Will Shea, an orphan from a remote South Pacific island, is on a scholarship at the very prestigious private Connaughton Academy. What his classmates and school administration don’t know is that Will is actually a talented conman from New Jersey who has scammed his way into the school’s hallowed halls. Andrea Dufresne, a classmate and fellow con artist, knows that the school is too small for both of them to operate so to rectify the situation the two make a bet: the first to fleece the chosen mark wins the right to stay at Connaughton Academy, while the other must leave. As the con progresses, friendships and family ties are put to the test, and soon Will uncovers a school secret that could potentially ruin careers and lives.
What first attracted me to Con Academy was the cover – I admit that I often choose books this way and am a sucker for a pretty cover. That being said, the blurb intrigued me and, in fact, the first few chapters hooked me, with the author’s fresh writing and snappy dialogue. I thought ‘hey, this is going to be very fun Sunday read’. Unfortunately, just as quickly the writing and storyline progression just started falling apart. All these potentially intriguing characters were being introduced, ones that I considered to be important to the story, but they all seemed two-dimensional and flat. This holds true for the con itself; here’s a plot point that really the entire book is based on and it just hangs there, underdeveloped and not really invoking interest from the reader. It’s as if Con Academy was written for a reader with a very short attention span, so, in order not to lose them and keep them entertained, everything had to be wrapped up quickly and neatly without too many twists or turns.
As for Will, who is supposed to be this amazing conman, I found his character to be lacklustre and not at all charismatic, or charming as would be expected of someone in this type of role. The entire time I was reading, I had to keep reminding myself of who the author was portraying Will and Andrea to be, but all I could think of was that they were just two kids, two regular teenagers playing a childish game.
Now we come to the recommendation part and although I have lukewarm feelings for this book and personally didn’t love it, I think it’s more maybe because of my age and certain expectations I have from the books I read. So, taking that into consideration, I would still recommend Con Academy, but for a younger audience. It’s being marketed to 14 years and up but I’d recommend it to the 12-14 year olds. Maybe I’ll get my 14 year old to read it, see what she thinks.
I give Con Academy 2.5/5 stars.
Goodreads Seasonal Reading Challenge Task 25.1 – The Fall Months.
Thank you to Goodreads First Reads and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.