’s drug dealing boyfriend.
>This book is appropriate for a young adult (16+) audience. I am giving this book 5 stars. I love not really knowing who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.