The Deceivers (Vale Hall, #1)
Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean's 11 in this intrigue-filled contemporary drama from acclaimed author Kristen Simmons.Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom's loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials--because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that's before she meets her mark--a senator's son--and before she discovers the school's headmaster has secrets he'll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she's in way over head.

The Deceivers (Vale Hall, #1) Details

TitleThe Deceivers (Vale Hall, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 5th, 2019
PublisherRecorded Books
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy

The Deceivers (Vale Hall, #1) Review

  • Candace Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    This was a fun book! I liked the idea of cons! Brynn was a good character, too. I liked her and learning about her backstory while watching her grow as a character!Caleb, Caleb, Caleb! I loved his character and there were some seriously cute moments. Also, as for other side characters, Pete was a douchebag! Actually, a lot of people were douchebags!There were twists and turns and lots of pretty and unpretty lies that made things very intriguing. The author weaved together a pretty addicting stor This was a fun book! I liked the idea of cons! Brynn was a good character, too. I liked her and learning about her backstory while watching her grow as a character!Caleb, Caleb, Caleb! I loved his character and there were some seriously cute moments. Also, as for other side characters, Pete was a douchebag! Actually, a lot of people were douchebags!There were twists and turns and lots of pretty and unpretty lies that made things very intriguing. The author weaved together a pretty addicting story!
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  • Olivia & Lori (The Candid Cover)
    January 1, 1970
    Full Review on The Candid CoverThe Deceivers by Kristen Simmons is the kind of book I knew I would enjoy the second I read the summary. For starters, the story is about a school for con artists and is filled with secrecy. I especially the unique and twisty plot and the strong main character. Fans of Ally Carter will definitely enjoy this suspenseful drama.❀ SUSPENSEFUL AND COMPLEXThis book tells the story of a mysterious school of elites which is actually grounds for creating young con artists. Full Review on The Candid CoverThe Deceivers by Kristen Simmons is the kind of book I knew I would enjoy the second I read the summary. For starters, the story is about a school for con artists and is filled with secrecy. I especially the unique and twisty plot and the strong main character. Fans of Ally Carter will definitely enjoy this suspenseful drama.❀ SUSPENSEFUL AND COMPLEXThis book tells the story of a mysterious school of elites which is actually grounds for creating young con artists. For Brynn, acceptance into Vale Hall is a dream come true and the chance to escape her mom’s drug dealer boyfriend. I enjoyed reading about the assignments given to Brynn and the students and the plot twists throughout the book. There is so much action as secrets are uncovered and obstacles from Brynn’s old life arise. Ultimately, this is a suspenseful and complex book that raises the question of morality.❀ WELL-DEVELOPED CHARACTERSI enjoyed Brynn’s character and her strength. She is intelligent and has the sense to weigh the pros and cons of her assignments at Vale Hall. She also doesn’t back down from a challenge and commits to her tasks 100%. I enjoyed how she has some street smarts as well thanks to her mom’s boyfriend, but also how she doesn’t complain about her life before the school. The side characters and Brynn’s acquaintances at the school are also well-developed and have their own skills.❀ FAST-PACEDThe Deceivers is a fast-paced novel filled with secrecy. I loved the original school for con artists and the clever main character. I am excited to see what other deceptions will be occur in the sequel.
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  • Lili Marcus
    January 1, 1970
    Check Out My Blog: Lili's Blissful PagesThis book is marketed as Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11 and I agree. It sets in Vale Hall, a school for con artists and this is what made me requested this book from Netgalley. I was really intrigued. And it features Brynn Hilder, a teen who wants to escape her miserable life and thinks Vale Hall is her chance with a promise from Vale Hall’s Owner/Director, Dr. David Odin of a great future. But still Brynn has to do her best to survive in a place fil Check Out My Blog: Lili's Blissful PagesThis book is marketed as Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11 and I agree. It sets in Vale Hall, a school for con artists and this is what made me requested this book from Netgalley. I was really intrigued. And it features Brynn Hilder, a teen who wants to escape her miserable life and thinks Vale Hall is her chance with a promise from Vale Hall’s Owner/Director, Dr. David Odin of a great future. But still Brynn has to do her best to survive in a place filled with cons and aspiring cons.This book is totally unexpected. It started mediocre but as I read, it got more and more interesting until I was totally hooked. The writing didn’t even interest me. What made me keep reading is the plot itself. I was really interested how things would go, who are the other deceivers, what really happens in a school of cons, who is David Odin (really he is the best character), and who’s telling lies or truths. I wanna know what happens in the end, I want the reveals so I kept reading. And I was not disappointed.The reveals are fine and this book has some underlying themes I’m really fascinated at. Like Odin’s principle on why he founded Vale Hall.I didn’t really find Brynn that interesting at first few chapters. I couldn’t even relate or give sympathy to her because I just don’t feel her. But she grew on me eventually. On the other hand, I love Caleb. He’s so sweet and thoughtful and I just wanna grab him and take him out of Vale Hall. He needs to be in a real University and be an architect someday. The other students, are okay , some of them are pretty well-rounded while others, I think, need more character arcs. But they’re found family so I’m contented. My favorite would be Odin. He got these layers of himself going on and he made me question things, of the things I believe in. He’s a bad influence. Haha.Overall, this is a fine read but still can be more. This is my first from this author but won’t be the last.I was provided a copy by the publisher/author thru Netgalley. Thank you.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillian-Tor/Forge for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest reviewI rarely (if ever)would state this in a book review, but the whole concept of a group of teenagers at an elite con artist school would be electric on television,but failed to initiate any type of feeling during my reading experience. I am putting this at a 2 star because I felt as if I was wading through mud to reach the end of the book. However as I am way below the average rating of the book, it's possib Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillian-Tor/Forge for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest reviewI rarely (if ever)would state this in a book review, but the whole concept of a group of teenagers at an elite con artist school would be electric on television,but failed to initiate any type of feeling during my reading experience. I am putting this at a 2 star because I felt as if I was wading through mud to reach the end of the book. However as I am way below the average rating of the book, it's possible it's "me not them" type of feeling.
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  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    4 starsI really enjoyed The Deceivers, just as I enjoyed reading Pacifica last year! Kristen Simmons is wonderful at creating enjoyable, unputdownable YA that’s entertaining and well-plotted enough that it keeps you on your toes! This book was just a really great book at keeping you entertained and engaged and invested, while also keeping things real. I mean, Kristen Simmons is a wonderful author for getting really great mixed race rep (and it’s not for diversity points) and she also touches on 4 starsI really enjoyed The Deceivers, just as I enjoyed reading Pacifica last year! Kristen Simmons is wonderful at creating enjoyable, unputdownable YA that’s entertaining and well-plotted enough that it keeps you on your toes! This book was just a really great book at keeping you entertained and engaged and invested, while also keeping things real. I mean, Kristen Simmons is a wonderful author for getting really great mixed race rep (and it’s not for diversity points) and she also touches on some of the socioeconomic barriers that exist, especially as the main character, Brynn, has to catch up with her school work at Vale Hall. I was just sucked into the story–not only do I enjoy reading a good boarding-school sort of story, but the con artist part of the plot was so much fun and something I think Simmons did so well with! Some of Brynn’s cons had me holding my breath, and Brynn gets into a lot of spicy situations. And besides what was happening in the moment, I also really enjoyed how it still had a big, overarching plot for the series. So even though this book had its plot resolved pretty well, there are still a lot of things going on with Brynn and Vale Hall that have me itching for book 2. Plus, I loved the romance, which is really unlike me? Simmons did a great job of building the chemistry (also, the slipped in “Is this okay?” was top notch and super smooth) and I love love loved the relationship between Brynn and Caleb! I think one of the best parts of this book was just how Simmons balanced out all of Brynn’s life–what she had going on with her mother and her past, what her assignment at Vale Hall is, dealing with new friends–and also how Simmons somehow made it all connect in a sorta mind-blowing way? The ending had me gaping, that’s for sure. I guess the reason that this is a 4 and not higher (I’d honestly rate it 4.25 if I believed in quarter stars) is just because I was looking for just a little bit more mischief? Just a couple scenes felt wrapped up a little too neatly and when they had me holding my breath at the start of the scene, had me not holding it by the end and the excitement dropped a little bit where I think Simmons could have built up the heart-poundingness. But overall, I definitely enjoyed reading and would not let this dissuade you from picking The Deceivers up! Seriously, it’s a lot of fun and really entertaining, yet with enough substance that it’s a book you enjoy and feel good reading, if that makes sense?If you like boarding school novels, books about cons, and lots of fun and action, I would suggest you check The Deceivers out! It was really enjoyable to read and something I think a lot of people won’t realize is a wonderful book, but actually is. Thank you so much to Tor Teen and Netgalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!Blog | Instagram | Twitter
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  • Katie McGarry
    January 1, 1970
    Loved!
  • Malanie
    January 1, 1970
    I really need to stop reading book that aren't The Foxhole Court. rtc| ✨TWITTER ✨| ✨BLOG ✨|✨ BOOKSTAGRAM✨ |
  • Rachel Strolle
    January 1, 1970
    SO SO SO GOODHonestly, Kristen gets better with each book and holy fork this kept my attention
  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    You can also read my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....I was super excited for this one. As soon as I got my hands on a review copy I had to read it. I love novels about con artists, thieves and criminals and this novel combined that with a boarding school setting. Immediately upon picking this up I was reminded of Ally Carter and Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I had such high expectations for this novel, and while it was really good, it fell short in places for me. The idea was great, You can also read my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....I was super excited for this one. As soon as I got my hands on a review copy I had to read it. I love novels about con artists, thieves and criminals and this novel combined that with a boarding school setting. Immediately upon picking this up I was reminded of Ally Carter and Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I had such high expectations for this novel, and while it was really good, it fell short in places for me. The idea was great, but the execution could have been much better.The pacing of this novel was a lot slower than I would have liked. I picked this up because I was starting to fall into a fantasy reading slump and I was hoping this would grab me and keep me on the edge of my seat. But instead I found it rather easy to set down. It started off really strong, so I expected it to maintain a fast and thrilling pace, in that aspect I was disappointed though.However, the plot was pretty interesting. I love the idea of an elite private school for con artists. Some of the scenes were so much fun to read, like a field trip to practice cons. At the end of the novel there were a bunch of twists that I didn’t see coming. There could have been so much more to this story to make it better and while I did love the plot, I just expected a lot more out of this story.I did like the characters, they are a little morally corrupt, but honestly, not as morally corrupt as I would expect a bunch of teenage con artists to be. I had some issues with the character development though. This was a case where the author told things rather than showed us them. The attempt at making these characters seem multi-layered came off as superficial. I really wanted to be more emotionally invested in these characters.I really wanted to love this novel. It had a great idea, fun setting and even a decent plot, but it fell short of my expectations. The pacing was slow and The Deceivers took me a while to finally finish. I did like the characters, but I felt like they came across a bit superficial despite attempts by the author to give them layers. I did enjoy reading this one, but I had a lot of issues with it and thought it could have been a lot better.
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  • Ivy
    January 1, 1970
    I *CLAP* stan *CLAP* anything *CLAP* that *CLAP* sounds *CLAP* like *CLAP* an *CLAP* Ally *CLAP* Carter *CLAP* book *CLAP*
  • Jessi (Novel Heartbeat)
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely adore Kristen Simmons, you guys! I always enjoy everything she writes and this book was no different. Well, it was very different for Kristen, but I enjoyed it all the same! This is her first contemporary - everything else has been sci-fi. And she rocked it! I loved the idea of the book - a school for con artists! It was oh so fun and unlike any other contemp I've ever read.Brynn was such a relatable character. She comes from nothing, basically, and has to scrape and steal to get b I absolutely adore Kristen Simmons, you guys! I always enjoy everything she writes and this book was no different. Well, it was very different for Kristen, but I enjoyed it all the same! This is her first contemporary - everything else has been sci-fi. And she rocked it! I loved the idea of the book - a school for con artists! It was oh so fun and unlike any other contemp I've ever read.Brynn was such a relatable character. She comes from nothing, basically, and has to scrape and steal to get by. I felt that on a cellular level (the scraping, not the stealing lol). The opportunity to be handed a full scholarship and everything you've ever wanted is probably a dream that all of us lower class people can relate to. How amazing would it be to have room and board paid for?! I got a bit dreamy over Brynn's acceptance into Vale Hall. (I totally want to go to Vale Hall mwahahaha.)Speaking of Vale Hall - I love Kristen's inspiration from Norse mythology! She was inspired by Valhalla and the valkyries that collect souls - instead of collecting souls, the students collect secrets! Awesome, right?! The director's name is Dr. Odin (like the Allfather!) and the main character, Brynn Hilder, is named after the famous valkyrie Brynhildr. There's also a lot of other references in the character's names and their roles. I thought it was awesome how Kristen hid those little easter eggs throughout the book!Like I said, this book is so fun! It's full of secrets, lies, and betrayal (oh my!) and has a few nice little twists in there to keep you on your toes. You never know what will happen next, I love how unexpected this book was!I also want to add in a little side note: I went to the launch for the book (Kristen is local so I get to go to all of her events!) and she talked a lot about her inspiration for the book and some famous con artists that inspired her and it was so fun to hear her talk about it! She gets so excited when she talks about con artists, it's adorable!This review was originally posted on Novel Heartbeat. To see a breakdown of my assessment, please visit the full review here.
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  • Sara (A Gingerly Review)
    January 1, 1970
    What a fun read! I cannot wait to write my review. I already want more Vale Hall books.
  • Paula Phillips
    January 1, 1970
    She has brought to the Modern world this contemporary version of the Valhalla story. We have Brynn Hilder who is surviving as well as she can grow up in the rugged Devon Estates. She has learned to become a good con artist to raise money to go to college as her job cleaning the libraries won't get her there as fast as she planned. Her mother's current boyfriend Pete is the local drug dealer, and when he steals her savings, Brynn needs a new plan quickly. This leads her to follow a boy who has be She has brought to the Modern world this contemporary version of the Valhalla story. We have Brynn Hilder who is surviving as well as she can grow up in the rugged Devon Estates. She has learned to become a good con artist to raise money to go to college as her job cleaning the libraries won't get her there as fast as she planned. Her mother's current boyfriend Pete is the local drug dealer, and when he steals her savings, Brynn needs a new plan quickly. This leads her to follow a boy who has been casing her the last few days, and she stumbles upon a private game where the prize is the prestige entry to Vale Hill Estate. If she gets in, she will be set for life and have her pick of any college. With nothing to lose, she enters and has a fun night out. Not thinking much of it, since she gave a fake name and all she heads to bed. Only for the next morning, she is awoken and told she has an interview at the mysterious Vale Hill. Brynn arrives, and it's like a dream come true, the thing is that this isn't any ordinary school but a school where they teach you to become con artists, spies, and thieves. A school where collecting secrets is their currency. Brynn has been given a choice - gather all she can on Grayson Sterling and be part of the school or turn it down and go back to her life as she knew it. Brynn agrees, and her life is changed as she is thrown into a world of secrets, lies and not knowing who she can trust? Is Brynn as she digs deeper and falls into the world of Valhalla Academy cut out for this lifestyle? Knowing the truth of who Dr. Odin is and why he picked Brynn at the end of the book - will she continue to study at Vale or will she take the knowledge she has and her existence wiped as Margot's - the girl before hers was? Find out in the first book of The Valhalla Academy - Deceivers by Kristen Simmons. This series fans of Gallagher Girls and Heist Society by Ally Carter will enjoy.
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  • Erin Arkin
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this and everyone should read it!
  • Stacy Fetters
    January 1, 1970
    "But careful isn’t an option. Careful is a luxury you have when your baseline isn’t chaos. When every decision isn’t determined by a calculated risk. In lives like ours, you grasp onto those who understand you, or you face every obstacle alone."This is the first book by Kristen Simmons that I’ve ever read and it won’t be the last. I own books by her but I’m not sure why I haven’t read them. This book is going to make me bump those up my tbr list. Ocean's Eleven meets Pretty Little Liars in this "But careful isn’t an option. Careful is a luxury you have when your baseline isn’t chaos. When every decision isn’t determined by a calculated risk. In lives like ours, you grasp onto those who understand you, or you face every obstacle alone."This is the first book by Kristen Simmons that I’ve ever read and it won’t be the last. I own books by her but I’m not sure why I haven’t read them. This book is going to make me bump those up my tbr list. Ocean's Eleven meets Pretty Little Liars in this fun and mysterious school for Con Artists. Brynn hasn't ever had it easy. Her Dad passed away suddenly when he was shot at work and her Mom decided to strike up a love interest in someone who disrespects them both and does some underhanded things to make money. To say that Brynn's life sucks would be quite the understatement. One day as she's pulling her con on some unsuspecting people, a boy with a raven crest on his shirt starts to follow Brynn. She thinks it's a coincidence at first but then becomes freaked as he starts showing up where she works. She does the next best thing and starts to follow him. He lures her into a secluded spot where other teenagers are hanging out and then the games start to begin. The newbies are put through a test. They have to go to the Senator's mansion and get the son to agree to a date with them and then they'll get an invite to one of the most prestigious private schools. Brynn needed an out and this is her chance and she's not going to blow this. Brynn blows the competition out of the water and she now has her foot in the door, but at what costs? Secrets start to pile up and Brynn starts to feel the pressure of overwhelming proportions. Pulling Cons on people she's starting to care about is harder than she thought. Can she figure out her home life and her life at school before they both come crashing down around her? This book had a lot of shocking twists and none of them were suspected. It was a very clever read with characters that you wanted to pull cons with. I will say that there was more romance than I was expecting but I think it was a great addition to the story. Kristen knows what she's doing and she's a pro at it. Even though I was sick while reading this, I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what was going to happen. This book took more priority than me taking care of my illness. It was that damn good. Vincit Omnia Veritas
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  • Samantha (WLABB)
    January 1, 1970
    On the surface, this does not appear to be my usual cup of tea, but Simmons incorporated several elements, that had me chomping at the bit to read this one.1. Based on Norse mythology2. Shades of Ocean's 113. An elite, top-secret boarding schoolAnd let me tell you, these elements were combined in such a way, that I could NOT stop flipping the pages. When I first met Brynn, she was living in a rundown part of town, Devon Park, with her mother's drug dealer boyfriend. All she wanted was a way out On the surface, this does not appear to be my usual cup of tea, but Simmons incorporated several elements, that had me chomping at the bit to read this one.1. Based on Norse mythology2. Shades of Ocean's 113. An elite, top-secret boarding schoolAnd let me tell you, these elements were combined in such a way, that I could NOT stop flipping the pages. When I first met Brynn, she was living in a rundown part of town, Devon Park, with her mother's drug dealer boyfriend. All she wanted was a way out of this dead end life, and she thought she could run cons in order to accomplish the task. Little did she know, her skills as a con artist would earn her way into an elite school, Vale Hall, which promised a top-notch education and a colligate future. The catch? She would have to complete missions and collect secrets, but this was a price Brynn was willing to pay to ensure her future. There were so many things that kept me engrossed in this story.• Brynn was a very complex character. She appears to have a take-no-prisoners attitude, when it came to getting what she wanted, but her actions more than contradicted that assumption. She surprised me quite a few times over the course of this story, and these were good surprises. • All the Vale Hall operatives had very interesting backstories. The circumstances that brought them to Dr. Odin's attention, as well as their skillsets, were all worth exploring further, and made me more invested in each and every one of them. • All the major players were so intertwined. It was amazing watching all the pieces fall into place, as bit by bit, we learned more and more about what happened to who and why. • I went back and forth with Dr. O on many occasions. The whole concept of Vale Hall puts us in some serious morally grey areas, but his actions would often make me feel like he was one of the good guys. He would do so many incredible things for people, and turn around and do something completely questionable. He's one of the characters I hope to get to know better in future books. • Caleb, sigh, I am all about Caleb. He was a little light in a story, that leaned towards the darker side of things. I am shipping him and Brynn, so let's make that a permanent thing. • Just when I thought I knew exactly what was going on, the story would take a turn I didn't see coming. That's what happens when readers get smug. • They may have been teen cons, but they formed a family at Vale Hall, and I really enjoyed sharing some of those lighter moments with them. This story was gritty and twisty and the characters and story had me glued to the pages. I am looking forwarded to seeing what new deceptions the students of Vale Hall will be pulling in the near future. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
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  • Sarah (The Clever Reader)
    January 1, 1970
    OMG! Where do I sign up for Vale Hall! I’m ready to start my conning classes! This book was so good! It was a perfect mix of intense situations and family/friendship dynamics! You spend most of the time not trusting anyone and when everything comes together in the end you are left speechless! I hope there are more books because I am not ready to leave these characters!
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  • Meigan
    January 1, 1970
    Really loved this! A school for con artists, with a very clever twist on Norse Mythology. There are no gods and goddesses, but mythology lovers will certainly have a good time picking up on all the references peppered throughout. Full review to come.*ARC received courtesy of the publisher.
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  • Lindsi (Do You Dog-ear?)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.The Deceivers makes you question what's right and what's wrong. "The starving child who steals bread to survive, is he wrong? The man who kills his wife's murderer, does he not have that right?" I know that I would do anything to keep my family safe, and if our circumstances were different, that might me I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.The Deceivers makes you question what's right and what's wrong. "The starving child who steals bread to survive, is he wrong? The man who kills his wife's murderer, does he not have that right?" I know that I would do anything to keep my family safe, and if our circumstances were different, that might mean having questionable morals. There are bad people in the world, and Vale Hall promises to exploit them and discreetly make the world a better place.I really liked the idea of a private school for teenaged con artists, although it made it hard to trust the secondary characters. I never knew if someone was playing a role or being genuine, and things are good and twisted by the end of the book. Everyone has a personal agenda, but they're also playing a larger role that could come crashing down on their heads at any moment. It was insane. One of the characters, Charlotte, says she and Sam handle their situation by remembering what's real and what's pretend, but I feel like those lines become blurred after awhile.I'm not sure how I feel about the director and his decisions, because he's essentially using children to gather secrets from powerful and dangerous people. He claims they are never in any real danger, but the fear is real and he cannot account for everything.The Deceivers was a fun, quick read that held my attention. I wanted to know how Brynn's assignment worked out, and whether or not her past would weigh down her future. I was also curious about the other students, especially Caleb, and what they were doing on the director's orders.The romance was awkward, and I was happy when it didn't feel forced. They were just two people getting to know each other, which is difficult when they share more secrets than truths. It was hard for them to develop trust and feelings, because they were both guarded and working through their own problems. Their connection was subtle at first, but really grows when they begin working together.I really enjoyed this book, although it did drag in a few places. The beginning of the story starts off with a bang, but Brynn's adjustment period is slow going. They kept saying it was about the long con, but it was hard having the patience for it. I wish we'd learned more about the secondary characters and their assignments, because I thought they were all very fascinating people. They come from various backgrounds, and they're all willing to do whatever it takes to survive and move up in the world.There are a lot of surprises at the end of The Deceivers, but only a few that I anticipated. If you think about it, it's a place for con artists, so a few twists are to be expected! Everyone has secrets and personal agendas, and it was interesting to see how they all overlapped. I would definitely recommend this one!Originally posted at Do You Dog-ear? on February 5, 2019.
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  • Shalini | Book Rambler
    January 1, 1970
    This was such an entertaining read! This is the first time I've read a Kristen Simmons and I wasn't disappointed in the least.The Deceivers is about Brynn Hilder who lives a hard life but her luck soon changes when a boy begins following after her. Soon, Brynn stumbles upon a private party which is actually a game organized by a couple of teenagers. These teenagers go to a private school for con artists in the Vale Hill Estate and they have organized this game to recruit a new student. Brynn is This was such an entertaining read! This is the first time I've read a Kristen Simmons and I wasn't disappointed in the least.The Deceivers is about Brynn Hilder who lives a hard life but her luck soon changes when a boy begins following after her. Soon, Brynn stumbles upon a private party which is actually a game organized by a couple of teenagers. These teenagers go to a private school for con artists in the Vale Hill Estate and they have organized this game to recruit a new student. Brynn is told that if she wins the game, she will be set for life and will get a full scholarship to any college.Brynn has nothing to lose so she participates in the game not knowing if she has won the coveted position until the next day. Vale Hall must be a dream comes true for Brynn but she soon realizes that to make her dreams come too, she'll have to con a senator's son for it. Is she cut out for this lifestyle or will she be wiped out of existence as another girl before her?Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC.
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  • mith
    January 1, 1970
    HMM. Listen, this book was yet another excuse to not read KING OF SCARS because I am weak and can’t handle emotions or pain, so if I am honest, I was not. Really. Planning to read this. I mean it was supposed to be a distraction but BOY did that change. To be Frank: this book was okay. Out of Simmons’ other books that I’ve read, THE DECEIVERS was not my favourite but it wasn’t bad either. For one, it’s got a cool and sorta morally ambiguous main character, and two, a school for con artists, whic HMM. Listen, this book was yet another excuse to not read KING OF SCARS because I am weak and can’t handle emotions or pain, so if I am honest, I was not. Really. Planning to read this. I mean it was supposed to be a distraction but BOY did that change. To be Frank: this book was okay. Out of Simmons’ other books that I’ve read, THE DECEIVERS was not my favourite but it wasn’t bad either. For one, it’s got a cool and sorta morally ambiguous main character, and two, a school for con artists, which is like. A dream come true. It was fun and a little angsty at times and I LOVED the romance, but. But I was not really all that in love with the book. Part of it was the narration. This is the first time I can remember where I wasn’t a fan of first person POV. Simmons wrote THE GLASS ARROW and PACIFICA in third person and it fit the books super well. So when I found out this was first person, I was both excited and surprised. Definitely different for me but since first person is my favourite, I thought I wouldn’t mind. But it’s just that. Brynn’s narration was not my favourite part. The writing, I think, in addition to the narration, was my least favourite thing about this book. While engaging at times, the way Brynn’s thoughts were formatted felt choppy and completely unlike what I enjoyed. C’est la vie and all that, can’t like em all. What I did enjoy was the fun cast of side characters. I adored Caleb and Henry and the other people whose names I cannot remember because I am like That. But they added so much fun to the book! And considering they were all con artists of some sort made it all the better. Simmons really does a great job at layering her characters and side characters are no exception. I should mention that THE DECEIVERS has a lot going on. From Brynn’s background and her trying to escape her life, to this new school, and finally to her first job—which adds a whole new level of problems for her. It’s exciting in that way you can’t really predict what’s going to happen and also are afraid of what could happen if and when things go wrong. I adored the romance and yes there is one!! Caleb was a total sweetheart and he and Brynn have some great chemistry. It was sorta lowkey steamy too which I was not expecting!Overall, I’m... kinda torn? It’s not really a solid 4 but not really a 3.5 and do I really wanna be THAT extra and say 3.75? This is why I hate ratings.
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  • nick
    January 1, 1970
    What an entertaining read! I've always enjoyed Kristen Simmons books and she continues to write stories that are very easy to sink into.I was drawn to The Deceivers primarily because of the premise of a mysterious elite school, but what kept me glued to the pages was the heroine, Brynn. Before being recruited to Vale Hall, she had had a challenging upbringing, especially with her mother's skeevy boyfriend. She got through life by essentially scamming people and saving up for college. She was a r What an entertaining read! I've always enjoyed Kristen Simmons books and she continues to write stories that are very easy to sink into.I was drawn to The Deceivers primarily because of the premise of a mysterious elite school, but what kept me glued to the pages was the heroine, Brynn. Before being recruited to Vale Hall, she had had a challenging upbringing, especially with her mother's skeevy boyfriend. She got through life by essentially scamming people and saving up for college. She was a really strong and independent young woman. I love how she pretty much took life as it came and faced every obstacle courageously. Brynn was very thoughtful and level-headed and it was fun being inside her head. When she gets recruited into Vale Hall, she finally thinks she's on track to achieve a better life for herself.But there's more to Vale Hall than meets the eye. I thought the concept was very cool. The assignments that these teens have to complete were wild and I got really invested in Brynn and her mark, a prominent senator's son. His character was interesting especially because there seemed to be so many secrets surrounding him. Speaking of secrets, I wasn't expecting some of the twists when it came to Vale Hall itself and I think there is even more to the school than we were led to believe. I'm hoping to learn more. There is also a romance in The Deceivers. It's not at the forefront of the book, but I liked the moments Brynn and Caleb shared. Caleb was a really soft boy and their slow budding romance provided a lightness to the darker tone of the book.All in all, this was a good start to this series. I'm excited to be reunited with these characters again in the future!
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  • Ruthsic
    January 1, 1970
    Warnings: implied parental abuse, mention of child sexual abuseThe Deceivers makes good use of its long-game-con premise, delivering twist upon twist as Brynn, a girl from a poor background and a small-time con artist, gets a chance to attend a private school that assures her better things in life. The only caveat - Vale Hall is actually a school for con artists, and when they are not getting an education, they are working on different cons as per the wishes of their vigilante benefactor, Dr Odi Warnings: implied parental abuse, mention of child sexual abuseThe Deceivers makes good use of its long-game-con premise, delivering twist upon twist as Brynn, a girl from a poor background and a small-time con artist, gets a chance to attend a private school that assures her better things in life. The only caveat - Vale Hall is actually a school for con artists, and when they are not getting an education, they are working on different cons as per the wishes of their vigilante benefactor, Dr Odin. This first book introduces us to Brynn, the school, as well as how Brynn's former life comes crashing into her second one, and how she manages to juggle both while also using her skills to stay above the water. Along the way, there are some things that are revealed to be fake, some things are revealed to be true - much like Brynn, we are left guessing which might be which and who can be trusted. “There’s a gray area between right and wrong. You’re here because you see that. Not everyone does.” Brynn's grey morality makes her a perfect fit for the school, but her mission is one that hits a little close to home. Like her, her mark, Grayson (the senator's son) has been living in an abusive household, and while she initially sees him as a spoiled brat, she soon realizes there is a lot of fear hiding underneath that, making her reconsider what she is doing. I think this is the kind of thing Dr. O wants to know about, the kind of thing he may be able to use. But violence is personal, and despicable, and shaming, and the thought of sharing this with anyone else feels wrong. At several points in the book, she doubts the path she is on, measuring the harm she might be causing against the good that comes out of it, as well as her personal debt to Dr O. It is an uneasy relationship, knowing whether you can trust other con artists to have your best interests at heart, and Brynn's relationships with other characters reflect that struggle. It also intrudes on her budding romance with another such student, Caleb, whom she finds drawn to. There are small allusions to Norse mythology characters (Vale Hall = Valhalla, Brynn Hilder = Brunhilde the Valkyrie, Huggin and Munin as Hugh and Min the security peeps, Geri as a student) but yeah, this is not an urban fantasy; it was fun, though to connect their roles to their characters. I am definitely interested in finding out how shady Dr O can be, and at what point Brynn will be like, 'you know what, too far'. All in all, a good start to what I think will be a thrilling series. Is it diverse? Brynn is mixed-race (Colombia descent), her love interest Caleb is Japanese, and some of the secondary characters are POC.Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Tor Teen, via Netgalley.
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  • Shelley
    January 1, 1970
    *Source* Publisher*Genre* Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense*Rating* 3.5*Thoughts*The Deceivers is the first installment in author Kirsten Simmons Vale Hall trilogy. 16-year old Brynn Hilder has always had to be quick on her feet, to keep her safe for her mother’s drug dealing loser boyfriend Pete. However, he isn’t completely useless, he did teach her all about conning, both the long and short one. Brynn has been performing short cons in the ritzy neighborhoods to earn enough money to move away fr *Source* Publisher*Genre* Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense*Rating* 3.5*Thoughts*The Deceivers is the first installment in author Kirsten Simmons Vale Hall trilogy. 16-year old Brynn Hilder has always had to be quick on her feet, to keep her safe for her mother’s drug dealing loser boyfriend Pete. However, he isn’t completely useless, he did teach her all about conning, both the long and short one. Brynn has been performing short cons in the ritzy neighborhoods to earn enough money to move away from home and go to college. *Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*https://gizmosreviews.blogspot.com/20...
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  • The Library Ladies
    January 1, 1970
    (originally reviewed at thelibraryladies.com )Thank you to Tor Books for sending me an ARC of this novel!One of my husband’s favorite movies is “The Sting”, the classic grifter feature in which Robert Redford and Paul Newman run an elaborate con job on Robert Shaw. While I am more than happy to indulge the guy on watching an old favorite every once in awhile (lord knows he has to sit through “Purple Rain” every so often), the ‘con artist’ trope isn’t one of my favorites. So when I got an ARC of (originally reviewed at thelibraryladies.com )Thank you to Tor Books for sending me an ARC of this novel!One of my husband’s favorite movies is “The Sting”, the classic grifter feature in which Robert Redford and Paul Newman run an elaborate con job on Robert Shaw. While I am more than happy to indulge the guy on watching an old favorite every once in awhile (lord knows he has to sit through “Purple Rain” every so often), the ‘con artist’ trope isn’t one of my favorites. So when I got an ARC of “The Deceivers” by Kristen Simmons I was a little bit hesitant. But when I saw that it takes place at an ELITE BOARDING SCHOOL for special kids (aka budding con artists), my interest had officially been piqued. Bring on the sudsy drama of boarding school brats compounded with the promise of back stabbing. That’s all in the game when it comes to con artists, right? So while “The Deceivers” was out of my wheelhouse, I was more willing to give it a go.The first thing that struck a chord with me in this book was our protagonist, Brynn. Brynn is cut from a similar cloth to a number of YA heroines; she’s snarky, she’s scrappy, and she comes from a troubled background that has solidly placed a chip on her shoulder. Her father was murdered while working at his convenience store job, and Brynn’s mother has bounced from lout to lout ever since, leaving Brynn in a precarious, and sometimes outright dangerous, position. But through it all Brynn maintains her composure and never treads into overused plot points of devices. I like that she feels like a realistic teenage girl in a world that isn’t exactly smacking with realism, and her need to escape from this life strikes the right chords. Her motivations are clear, and while she is something of a fish out of water at Vale Academy (aka the boarding school for budding con artists, more on that whole thing in a bit), her character growth is believable and interesting.And while the plot is based in a theme that isn’t usually my cup of tea, I did find the meat of the plot and the cogs within pretty entertaining. While Vale Academy itself feels little under cooked as of now, this is a series and there is a lot of room to grow and to bring the school history to a closer focus. There were also a good deal of plot twists that did take me by surprise, and I felt like the most important ones worked very well, especially when they changed the game and turned Brynn’s perceptions (as well as the reader’s) on their heads.But that said, there were a number of moments and devices that didn’t quite come to fruition in satisfactory ways. Brynn went from potentially stumbling into a new educational setting with no guarantee of admission, to having the deal in the bag already without much reasoning beyond ‘because she needs to be here for the story to work’. There were moments and characters who felt like they could have had more focus on them, or at least more exploration and elaboration. On top of that, this book was nearly four hundred pages long, which felt a bit too long for the story in itself. There were repetitive aspects to the plot, mostly regarding whether or not Brynn could trust any given person at any given time, and the ultimate backstabbing that would come of that. I felt like had this been parsed down a bit more and tightened up, the plot wouldn’t have seemed to drag on as much as it did. And as I mentioned above, Vale Academy itself is still a very vague idea by the end of this book. In other books with magical and/or questionable boarding schools that I have enjoyed I’ve gotten a good feel for what the school as an institution stands for, and what the stakes are in regards to that school. But here, Vale Academy feels less like an actual place, but more of an excuse for these teenagers to be trying to trick, con, and manipulate people. Whether or not this will expand in later books, I can’t be sure, but I think that it will have to if it wants to stand out.Overall, “The Deceivers” had a fun main character and some good twists and turns, but it dragged on a little longer than it could have. People who do like con artist stories may be more receptive to the premise than I was.
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    I haven't been introduced to a Kristen Simmons book I didn't love and The Deceivers was no different. With nonstop action and intriguing characters, I basically finished The Deceivers in a day. I loved the different layers of this con story; there was Brynn who was trying to escape an abusive drug lord and a mysterious private school that had secrets of its own. Overall, I'm impressed with how much information Simmons was able to include a 300-page book while maintaining balance. I can't wait to I haven't been introduced to a Kristen Simmons book I didn't love and The Deceivers was no different. With nonstop action and intriguing characters, I basically finished The Deceivers in a day. I loved the different layers of this con story; there was Brynn who was trying to escape an abusive drug lord and a mysterious private school that had secrets of its own. Overall, I'm impressed with how much information Simmons was able to include a 300-page book while maintaining balance. I can't wait to see what mysteries and deceit Brynn and company discover in future books.
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  • Sha
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Tor Teen through NetGalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. A book about a school for teen con artists. I might have squealed internally when I saw the summary, I definitely squealed externally when I saw I was approved for a review copy, and it’s up for debate how many times I paused in my readi Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Tor Teen through NetGalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. A book about a school for teen con artists. I might have squealed internally when I saw the summary, I definitely squealed externally when I saw I was approved for a review copy, and it’s up for debate how many times I paused in my reading to praise favourite moments to my co-blogger. The Deceivers sucked me in from the start, with Brynn conning some ballet students into purchasing fake tickets to a theatre show and then heading home to confront her mom’s drug dealing boyfriend.Brynn is street-wise heroine who has long-since learned that fortune doesn’t favour those who grew up in the wrong part of town and definitely not those who don’t try to make more from their situation. Throughout the book, her wits get her out of tricky situations, and prove again and again that book smarts aren’t the only useful intelligence. I adoooored her personality, and her character arc on “who am I when I’m not conning people” was extremely well-written.Brynn is able to see the grey area in society’s laws, but that is tested when she joins Vale Hall, an extremely exclusive school that teaches its students how to extract secrets. Its director, Dr. Odin, assigns her to befriend a politician’s son and find out his secrets. This is one of the major plot threads in the story: what is the secret? Can Brynn actually con someone? Is she made out for this new lifestyle? At the school, Brynn makes good friends and also starts a romance, but what I loved the most was the entire air of “can I actually trust this person?” that circulated with every chapter. Everyone at the school is nice and welcoming to Brynn (minus one), but everyone also has their own motives, which gave the book depths I didn’t expect.The other major plot in the story is based loosely around her mother’s boyfriend, Pete, and Brynn’s efforts to free herself from his control. As I said before, Pete is a drug dealer (a pretty major one in Brynn’s hometown). His emotional abuse of Brynn and her mother is very well depicted in the book. In one scene, Brynn sits beside Pete and relates how his commands to “sit” make her feel like a dog, but that she fears acting out against him. Both plot lines are resolved by the end of the novel, and are given an equal amount of page time to develop. I had no clue how they would wrap up, because so much was happening, but Brynn was absolutely brilliant once again and solved everything and wow she’s my personal hero.The writing in this book was a shining glory. (It was definitely better than that metaphor.) Simmons provides an accurate representation of emotional abuse that alone marks this book as a must read. But I cannot forget to give praise to the subtle commentaries on power dynamics we see once Brynn starts at Vale Hall. I hope to see so much more of that in the sequel!!This book gets a 4.5 crown rating for me. I highly recommend you pick this book up because seriously there are teenagers learning how to be con artists and Brynn is an amazing heroine that you will want on your team. SO so glad this book came my way, and I hope it passes yours too!
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  • Susan's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Brynn is saving up to go to college - by pulling "Robin Hood" scams - stealing from the rich. She is recruited to Vale Hall school as a result of her larcenous gifts. There, she meets Caleb, who may not be all he seems to be. This is a twisted ride of a story, which is very well written and will keep you interested right up to the end. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Mads
    January 1, 1970
    I NEED THIS BOOK NOW!!!
  • Felicia Mathews (Bookishly Slytherclaw)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this story through Netgalley. All opinions of this story are my own. The Deceivers is my first book by Kristen Simmons and I've got to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Kristen Simmons has many prior publications and I look forward to reading them when I can.Possible trigger warnings for implied parental abuse and mention of child sexual abuse.This is a story of Brynn, who doesn't have the easiest of lives. Her father was shot at work and died suddenly and her mother then got int I received an ARC of this story through Netgalley. All opinions of this story are my own. The Deceivers is my first book by Kristen Simmons and I've got to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Kristen Simmons has many prior publications and I look forward to reading them when I can.Possible trigger warnings for implied parental abuse and mention of child sexual abuse.This is a story of Brynn, who doesn't have the easiest of lives. Her father was shot at work and died suddenly and her mother then got into a relationship with someone who doesn't respect either of them. She's doing what she can to survive, but one day finds that all her saved money is missing and that starts off a series of events that change her life.Brynn gets the opportunity to go to a private school that offers her better things in life. This private school is actually one for con artists and while they do get a typical education, they also get lessons in cons and working on different assignments for the director of the school.“There’s a gray area between right and wrong. You’re here because you see that. Not everyone does.”This was such a quick and fun book to read and I found myself never wanting to put it down. I found myself needing to know how Brynn's assignments were going to go and if her past was going to affect her future. But I also wanted to know about the other teen's in the school. I wanted to know what assignments they were doing for the director and how those would affect the story.The characters in this story are so diverse and all seem to have interesting back stories that I hope we learn more of in the coming books in the series. It was at times hard to trust them because they are all con artists in a school teaching them how to be better con artists.One of those characters that I was so interested in was Caleb. He was so mysterious and the cause of so much awkwardness throughout the story. The romance between them was such a slow burn and it was more so getting to know each than anything else. Since there are so many secrets between them and they are so guarded, it was hard for them to develop trust and feelings. To me it seemed like their connection was subtle at first, but as the two of them worked together it really grew."But careful isn’t an option. Careful is a luxury you have when your baseline isn’t chaos. When every decision isn’t determined by a calculated risk. In lives like ours, you grasp onto those who understand you, or you face every obstacle alone."I have mixed feelings towards the director and I think those feelings are leaning more towards disliking him. The decisions he makes and the assignments he gives these children are dangerous. Sometimes these children are gathering secrets and interacting with dangerous people. While he says they're all never in any real danger, he obviously can't account for everything and the fear is always real.While I expected some twists and turns because it is a story about con artists, I definitely wasn't expecting all that happened and the ending definitely had me on the edge of my seat and needing more.I really enjoyed the writing throughout the story and think it had an accurate portrayal of the emotional abuse. It also has a subtle nod to power dynamics once Brynn is at Vale Hall and I think it did well on commenting on that as well.The Deceivers easily gets a 4.5 star rating for me that leans more to 5 stars than 4. It was engaging and had me always wanting more. I can't wait for the next in the series as well as to read more from Kristen Simmons.
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