After an embezzlement fiasco sends their school into bankruptcy, four teens with little in common unite to pull off a massive heist in order to save it.
This first offering from a publisher that repurposes abandoned intellectual property (apparently mostly movies ideas) brings together a slacker, a nerd, an athlete and a teacher’s pet. Given this origin story, readers should probably not be surprised to find that Ludwig has crafted a Breakfast Club for millennials—but not without some bumps. The heist elements are perfectly serviceable, but the strength of this novel version is in the character-work. This band of rogues is infinitely more interesting than the con they’re trying to pull off, with revolving point-of-view chapters further fleshing them out as the novel carries on. The heist is certainly imaginative, but when the novel pulls away from Dakota’s perfection complex or Jason’s inferiority issues to look at security measures and hacker nonsense, it’s hard to avoid feeling let down. The two components—character and plot—can’t work together when one so clearly outshines the other, and the result is an uneven read. Underlining this issue is the finale, which feels rushed and cut short, as if the author doesn’t know what to do with these people once the titular event has taken place.
Frustratingly erratic. (Thriller. 12-16)