The Scam List by Kurt Dinan
The premise: Meet the best teen con artist team around. Boone McReedy: high school conman, smooth-talking charmer, and the idiot who just got scammed out of $15,000 of his mom’s money.
Darby West: ass-kicker, straight-shooter, and Boone’s ex-girlfriend.
Now they must team up to save their parents’ businesses, one con at a time. That is, if they don’t kill each other first. Of course they’re only going to scam people who deserve it.
That’s a promise. Would they lie to you?
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
My thoughts: Overall 4.5/5 stars. This book was great! If you’re looking for a light-hearted story, full of humor, but not devoid of theme, this one’s for you. The plot kept my attention, without being saturated with tension. It remained unpredictable in a satisfying way— the twists are clever and appropriate, such that they make sense without being obvious.
On the heavier side, the themes include parental abandonment and defining morality. The writing itself was tight. There was enough description to immerse the reader, but not enough to hinder the pace. Similarly, the characterization was wonderfully balanced. Darby, and her anti-misogynistic agenda, (especially from a male author) were both hilarious and welcome. A strong female character who is actually strong and capable? Love it. Even better was her small/young martial arts student who could take down guys much bigger than she was (and had no reservations doing so).
Despite the great characterization and plot, with characters growing throughout the story without changing who they are fundamentally, I still wanted more. Namely, I wished more of Boone’s changes (and perhaps more change to occur in general) came from an intrinsic desire, rather than pressure from those around him.
While I highly recommend this book, I give it a 4.5 instead of a 5. Beyond the aforementioned character growth issue, I also know it’s not going to be a favorite of mine. Some of this is likely personal taste. I like characters who are empathetic and want to be the best version of themselves. Some of it is also the fact that while I was entertained while reading, the characters and plot haven’t stayed with me beyond the ending. The themes were great, but there wasn’t a profoundly different take on them, nor anything else to keep me thinking. Which is great if that’s what you like in books!