Don’t Get Caught – Kurt Dinan – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 1 April 2016
10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. -Chaos Club
When Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him? After all, he’s Mr. 2.5 GPA, Mr. No Social Life. He’s Just Max. And his favorite heist movies have taught him this situation calls for Rule #4: Be suspicious. But it’s also his one shot to leave Just Max in the dust…
Yeah, not so much. Max and four fellow students-who also received invites-are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security “catches” them. Definitely a setup. And this time, Max has had enough. It’s time for Rule #7: Always get payback.
Let the prank war begin.
This book had me at Ocean’s 11. Or maybe it was at heist movies. Nope, make that ‘always get payback’. So this book had a lot of things going for it. I knew I just had to read it. It’s a great mix of humour and outrageous escapades, with a cast of realistic, if slightly crazy, teenage characters.
When Max is invited to the water tower by the school’s infamous Chaos Club he is happy to throw off his Just-Max, nobody role and do something a bit daring. But when he and the four other students told to meet there are set up and embarrassingly caught and then punished in front of the whole school, Max is determined to seek his revenge. And just like any good heist leader, Max needs a crew – and the four teens also caught in the first embarrassing prank setup prove to be excellent and willing conspirators.
This is a fun and almost unbelievable book. The pranks in this book are pretty epic, and I’m just a little bit reluctant to put it in the school library for fear of what it might inspire the students to do. But I know they will love it. As a high-school teacher, Kurt Dinan obviously has plenty of experience with teenagers and it shows in the authentic teen voices in this book. The boys, Max and fellow pranksters Dave Wheeler and Tim Adleta, are such guys, with a near constant flow of eye-roll-worthy innuendos, sexual references and jokes. But the girls are not left out either, with Ellie and Kate, contributing their own epic pranks. As a group they are pretty scary.
Max provides the narration, and he takes the sort-of leadership role in the group. But what Max sets in motion is a little more than he bargained for. As a result he struggles with the morality behind both what he and his friends are doing and why. Is it okay to stand up for something if your results are questionable, maybe even hurting others? These are the deeper issues lying underneath the jokes and ranks, as is issues of bullying, friendship, self-identity, trust, judging others and the eternal enmity of vice-principal Stranko.
This is a fun book where cows on the school roof are just the beginning, and with that twist of an ending it will be interesting to see if there will be a second book.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Pranks, high school, secret clubs, friendship, revenge.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, s***, sl**. Frequent sexual references and innuendo, some of which are graphic.
Published: 1 April 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire.
Format: Paperback, ebook. 336 pages.