Monday, August 11, 2014

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

  • Publication Date:
  • Pages: 240
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic)

The Great Greene Heist caught my attention during the #weneeddiversebooks campaign when John Green promised 10 signed copies of TFiOS to any bookstore who hand sold 100 copies of The Great Greene Heist. The synopsis felt Curseworker-ish (sans magic), which was enough for me to delve into reading my first Middle Grade as an adult. 13-year-old con artist Jackson Greene is cleaning up his act. After the Kelsey Job, or the Mid-Day PDA as his friends have dubbed his last con, Jackson is hanging up his cons for good. That is until he gets recruited by his best friend Charlie de la Cruz to rig the school election for his sister Gabby, the girl whose heart Jackson will do anything to fix. The atmosphere in this novel felt very campy and sort of like a satire. I don’t know if this is a typical of middle grade or if it’s just this novel. The students exist in a school where they are never in class, principals easily accept bribes and all clubs have a budget that the school council president controls. As I read this I imagine it as more as a cartoon or Nickelodeon sitcom than real life. As evident by the cover, there is a diverse cast of characters. Johnson's use of third person lends itself well to covering the characters. The students all fall into cliques, so there is the art kid, the environmentalist, the hacker and their designations are enforced by the clubs they belong to. The heist elements were fun and of course it had the big reveal at the end. The reveals kind of sped up towards the end and the narrative jumped around a lot, so I was a little confused on what exactly happened. This book had a lot more romantic plots than I was expecting in middle grade. I think I still need to get more comfortable with reading MG as it's own genre because I was always like "if this was a YA they would have..." or they probably couldn't do that. Some of my favorite parts had to be the nerd culture references and the doses of humor. Overall, I enjoyed this book and coming off a few more denser reads it was nice to have something light I could read in a course of day. I think this book could set up well for a series!

*Requested for review from NetGalley

Another reason I picked this book up is because Varian Johnson is from the same town as my parents!


  1. I go back and forth with MG. Often it feels too juvenile. Disneyfied. But sometimes it's good enough to overlook that. Or a decent writer actually doesn't dumb it down. Then again, maybe kids like that. Not sure. This looks like a cute enough story. I'm intrigued by the nerd culture references.

  2. Yes, Disneyfied is the perfect word for it ! The references are mostly to Star Trek / Star Wars...I think it's amazing how those references stay apart of pop culture generation after generation.


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