Review: The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

the great greene heist by varian johnson

Saving the school — one con at a time.

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.

Description taken from Goodreads.

I really, really wanted to like this book. Love this book, since it comes so highly recommended from some of my favorite names in middle-grade fiction, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I mean–I did like it. It wasn’t bad. It has a plot that I’ve seen before a lot, with very similar themes, to books like Ungifted by Gordon Korman and The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander. On top of all that, it has an incredibly diverse cast.

I think the number one reason why I couldn’t fully enjoy this book is how unrealistic it seems at times. I don’t think it’ll bother middle-graders and younger too much, but teens won’t be fooled by it at all and middle-graders might be a little iffy. The school within THE GREAT GREEN HEIST feels like something out of a type of public school a long time ago, when kids could actually get away with pranks and breaking into the school and not be charged with assault, suspension and worse. I think that for older kids, UNGIFTED would be a better book and THE FOURTH STALL would be better for kids who need humor in their stories.

As for a place for THE GREAT GREENE HEIST, this book would be a great one for fans of the stories previously mentioned and also as a follow-up type of novel. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the cast and the plot–while a little scattered at times. I can see elements of why people liked it so much, and I did too, but I wouldn’t recommend it right away. 3.5 stars.


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