Title: Scammed (Vale Hall #2)
Author: Kristen Simmons
Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery
Release: February 4th 2020 from Tor Teen
Format: Kindle ARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads Synopsis: Brynn Hilder is living a life she never dreamed possible: She lives in a mansion, getting a top-rate education at Vale Hall. She has friends and an almost-boyfriend. Anything she wants, she can have.
The only catch? To stay in this life, she has to help the director of Vale Hall take down the bad guys of Sikawa City by collecting secrets and running cons.
Getting everything she wants and fighting evil doesn’t seem like such a bad deal. The thing is, she’s not so convinced anymore that Dr. Odin is really going after bad people after all. And the friends and almost-boyfriend that have made her life so different are all liars and con artists—so can she trust that any of it is real?
The stakes are higher. The cons are riskier. And nothing is what you think it is.
**I was able to download and read this ARC from Edelweiss but I treat it as a normal ARC that I request. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no quotations will be used.**
*NOTE: Slight spoilers for the first book The Deceivers are ahead, so if you haven’t read the first book and don’t want slight spoilers, I would come back to this review after you’ve read The Deceivers*
I read the first book in this YA trilogy last year about this time and I only gave it 3 stars. I liked it but I had felt like the cons were WAY too simple and not complicated or intricate. I also felt like there was a bit too much fluff in between the parts with finding out what happened to Susan Griffin. But I did want to give the sequel a chance and see how things could evolve. MAN this book took me by surprise by the end! While there’s still a little bit too much detail that I skimmed over, there’s some really good ideas here and major twists. I enjoyed this sequel much more than the first book, so if you liked the first book but wanted more, try this sequel!
In this sequel, we follow Brynn as she’s trying to get more information out of Grayson, who is her assignment from the first book. She still doesn’t know what happened to Susan Griffin and Grayson’s dad, the senator Matthew Sterling isn’t in jail yet. Grayson is being protected at Vale Hall after appears and Dr. Odin takes him in, but Caleb doesn’t trust Grayson. Brynn is trying all she can to get Grayson to trust her, but as she keeps getting deeper into this assignment, things get WAY out of control.
I’ll admit that the first 60% of this book is a little bit of summary of stuff you might’ve forgotten from the first book, Brynn’s life at Vale Hall, her friends there and her secret relationship with Caleb. She starts working at a restaurant where Matthew Sterling’s interns eat at often, since she’s trying to get more information about why Susan died and what else the senator could be hiding. There’s a bit of teenage drama, school stuff and lots of talking and guessing. And of course, Grayson is a ticking time bomb of aggression and doesn’t help Brynn get what she needs. Even her relationship with Caleb starts to become tested.
But the last 40% of the book really picked up and I had to keep reading! The synopsis is practically spot on with saying that “nothing is what you think it is.” While you could guess a couple things, there was a point where I didn’t trust anyone except Brynn and her friend Charlotte. I wasn’t sure who was lying as things got twistier. The author really pulls the rug from you and I can tell she had so much fun writing this sequel. I’m now very excited for the final book to see how this story wraps up.
Overall: While I’m still a novice in YA contemporary, this Valhalla inspired series is fun! It’s fluffy in some parts and I’ll admit that I had my doubts after finishing the first book. But I’m always happy when a sequel proves me wrong and I can really sink my teeth into it. I LOVE Caleb as Brynn’s love interest and their friend group with Charlotte, Sam and the others is just fantastic and wonderful. Grayson can suck it and he was written so well that I seethed at his character. While this wasn’t a 5 star read, this was still entertaining and well planned out.
Have you read this book yet? If so, did you like it? What did you think of The Deceivers if you’ve read it? Let me know in the comments!