The Deceivers
384p. Tor Teen. Feb. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250175793.
Gr 8 Up—Brynn Hilder is from the wrong side of town but is determined to make a better life for herself by keeping up her grades, running a few cons to make money, and steering clear of her stepdad's drug dealing. Then she's given the opportunity of a lifetime—a spot at an exclusive private school where she can learn to become a better con artist. Suddenly she has new friends, a new wardrobe, and a director who promises to make all of her college scholarship dreams come true. If it seems too good to be true, that's because Brynn will soon learn just how dangerous her new life can be and how many risks she must take in order to keep her place. Billed as "Pretty Little Liars" meets Oceans 8, this novel falls short of truly delivering either, held back by allusions to action rather than the real deal. The characters are all older teens, operating in a world full of sex, drugs, and violence, yet the language and tone of the book is rather tame. A male Asian character is cast as the main love interest, and Simmons pulls off a nuanced and positive representation.
VERDICT Recommended for younger teens looking to dip their toes in more mature content but not quite ready for the hard stuff.

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