Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Publisher: Dial Books
Skip O’Rourke is dragged into one last con . . . but he doesn’t know the con’s on him in this funny, page-turning debut YA for fans of Winger and Ocean’s Eleven.
Cameron Smith attends an elite boarding school and has just been accepted to Princeton University alongside his beautiful girlfriend, Claire. Life for Cameron would be perfect, except that Cameron Smith is actually Skip O’Rourke, and Skip O’Rourke ran away from his grifter family four years ago…along with $100,000 of their “earnings” (because starting a new life is not cheap). But when his uncle Wonderful tracks him down, Skip’s given an ultimatum: come back to the family for one last con, or say good-bye to life as Cameron.
“One last con” is easier said than done when Skip’s family is just as merciless (and just as manipulative) as they’ve always been, and everyone around him is lying. Skip may have given up on crime, but there’s one lesson he hasn’t forgotten: always know your mark. And if you don’t know who your mark is . . . it’s probably you.
Witty and irresistibly readable, this standout debut will always keep you guessing. (courtesy of Goodreads)
This is a fine book. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. It's worth reading, but not one of my favorites. I feel bad damning a book with faint praise. I didn't dislike it. I just can't honestly come up with a rave review.
Part of the problem is I've read this before. I feel like teenage con artists are an emerging trend. I read a similar book last year - Con Academy - that also took place in a boarding school with a kid who'd conned his way in. The plot of each book is different, but the similar framework is impossible to miss. Ironically, I only liked, not loved that book too, but I still compare it more favorably to this book. Part of that is because I read it first - so not this book's fault. That's the risk you take when publishing a trendy book. Others may get there first.
Everyone in this book is vaguely horrible. Skip is the most likable. He has a healthy dose of skepticism, resentment, and an inferiority complex. But he's hard-working, resourceful and clever. His family are totally deplorable. They play on Skip's naivete and the tiny amount of trust he has left for his family. Then there's Claire, Skip's wealthy girlfriend. She was basically just there to serve as the main character's girlfriend and eventually as a plot device. Yeah...
The plot kept me entertained. There are plenty of twists and turns as the planned con turns into an entirely different con. Skip is able to keep up better at sometimes than at others. I felt bad for the poor kid as he had to maneuver his way through a con that he didn't want to be involved with.
All in all an okay book. It'll appeal to boy readers which is not something enough YA books are able to do.