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Con Academy

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Meet Will Shea, a con artist who has bluffed his way into one of the nation’s most exclusive private schools. But Will isn’t the only scammer at Connaughton Academy—Andrea Dufresne is there too, and the ivy-covered campus isn’t big enough for the both of them.

So they make a bet—and the winner gets more than just a high school diploma. In this twisty tale of secrets, lies, and deception—it’s hard to figure out who’s double-crossing who. May the best con win!

240 pages, Hardcover

First published August 4, 2015

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About the author

Joe Schreiber

33 books279 followers
Joe Schreiber was born in Michigan but spent his formative years in Alaska, Wyoming and northern California. Until recently, he has never lived in the same address for longer than a year. Before settling in Hershey he lived in New York, Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland (OR), and Philadelphia. Becoming a parent forced him to consider a career with more reliable income, and he got a job as an MRI tech at Hershey Medical Center. Joe is married and has two children. He is the author of Chasing The Dead, Eat The Dark, and his newest tale of terror; No Doors, No Windows, which went on sale the same day as STAR WARS: DEATH TROOPERS. You can find him on the web at his blog ScaryParent.Blogspot.Com and on Suvudu.Com, where he is an occasional horror columnist.

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5 stars
247 (14%)
4 stars
552 (31%)
3 stars
685 (39%)
2 stars
222 (12%)
1 star
38 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 317 reviews
Profile Image for Colette.
562 reviews51 followers
October 17, 2015
A quick, easy read that kept me turning pages at a rapid rate. The ending felt rushed and a bit unfinished, but the characters entertained me the whole way through. Overall 3/5; a good book, but not great.
Profile Image for Claire (Book Blog Bird).
1,052 reviews38 followers
July 19, 2015
This review was originally posted on Book Blog Bird

Connaughton Academy is one of the top private schools in America and Will Shea is the new boy in school. A scholarship student, he was offered a place at Connaughton after his missionary parents were killed flying medicine to orphans in the Marshall Islands.

Only thing is, all this is a lie. Will has conned his way into the school and he thinks his cover story is pretty safe until another student - also a con artist - confronts him. They quickly realise that the school is only big enough for one grifter and settle on a bet: the first to con the school’s obnoxious, meathead bully out of $50,000 gets to stay.

There were a number of parallels between Con Academy and the 1988 film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: two con artists, one who’s the old hand and one who’s the new kid on the block, decide that this town ain’t big enough for the both of them and strike up a wager. The first of them to con the mark out of $50,000 gets to stay. I’m not sure if the author intended this to be a re-write or if this is just a coincidence, but either way Con Academy is funny and exciting enough in its own right (sadly, though, there’s no Ruprecht).

The pace is pretty breakneck - there are plenty of twists and turns, bluffs, double-bluffs, betrayal and revenge. The book doesn’t really go in for introspection and ponderings on the nature of the universe, but that was just fine by me because I was well in the mood for a snappy, fun read and this definitely fit the bill. I had to suspend my disbelief on a number of occasions, but no more so than in Ocean’s Eleven or pretty much any action film ever made, and there was also a nice revelation at the end that even a seasoned twist-spotter like me didn’t see coming.

It’s not rolling-on-the-floor funny, but the narrative is witty and sharp and I really liked Will as an MC. His back story was great and for a plot-based story, he actually developed plenty over the course of the book.

I would have liked to know more about Andrea because I really liked her too. And Gatsby - for a while I thought she was just going to be someone shoehorned in to provide a bit of romantic interest, but the romance is barely-there and she really came into her own as a character.

As a baddie, Brandt Rush is almost ridiculously evil. He literally has no redeeming features and I guess that this makes it easier for us as readers to root for Will and Andrea when they’re trying to fleece him, but I wanted to see something, anything that would have turned him a bit more human.

Overall, I thought this was a fun read and I’ll be looking out for other books by this author.

I received a copy of Con Academy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Houghton Miffin Harcourt and Netgalley.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,074 reviews183 followers
August 9, 2015
I picked up a copy of this book because it sounded intriguing. When the book arrived and I read a reference to Ocean's Eleven I got really excited. The Ocean's movies were great. With each movie I would try to figure out the con and how it was pulled off before the reveal at the end of the movie. This book had none of the same cool moments or intrigue as the Ocean's movies.

Will and Andrea were fine but neither one made me really cheer for one over the other. Their target was not anyone that I cared for at all. This was supposed to be the point so that as Will and Andrea each were trying to top the other one, me the reader would say that the target got what he deserved. Which by the way I did say this and meant it as well. The con was nothing too elaborate which I was looking forward too. Overall, this book was alright.
Profile Image for Charlie P..
5 reviews6 followers
September 21, 2016
Con Academy is an action filled adventure where con artist Will Shea gets his way into one of the top schools in the nation, Connaughton Academy. Will Shea the so called "orphan" from the island of Ebeye meets his match another con artist (will not say who) and they both know this campus is big, but not big enough for two of them. To see who gets to stay and who has to leave they make a bet, the first one who can con 50 thousand dollars from Brant Rush wins. The ending of this book is a pretty nice shock. I suggest that you read this book if you are into action because this book will blow you away!
Profile Image for Trinity L.
4 reviews11 followers
February 4, 2017
This is an exciting book to read! It's about a guy named Will Shea who is a con artist who got into this really expensive rich school called Connaughton Academy. There is also this other girl named Andrea and she is also a con artist. The campus is not big enough for both of the cons! So they decide to make a bet, the first one to con 50,000 dollars! The bet is to see who can stay, and who has to go. This book has a ton of lies and suspense in it! I think it was a very action packed book to read and I recommend this book for 5th graders and up. Find out who wins!
Profile Image for Alison (AlisonCanRead).
513 reviews2 followers
October 1, 2015
A good book. Not a great book. Not a bad book. A good book. Con Academy entertained me but didn't necessarily impress me.

I love the concept of this book. First of all, it's set at a posh boarding school. Second, it features two ballsy kids who've successfully conned their way into the school and are going to con the school's biggest jerk. The ingredients are good. They're just not mixed together smoothly enough.

The con and the conners are great. Will sets up an online poker scam and Andrea gets close & comfy with Brandt, the mark. The cons work out to be complex and have twists and turns as the two scam artists try to sabotage each other. Did it all feel a bit unrealistic? Yeah, but I had such fun that I could forgive it.

Where the story starts to fall apart is with the rest. First of all, Will's family, including his dad and uncle. Uncle Roy is there to help him run the con. Will's dad is a troublemaker and sticks around because no one can get rid of him. I liked these characters; they added color to the story. However, they could have been better developed.

The real problem is Gatsby - the girl that Will falls for. This felt like a "Must Have Romance" throw in. I only got a bare-bones impression of who she was. She was there entirely to service the story. Most oddly, it felt like insta-love when there actually wasn't much romance at all.

I enjoyed Con Academy. I laughed, I was even surprised a few times. But it never came together as it should. I'm happy I finished the story, but I only finished because I got to 50% and figured I might as well find out the end.

Recommendation: Borrow
Profile Image for Thomas M.
3 reviews1 follower
November 13, 2016
Will Shea is a high school student who conned his way into this really prestigious academy called Connaughton Academy. He met this girl who really early on figures out that he conned his way by saying his parents were missionaries and that he was an orphan from a small island called Ebeye in the Marshall Islands. Then he figures out she also conned her way in. So they set up a deal: whoever gets 50,000 dollars first from this kid who doesn't like them named Brandt wins. Brandt is a really wealthy kid, like $50,000 is nothing in his family. So Andrea the girl becomes Brandt's girlfriend. She tries to con that way to get Brandt to support this charity that she says Will is a part of but he made it up about the Ebeye Orphan charity. But Will gets help from his Great Uncle Roy who calls people in and he attempts the online poker scandal which is where you have a dealer that you know. You have one of your guys texting your target what to do. You let Brandt win twice, then he lays the big bet and your guy will text him to do something that you know will make him lose. So you get the cash. If you want to know who wins out of these two con artists, then you have to read Con Academy to find out.

Readers who like a mix of mystery, action, and suspense would enjoy this book. I especially liked that the action started at the beginning and never really stopped. One of the mysteries inside of this book is the Sigils; they're a secret group on campus that only people in it know about. It's like no other book I have read but maybe my description will make you think of a book you liked.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
11 reviews
October 11, 2016
This was a good book because it has some humor and it has a lot of tricking so most of the time what you think is going to happen will not happen because they trick you. I would recommend this book because it has a good lesson in it. it also has stuff that might happen in college. I liked this book because you can never predict whats going to happen next. This book has some funny moments and some said moments, but it also has some moments where it leaves you with your mouth hanging open because you never would believe that something like that would happen even if you thought of the stuff that yo think is impossible to happen.
Con Academy is about a kid who is a con artist and hacks into this school and when he gets there he meets this girl who knows that he's a con. Later he finds out that she is also a con artist and has been there a little bit over a year. Since both of them can't stay at the school they make a bet that whoever can get someone at the school to give them 10k-50k gets to stay at the school. Like I was saying earlier about the tricking... They play tricks on people and on each other to get the money. They will do anything to get that money even if it means to pretend to like someone even when you don't, lie to people, and even risk your own life!.
You should read this book if you like action and tricking books. I hope you enjoy this book if you read it!
Profile Image for MacK.
595 reviews193 followers
May 1, 2016
I was looking forward to this, I really was. I've always loved capers and con men stories, due in no small part to my parents giggling and elbowing me through numerous watchings and re-watchings of The Grifters, Catch me if you Can and of course The Sting. So a YA novel that broke free from dystopian or saccharine tropes sounded perfect, at the very least I would applaud the effort.

Sadly, Schreiber's fondness for the genre devolves into pure imitation rather than invention. Rather than giving insight into a scam or scheme as it happens, he settles for a basic plotting of events. Rather than surprise you with a thrilling reveal, he seems to plop down a conclusion and hope it's satisfying. Most frustratingly of all, the story is just a retelling of the scam in The Sting but with characters so thin that not even the perfect genetic invention of Paul Newman and Robert Redford could pull it off.

It's an easy read, and it is novel, I'll give it that, but perhaps the clearest Con in the novel, is the way it holds your attention without really showing much at all.
Profile Image for Kinga.
680 reviews66 followers
October 5, 2015
Definitely not what I signed up for!

When you hear or read about cons you expect something magical, don't you? Well, that was quite accomplished. But you also expect your main guy to be The guy. You know what I mean? The expert guy/with charisma/hot/knows everything/isn't conned/ is not stupid.

Yeah, I wanted to raed not necessarily about A con. Maybe more. But I wanted the accent on the genius main character. And there is no genius main character in this version.... Paint me confused.

Will could have been easily a genius con man with a pretty girlfriend and some rivals. But no. He's got be too stupid for his career choice. And I ended up feeling sorry for Brandt...
Profile Image for Sean Randall.
1,883 reviews40 followers
August 27, 2015
I quite got into this story. It was a fairly quick read, but would've probably quite appealed to me when I was a little younger.
Profile Image for Emmzxiee.
218 reviews7 followers
September 9, 2020
The plot twist at the end of the story is so freaking Awesome!!!!!!
Profile Image for Sara (A Gingerly Review).
2,679 reviews156 followers
January 19, 2018

Break out the crayons and color me "Disappointed". Maybe it is just my fault for having higher hopes for this story. I mean, with a title like this I expected so much more. Instead, I got a low budget version of Ocean's 11 that only plays at the Dollar Movies.

If that's the case, I want my dollar back.


Full review can be found here: https://agingerlyreview.wordpress.com...

This book had been on my Wish List through my library for a while. I’m a sucker for a good mystery/thriller story so I finally decided to give this a chance. That might have been a mistake because this was not what I expected.

Short recap: Will has just started at a very elite private school for the wealthy, privileged, and spoiled rotten kids of the North Eastern part of the country. Will has a secret that nobody knows about – he conned his way into the school. Well, he thought nobody knew until Andrea called him out on his cover story. Shortly after Will realizes that Andrea is a con artist as well. These two make a bet to see who is the better con artist.

I know my description is a little choppy but it was the best I could do because my thoughts on the book changed after I finished. I was excited to start as it was promised to be like Ocean’s Eleven but I’m here to say it wasn’t anything like that. It felt like an underdeveloped attempt at a great YA con/thriller. I had so many issues with the entire story.

First, the characters. I never connected with Will or Andrea. I didn’t care what happened to either so I couldn’t cheer for either to win. Will was an arrogant prick that talked like his poop didn’t stink. He had a very high opinion of himself. At the same time, Andrea had a higher opinion of herself. Her arrogance knew no limits. I found myself wanting to punch her on several occasions. Why Andrea felt it necessary to challenge Will was beyond me. Both of these teens managed to con their way into this elite school so why not let bygones be bygones? They weren’t really hurting anyone and both could have gone on without bothering the other but OH NO, Andrea couldn’t live like that. She immediately felt threatened by Will and went for blood. I just didn’t understand that. The third character that had a large part was the girl Will fell for – Gatsby. That’s right, her name was Gatsby. This girl felt like she was there for a forced romance. She did nothing to help move the story along. She was just as underdeveloped as the rest of the characters.

The actual bet proposed by Andrea was pretty typical. There was nothing unique or thrilling about it. She picked the target – who just happened to be the most popular and richest jerk in school. Whoopie. I just could not find a way to care that they were both trying to con $50k out of the kid who was allowed to invest and trade real millions of dollars from his family’s estate. The way they both went about trying to get the money was absurd. Conveniently Will had all of these connections to an online fake gambling poker website and had no problems setting things up to get the $50k. At the same time, Andrea played the head over heels girlfriend who was captivated by the rich boy. All the while, Andrea had her own secrets that are revealed at the end that will did nothing more than caused me to roll my eyes.

I know I’m not giving a glowing review of this story but I seemed to enjoy it enough to finish it. Maybe I just wanted to see how it would play out, who knows. I know the ending was super rushed and weak at best. Too many things were trying to happen at once and as a result, it was jumbled. Would I recommend this story? No. I cannot recommend anyone to read this as it was not as developed as it could have been. The characters needed more depth and the plot needed more work. I am thankful I was able to borrow from the library and did not spend my money on buying a copy.
Profile Image for Stefanie.
1,333 reviews20 followers
July 23, 2015
I won this book through the First Reads program and I'm glad I was lucky enough to read this one. Thoughts are my own.

It's described as being perfect for Ally Carter fans and I would have to agree with that one. Or really anything involving cons, conniving or being an all-around badass. Plus throw in the boarding/ private school aspect and I have to read it.

Overall I really enjoyed this one but I'll go into a little more detail about why I liked it:

The pacing of this was perfect for me because I was never left bored or wondering when something would happen. It seemed as if Will (our main character) would solve something, he'd find another problem instantaneously. What I liked the most pace wise that the book started right in the action. I enjoyed that every time I turned the page I was curious as to what would happen next. That kept me interested in the plot to see how it would all flesh out.

Most of the characters: I enjoyed Gatsby and Andrea the most, more than Will. To me Will was a good main character with enough sarcasm and wit to make me want to see how everything turned out with him and the con. I also don't read a lot of books narrated from a male perspective, so this was a nice change. Andrea was probably my favourite character because I enjoyed how she always seemed to have an upper hand on Will and annoy him just enough to motivate him further. Gatsby was one I wish got involved more in the action. I liked her and would read a book just of her, could that be arranged? As for the bad guy character, Brandt did a very good job in that role. Mean enough that I rooted for him to get destroyed and crushed.

The plot: I love conspiracy books because I know I'll never be involved in something like that. To see how somebody trained for this life, to see how they think about their next moves, the introductions to their inner circles just make me realize I would never be cut out to be a spy. Instead I'll watch from afar and keep it in books and movies.

If anyone wants a fun, quick paced book this is for you. If you love the spy genre I would recommend this one.
October 12, 2017
I read a book named Con Academy by Joe Schreiber. The book was about a transfer kid, Will Shea, that scammed his way into a very prestigious school by lying and bluffs left and right. He makes up this giant story about being from a broken home, but little does he know another one of his students, Andrea, is playing the same game. They realize the school is not big enough for the both of them. So they try to get one another kicked out while still being pretty good fake friends. The scammers realize that they will need a goal to prove who the better scammer actually is. They set up a trap with one of the richest students at the academy to see who the true blackjack is.
During the whole game, the two become closer. They then realize that they might actually need each other. Little does the friend know that the main character as a backup plan that his uncle and him have been planning. The main character seems to have everyone on his side without having to actually say much about the whole situation.
Con Academy is a quick easy read, with a lot of twists and turns. The characters feel interactive, and there’s always something new right around the corner. A great book to read if you have a witty personality, or an adventurous inside. It also has so many real life high school relatable plots that your high school self might personally enjoy.
Profile Image for Keith Gorman.
189 reviews3 followers
May 16, 2016
Nothing makes me happier than when one of my kids says "Hey Dad, I have a book you need to read". Suffice to say, that's what happened with this book. I'm glad I took the book and read it. It was a great book with a pretty good twist ending. It was also interesting to see the type of books my son is interested in.

Con Academy is about a young con artist who is out to do the con of his career. Along the way he learns the power of truth over lies and what redemption and grace mean. A good story with a moral. It is a fast read and could easily be read in one day if one had the time.
Profile Image for allison! .
350 reviews6 followers
March 8, 2021
Well that was quick. When I picked out this book, I saw that it was short, but I wasn't expecting to read that so quickly. Well, I'm not mad, sooo...

Basically, this was not what I expected. It's not a love story, ya'll!

I don't feel like writing a whole review, so.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go destroy Jotunheim. (or read idk)
5 reviews
May 22, 2018
I enjoyed the author's writer style and his talent of including a lot of vivid figurative language, however the plot was sort of too predictable, as you could easily figure right from the start out that Will would eventually go through a big humbling experience due to how full of himself he was in the beginning. Also, the characters were somewhat hard to like so it was hard for me as the reader to connect with any of them and be invested in the story.
128 reviews
May 29, 2021
A fun, easy book that went by quickly. It was pretty fun! A bit ridiculous but I didn’t mind.
416 reviews14 followers
September 13, 2021
Took me so long to read since it got a bit slow in the middle but once I picked the book back up I flew through it.
Profile Image for Tate P.
9 reviews1 follower
March 5, 2017
Will Shea forges his way into Connaughton Academy. He gets in on a scholarship, and meets a girl named Andrea on the first day. She quickly unravels his fake backstory and identity. He figures out that she also conned her way into the academy. They both have the information to get the other expelled, so they make a bet. Whoever can con $50,000 out of Brandt Rush, the richest kid on campus gets to stay at Con Academy.

This book is great and I could not put it down, it was so suspenseful throughout.

If you like realistic fiction then this is your book.
Profile Image for Briar's Reviews.
1,788 reviews501 followers
July 21, 2016
Con Academy by Joe Schreiber is a mysterious Young Adult novel that keeps the readers on it's toes!

Con Academy is a novel following Will Shea who is a young con artist. He makes his way into Connaughton Academy and plans to make some cash quickly before leaving the Academy behind. When he enters into a competition for who can get cash the quickest with another young scamming con artist, things begin to go every direction but the one Will planned.

First of all, the pun of the academy's name is priceless. Connaughton Academy? It's a great pun!

The novel starts out slow and boring as it explains the basic information about the characters. Despite almost putting it down in the first few chapters I kept going. There seems to be no clear plot movement in the first few chapters and I wasn't entirely sure where the novel was going to go. Once I was about halfway into the book, the plot movement changed drastically from slow to addicting. It's almost like a different author picked it up and changed the pace. The pace changed was great and it's what had me hooked and eager to find out what the scammer characters had in mind.

All of the characters didn't have much growth. I found the characters to stay the same the entire novel, almost like it is for the younger generation of Young Adult. Despite the minor character growth, the characters are still fun and amusing to read about. The hi jinks the characters get in is thrilling.

The novel is definitely aimed towards the younger end of Young Adult. I felt like the readers the original Harry Potter was made for, the preteens, would love this sort of novel. Constant movement in the plot, funny situations and silly hi jinks.

Overall, it was a cute novel! I liked to read it and I would suggest it to anyone who wants a quick read with a surprise ending! A Young Adult ending similar to something that Gillian Flynn would do - unexpected and one you won't see coming.

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
520 reviews15 followers
January 12, 2016
Thanks to goodreads and the publisher for a free copy of this book!

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading Con Academy, but this was such a fun read. The book grabbed me from the first chapter (as in, I started to roll my eyes at the main character... and then abruptly stopped, did a double take, and got really into it).

The pace of the story was fantastic. I loved watching the plot unfold, seeing the various cons play out, and trying to guess when different characters and pieces of information would come into play.

The book almost reminded me of the Curseworkers series by Holly Black... only in a more realistic setting, obviously. All in all, this was a really well-done, well-thought-out book about a teenage con artist.

Oh, and Gatsby? Is my favourite secondary character I've come across in a long time. If Joe Schreiber ever decides to give her a book of her own, I will be first in line to buy it.
Profile Image for Maggie Zidar.
8 reviews5 followers
January 6, 2017
It's his senior year and Will Shea has conned his way into one of the country's most elite prep schools. But he soon runs into Andrea, a fellow con-artist. With the school not big enough for the both of them, they make a bet that whoever can con Brandt Rush, the richest, most privileged student in the school out of $50K, gets to stay at the school. Will starts setting up his con (an online poker scam) with his uncle who's one of the best grifters in the business, but also with the unwanted help of his father.. The plot thickens as Will starts falling for fellow student Gatsby, and some of Will's lies start to catch up with him.
In this twisty tale of scams, secrets, lies and deception, it hard to figure out who's conning who!
I thought this was awsome as a mysterious good book. I now people who like the books When, Sweet, and more, you will like this book. This will be a great book for you. Enjoy!
Profile Image for J.
275 reviews3 followers
August 5, 2015
Since the teen con is one of the in things for YA 'realistic' fic these days, can they all be as good as Joe Schreiber's Con Academy, please? It's not that the trend really makes a ton of sense, but it's here and slowly coming on and this one at least never takes itself so seriously that you're scratching your head the whole time trying to make it out to be more than it is. Yeah, okay, there's some life lessons by the end, but there's also no black and white with the characters. They're all some shade of grey in terms of morality that it just works somehow even with the fact it takes place at a boarding school with a teenage guy main character who has basically spent his entire life as a con artist. Just roll with Con Academy and realize how fun it is in the end.

Note: ARC received via Amazon Vine in exchange for review.
Profile Image for Ally S..
4 reviews26 followers
October 13, 2016
This book was about a con artist named Will Shea, who has hacked into the computer system of a top school called, Connaughton Academy, in ordered gain admission to the school. While he is in the dinning hall of the school, he meets another con artist named Andrea Dufresne. They make a bet to see who can get 10,000 dollars first. The loser must leave the school.

So who's double-crossing whom? Read Con Academy to find out!

I absolutely LOVED this book because I didn't know what was going to happen next. It made me feel like I was actually in the story. This book has mystery, suspense, and a little bit of romance.
Profile Image for Lydia.
431 reviews41 followers
May 8, 2015
I look at her closely for the first time. She's wearing black framed glasses with lenses that reflect the screen in front of her, and her dark brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail...

Gatsby taps a few keys on the computer scribbles a note on a scrap of paper, then stands up and comes around from behind the desk, "Stay here." And before I can say anything, she disappears into the stacks, moving through the deep jungle of the Dewey decimal system with all the confidence and authority of a lioness.
Profile Image for Jaime.
570 reviews7 followers
May 20, 2016
Enjoyable, but not on the same level as the other Lone Star books I've read this year. I know several students who would love it though and I liked the way it tied up (even if it was a bit unrealistic).
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