Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday-- The Great Greene Heist

Johnson, Varian. The Great Greene Heist
May 27th 2014 by Arthur A. Levine Books
E ARC from; copy also from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there

Jackson Greene, who learned cons from his grandfather and who has followed in his older brother's footsteps in perpetrating them, has given up his life of crime. He's run awful of Keith Sinclair, but now finds that he was not a good enemy to make. Keith is bound and determined to win the election for school president so he can funnel money into his own activities and take it away from everyone else. Keith's rich father has bribed the principal to make this happen. Still, when Jackson decides that the best way to avoid his groups losing money is to have his former girlfriend, Gaby, run, he has a lot of work to do. This involves a lot of friends with odd technical skills, breaking and entering, reformatting a Scantron machine, and a suspicious amount of money. Add to this the trauma of a formal middle school dance, and Jackson has his work cut out for him.
Strengths: This has gotten a huge amount of buzz, from a glowing review from Betsy Bird to a whole internet campaign from Kate Messner. Everyone is thrilled that there are diverse characters. The writing is fine in this one, and students who enjoyed The Fourth Stall will like this one. It's hard to find funny books for boys, so I will definitely be purchasing this one.
Weaknesses: This is the sort of book that I PERSONALLY find completely unrealistic. Ms. Betsy Bird describes this as a sort of fantasy book, and that is definitely the case. This is set in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, which is where I am, so I had a hard time believing all of the following: A rich parent was bribing the principal; the secretary could get away with such racist comments; club funding was dependent on student input at all; there was funding for student clubs; children were able to break into the school; children were able to break into the office; the office had a super special lock; the office blindly agrees to accept a new scantron machine and have the old one taken away without any identification or notification from the "company"; there was a school president, and the election was a big deal; there was a formal dance at a middle school for which girls got formals and boys rented tuxes.

Your average 12 year old will not only believe that these things can happen, but will hope that they do! They do make for a very funny (if unrealistic to adults) book!


  1. Anonymous8:55 AM EDT

    First off I like your superhero name! Personally I think you also need a Rockstar name...cause you are one! Thanks for your thoughts on The Great Greene Heist. Have not read it yet, but will AND I could well land on the side of love, lol...I think fantasy sounds about right based on some of things you mention about the book!

  2. I have been looking forward to hearing your opinion of this book! I think you're right - it's fine, but it's not amazing. And I also thought immediately of Fourth Stall. Very similar.

    I read this article in The Atlantic that I thought was interesting: s-more-mediocrity/371639/ I think it comes to a nice compromise between "this is the best book ever" and "this book's diversity is important."

  3. Good points about the book! I don't read much Middle Grade or, currently, know any one in that age bracket, so I'll skip this one. I'll pick up Stormbreaker instead!

  4. I'll check this one out--I missed the buzz, so that's good, I think... This review made me curious.

    I like your superhero name, too :-)

  5. Ehhh, unrealistic but fantastic, fantastic is good :D I've never heard of this one!

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  6. Anonymous3:56 AM EDT

    Your knowledge of the target readership is something g it seems this author would have benefited from getting before writing this book. You'd have thought some basic research would have helped avoid the I probabilities in the plot.

  7. Quote:
    "Your average 12 year old will not only believe that these things can happen, but will hope that they do! "
    Of course, reading (like watching a movie or a TV show) most of the time requires that infamous suspension of disbelief Coleridge talked about. On the other hand, I suppose there should be some resemblance of truth, even in a MG book. Or at least it would be better not to fill the book with unrealistic things, but just stick to a minimum of them ;).

    Your blog's aim is quite unique, and I'm sure you are a huge help for your students. Though I do believe you when you say it can be exhausting!

  8. Anonymous8:56 AM EDT

    I love this post, Read-a-tron. Tee hee hee. This sounds great. I will be sure to pass it along to the MG in my life.

  9. I haven't read this one so I don't know how I feel about it yet. But boy howdy do I understand "Everyone else loves this so what on earth am I missing?" Or the flip side. Stick with your instincts. They serve you well. ;)