A doctored video showing Jackson Greene and his eighth-grade friends sneaking in to clog Maplewood Middle School toilets pulls the former prankster and his crew into an elaborate set of strategies to catch the perpetrator and foil a couple of would-be cheaters in the process.
When two classmates use the video to enlist them in their quest to obtain the answers to their history teacher’s dreaded final exam, Jackson and best friend Charlie de la Cruz have to resolve simmering differences and cooperate to puzzle out the point of the scheme and nail the schemer. At the same time, Jackson is trying to work up the courage (and set an elaborate stage) to kiss Charlie’s twin sister, Gaby, now formally Jackson’s girlfriend. An intricate plot, fast-paced action, short chapters, and changing perspectives characterize this smartly structured tale, a follow-up to Johnson’s original caper, The Great Greene Heist (2014). The author smoothly introduces the main characters and back story. With plentiful references to Star Wars and other movies, cartoons, and esoteric trivia (helpfully explained in the backmatter), as well as cutting-edge technology, he also offers a convincing portrayal of a likable and highly diverse group of geeky middle school students, eager to outwit the bad guys, authority, and sometimes one another.
A satisfying stand-alone sequel; new readers and old friends will be hoping for further adventures. (Fiction. 10-15)