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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.

381 pages, Paperback

First published February 4, 2020

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About the author

Kristen Simmons

17 books1,935 followers
Kristen Simmons is the critically-acclaimed young adult author of the dystopian Article 5 trilogy, The Deceivers boarding-school thriller series, and speculative fiction stand-alones, PACIFICA, METALTOWN, and THE GLASS ARROW. She has co-written the magic-wielding, gladiator fantasies, SET FIRE THE GODS and RISE UP FROM THE EMBERS. Next up: FIND HIM WHERE YOU LEFT HIM DEAD, the start of a yōkai horror duology.

Her work has received star reviews, librarian recognitions, and been nominated for the Edgar Award and Anthony Award for best young adult mystery. Several of her titles are included in junior high and high school reading curricula, and are used in reluctant reader programs nationwide.

Kristen’s writing is inspired by her work with trauma survivors as a mental health therapist, specializing with soldiers with PTSD and individuals in foster care. She currently lives with her husband and son in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she spins stories, herds a small pack of semi-wild dogs, and teaches Jazzercise.

Follow Kristen on Facebook (Author Kristen Simmons) and Instagram at @kris10writes.

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5 stars
191 (38%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 99 reviews
Profile Image for Karen’s Library.
1,063 reviews164 followers
February 5, 2020
4.25 stars. In this sequel to The Deceivers, believe it when the synopsis says "The stakes are higher. The cons are riskier. And nothing is what you think it is."

The story continues with Brynn at Vale Hall, an elite high school which is really a school for con artists. The gang is back and I was thrilled to get more of Brynn, Charlotte, Henry, Caleb, and Sam. But Grayson is also back (not so thrilled about him, and neither is Caleb!)

The twists and turns are crazy and, dang, I need book 3 right now!!

For much of the book, I wanted to throw something at Brynn for not seeing the truth. But... The book would have been much shorter and not as fun had that actually happened. All in all, very worth it.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tor Teen for the advance copy!*
Profile Image for cor.
256 reviews56 followers
July 17, 2022
i feel angry.
angry at brynn for being an idiot, angry at [redacted] and [redacted] for [redacting] with Brynn and Caleb, but mostly angry at myself for putting myself in this situation.

honestly i was a little bored in some parts. but the side characters really saved this book.

edit: i’m less angry now that i’ve read book 3, and i think this book is muchhh better which the knowledge i now have, having read book 3.
Profile Image for Namera [The Literary Invertebrate].
1,193 reviews2,927 followers
January 31, 2020
This book, unfortunately, suffered very much from second-book-itis. It's nowhere near as twisty, tightly plotted, or even comprehensible as the first book.

The series revolves around Brynn Hilder, a girl who's been recruited into spy academy Vale Hall under the aegis of its headmaster Dr Odin. (Yes, it's based lightly off Norse mythology, though Gallagher Girls is the one that really comes to mind). Following on from the events of the last book, she's trying to help Dr O get justice for the murder of his sister whilst balancing her blooming romance with Caleb.

Brynn was a lot less engaging in this one - she came off as ridiculously self-absorbed instead. Meanwhile, my opinion of many of the characters' intelligences fell drastically, and I found the plot insanely confusing in many places. I couldn't keep straight who knew what and if they were supposed to know it. While the book was well-written, I'm now a lot more dubious about the sequel than I was before.

[Blog] - [Bookstagram]

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Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,046 reviews3,444 followers
February 10, 2020
1) The Deceivers: 4 stars
2) Scammed: 5 stars

Scammed is a deliciously twisty follow-up to The Deceivers and I read the second half of the book in one sitting! Could NOT put it down. The pacing is fantastic and in Vale Hall, you can never be sure who to trust. Set at a school for con artists, we continue to follow Brynn on her journey. Having been plucked out of the slums in book 1, she now discovers that everything may not be as it seems and she is becoming increasingly dependent on the mysterious founder of the school. There is also a wonderfully juicy love triangle. Love is always complicated, but when you add cons and marks, it can be hard to discern truth from lies.

I don't want to say too much because of spoilers, but I think this is a fun, smart YA thriller that interrogates complex moral questions and the corruption that can come with power and privilege. It kept me hooked right up to the ending and I will for sure be reading book 3. I liked that this feels like a complete story arc with some degree of resolution, but still having some big open questions for the next book. Definitely recommend! Do check content warnings below if you need them, because there are some things that may bother certain readers. This includes a queer character having a relationship that does not end well. I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

CW include references to murder, physical fighting, manipulation, deception in romantic relationships, being on a semi relationship break and kissing someone else, step-parents wanting a gay character to go to conversion therapy, a gay character being romantically manipulated, possible link between mental health and violence, teen pregnancy and consideration of an abortion.
Profile Image for Jenn.
1,727 reviews294 followers
April 1, 2020
4.5 Stars

Well damn... this was a roller coaster that I did not expect.

After devouring The Deceivers, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequel. This was another book I devoured in one sitting, because it was just that good. There will probably be slight spoilers of the first book below, so you have been warned!

At the end of the first book, Brynn watched as Grayson drove away after she basically let him go. So imagine her shock when Grayson shows back up at her school and he doesn't seem to be leaving anytime soon. Now all of the lies Brynn told in the first book must continue now that Grayson is in the mix. But pretty soon, the line between the lies and the truths start to blur and Brynn must figure out who to trust, because there's more on the line then she thinks.

So let me tell you, I thought I had this book pegged. I knew who was lying, where this was going and how the book would end - and let me also tell you that I was wrong about most of it. Simmons has this beautiful way of making you look over here while something major is happening over there and you don't even notice until it's too late. The mystery is fantastic! This installment takes everything you thought you knew and just flips it on you.

Everyone is back and the accusations are flying. While all the characters have their moments, no one even comes close to Henry. And if anything happens to him AT ALL, well, I can't be blamed for my actions.

I cannot wait for the final book, but now I wait....

Profile Image for Michelle .
2,016 reviews230 followers
February 3, 2021
The Deceivers is the first book in the young adult Vale Hall series by Kristen Simmons. This series is marketed as Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11 and I was so pumped when I saw that. To me that means, witty dialogue, smart fun characters, mystery and cons! And I have to say The Deceivers has all of that in spades! The story is set in Vale Hall, which is a school for aspiring con artists. How freaking cool is that? That was basically all I needed to know before I dove in to the story. I loved the Deceivers. I binge read all three books currently out in this series in the span of a couple of days. They are so, so much fun!

In The Deceivers we meet our main character Brynn Hilder as she is recruited to Vale. I love Brynn. I will say that it took me some time to get to know her, but she really grew on me as I read the Deceivers. The school itself and the people there have so many secrets. It really is like cons mixed with trying to solve some deeply buried secrets. I was fascinated by the story. I loved meeting some of the other students at the school, and when I was done with the book I was really excited to get to know even more of the students in the next book. So far, Caleb is my favorite character. I really enjoyed that the author really upped her game in the secrets and deceiving category. I had no idea who I could trust throughout this book. It really helped me connect and relate to Brynn as she was trying to sus out the same thing. I think this series is screaming to be made into a netflix or CW tv show. It would be perfect for that! I am loving this series. Bring on book 3!
Profile Image for Katherine Paschal.
2,157 reviews57 followers
September 2, 2020
Scammed picks up months after the events of the first book, The Deceivers, where Brynn is doing her best to follow instructions and be useful in her scamming school so she can make something of her life. But when Grayson, the boy who was her first assigned mark that went horribly wrong, shows up at her school, Brynn's entire world is now spinning out of her control.

This book was complicated in the best of ways and full of heartbreak, angst and hard choices.  This review will be brief since it was such an intense ride and I don't want to spoil anything. Make sure you read the first book and then you can jump right in to Scammed.

I was set up for an angsty love triangle, not sure who I wanted to root for with two very good yet broken choices- when next thing I knew, the carpet was ripped out from under Brynn's (and my) feet and nothing was what I first thought. Sure, the angst was still there, but romance is kind of a moot point when everything else is unraveling. Scammed was shocking, with so many completely hot mess twists I could never have seen coming and I am so amped for another book set in this world. Nothing about this story I could have predicted, everyone was lying or keeping secrets and shocks kept popping up. Talk about being kept on my toes.
Profile Image for Erin Arkin.
1,662 reviews356 followers
February 6, 2020
Ahhh Soo good!

Scammed is book two in the Vale Hall series by Kristen Simmons and if you haven’t picked this series up yet, you definitely need to change that. Simmons not only has a page turning story in this second book, but I was so invested in the characters that I couldn’t stop reading because I needed to know what was going to happen next. No spoilers here – it is a book two though so if you haven’t read The Deceivers yet, proceed with caution.

Brynn is our main character but at Vale Hall there are a number of other characters she is interacting with and each one has their own secrets. What she has to figure out is who she can trust and it’s not as easy as one would think.

In this book, Brynn is still working for Dr. Odin but she questions just about everything he tells her and when what he asks her to do begins to make her question Caleb, things start to get twisty. I can’t say too much about this because it is core to the story, and I don’t want to give anything away. Just know that there is so much that we don’t know right along with Brynn so I can’t hold any of her decisions against her. Well…maybe most of them.

Right along with all of that, Grayson is back in the picture which only complicates things more. This is where I wanted to elbow Brynn and tell her to think about what she is doing. So much happens with Grayson now that he is at the school and a big piece of the puzzle for Dr. Odin. I will tell you, I have always had strong feelings about Grayson and this book only solidifies my thoughts about him.

I have to also mention that I loved that we had more time with the secondary characters in this book. We got more exposure to Charlotte, Henry, Sam, and Geri and I thought it provided a bit more depth to them so I could better understand their relationships with Brynn. Of course, the bits with Caleb and Brynn together are some of my favorites.

I hate that I have to be super vague with this review but I really don’t want to ruin anything as there are plenty of twists and turns that will keep you guessing around what is really going on and right along with Brynn you will be trying to figure it all out. If you take anything away from this review, please know that I loved this book and can’t wait for the next book to see what happens next. Grab this book when you can…you won’t regret it!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sarah {The Clever Reader}.
527 reviews75 followers
September 1, 2020
Wow. I thought book one was a crazy ride but it definitely had nothing on this one!

Brynn is at a school for con artists and when she gets caught up in a murder mystery she has no idea who to trust or what will happen next. All Brynn knows is that the boy she let go has shown up on her doorstep and as each piece of the puzzle falls into place she's not sure if she made the right decision or not.

Brynn and Caleb have to keep their relationship a secret but when Brynn is assigned to Grayson things get a bit messy and now Caleb is acting strange. This world is filled with so many twists and turns. You won't know who to trust from one minute to the next and betrayal seems to be around the corner no matter which direction Brynn takes.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good YA Mystery! I can't wait to read book three because it's bound to be a wild ride!
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,434 reviews234 followers
January 31, 2020
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Brynn felt fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Vale Hall, even if it came at a cost, and she was determined to maintain her place there. When complications arose from her previous assignment, she found herself unable to determine, who she could and could not trust, when picking the wrong allies could result in some serious consequences.

I have to commend Simmons on the name of this book. It was quite appropriate, as just about every character got scammed at some point. The lines between good and evil, as well as alliances, were blurred, and this really strained relations at Vale Hall.

It's difficult to review sequels, and especially this book, without giving too much away, but I will say there were several things that stood out for me.

• I felt like I got to know the other students at Vale Hall on a more personal level. I knew things about them from the first book, but the time I spent with them this time, seemed to reveal different layers of their lives to me, and I felt move invested in all of them because of that.

• The group really seemed to grow even closer together at one point, and I had those warm and fuzzy found family vibes going on, especially when things got really complicated.

• Holy twists and turns! I was caught very much off guard by a few of the reveals, and I have to say, the story took a turn, that has me chomping at the bit for the next book.

I was glad that some things still carried over from the last book, The Deceivers. For instance, I still adored Caleb, I was still fascinated by the world of Vale Hall, and I was still undecided about whether Dr. O was good or bad.

This book was addictive, and hard to put down. Simmons really shook the foundation of that school! I was so invested and drawn into this world, and the ending! That ending left me with all sorts of emotions, as well as a million questions. I can only sit back, and impatiently await my next thrilling ride with the denizens of Vale Hall.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Brinley.
1,016 reviews68 followers
November 19, 2020
Just like the first book, this was delightfully twisty! Part of the reason I love this series so much is the concept, teenagers preforming cons are so fun to read. I loved how this book gave us a lot more insight into some of the secondary characters, it was super fun to learn more about them. Henry is a particular favorite, he’s great. I wasn’t a huge fan of the love triangle in this (mainly because I don’t like Caleb, or who Brynn chooses in the end) but I loved seeing more of Grayson. If you enjoyed Deceivers, expect this one to be even better!
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.4k reviews425 followers
February 24, 2020
This one is aptly titled because for most of the book you don't know who is being scammed. Just when you think you have a handle on things something happens and you are clueless again. By the time I got to the end my mind was a little bit blown, not sure how the "bad guy" thinks he can get away with all of this considering who these kids are. They have been taught well, they have been used in the past and won't stand for it again. The next book will be very interesting.
Profile Image for olivia.
639 reviews
February 11, 2020
4.5; i love the vale hall family 🥺 excited that the final instalment will finally have them all working together again rather than being all at odds with each other,,, honestly kind of a stressful read but a worth it ending
Profile Image for Shawna Finnigan.
475 reviews313 followers
January 23, 2020
There's less than two weeks before this book gets released, so it's time for my review.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me review this book.

Scammed is the second book in the Vale Hall series that centers around a school for con artists. This book has even more twists, shocks, and romantic scenes than the first book, which left me wanting more.

Kristen Simmons has a way with words that makes me completely immersed in the world and unable to put the book down. All the characters in this book were just as amazing as what they were in the first book and the plot was so much fun.

Henry and Charlotte are definitely my favorite characters and I loved getting to spend more time with them in this book.

I highly recommend that everyone reads this series because it will blow your mind and you will not be able to stop reading it once you start.
Profile Image for Jaime Arkin.
1,422 reviews1,325 followers
November 9, 2019
Holy crap that was quite the ride! I totally didn’t see those twists and is it too early to ask for book 3?!?

I love these characters and this story and I can’t wait to see where Kristen takes us in book 3!
Profile Image for Caryn - iam.caryn.
741 reviews84 followers
February 3, 2020
As I mentioned in my review for The Deceivers, Simmons’ writing style is outstanding. She sets tone and scenes in such a way that you feel like you’re right there in the book. It starts to feel like this isn’t even a book any more, it’s an experience.

I do wish it was more widely known that Vale Hall is inspired by Valhalla in Norse mythology. This is definitely something that should be pushed more. Simmons is so incredibly clever in how she’s telling the story of Brynn Hilder in Vale Hall. It’s some of the most unique storytelling I’ve seen.

The series reads a lot like a high school (or con artists school) contemporary novel with just enough mystery and twists that makes you go “wait, what?”

I love reading about the relationships between the few main students a lot. The dynamic between them all has a “found family” feel, which is one of my favourite tropes.

And now I’m entering the agonizing year-long wait for The Measure of Risk. I’m so excited to see how this trilogy will conclude.
Profile Image for Katie.
65 reviews1 follower
November 6, 2022
This is really one of those stories where the main character has to be stupid for the plot to work. I really liked the first book and I was excited when I found out there were more books in the series but this was a little disappointing.

It gets to the point about half way through the book where it just doesn’t make sense that Brynn believes what anyone tells her? But she constantly does. She’s supposed to be a con artist with a jaded past but she just seems to go along with whatever the last person told her.

Also I thought the plot was a bit too convoluted for its own good. I liked where it ended up and I like how all the plot points came together in the end but reading the intern plot line felt disjointed and unimportant compared to the other plots and I think that probably could have been set up and connected in a more interesting way.

Overall I think this was markedly worse than the first book, but I also think it set up the next book very well. I’m still excited to see where the next book goes even if I didn’t like this one very much.
Profile Image for CR.
2,834 reviews28 followers
November 14, 2019
So too much of this was going to be a spoiler and well I don't want to do that to you. So this book was so freaking awesome I could not put it down!! Is it to early to ask for a copy of book three!? February is so far away for this one to come out so I will have to wait for about two extra months over that year or so to read book three and that I can say with confidence that it might kill me. In this one we learn about the characters more and the story unfolds I need a finished copy of this one now so I can have a reason to read it again.
Profile Image for McKenzi.
671 reviews24 followers
May 14, 2020
This book was certainly interesting from the first page. There was so many twists and turns in this book with plots that I didn’t even see coming. I love being back with this group and my love for Moore just grew so much in this book. Who knew that security guard would grow to care for Brynn and be such a badass.
Profile Image for Cecily Wolfe.
Author 20 books491 followers
December 11, 2019
I had a really hard time putting this one down! I loved book one, but wow, this one went more in depth so we get to know the characters even better, and by doing that, the author has sucked me in even more. Fast-paced and so very rewarding - I can't wait for book three!
Profile Image for Mary Lindsey.
Author 9 books954 followers
February 24, 2020
Smart and beautifully paced. I love this series and cannot wait for the release of book 3. (Hurry, Kristen!)
Profile Image for Kirsty-Marie Jones.
409 reviews45 followers
July 12, 2020
*puts book in the naughty corner*
*backs away slowly*
*whispers* think about what you did
Profile Image for Christy.
1,505 reviews258 followers
January 10, 2021
How am I going to survive the three ways to book 3!?!?!
Profile Image for Megan.
562 reviews
July 28, 2021
Rating: 3.7/5.0

I’ve briefly mentioned before that second books in a series aren’t the best out of the bunch. Scammed is definitely in that category of second book-itis. While it was interesting and the cons and stakes are a lot heavier, the plot doesn’t have as much going for it other than a severe case of Love Triangles and Some Side Character Things and then the very end, where it sets up for the third.

There wasn’t much to the plot. A lot of things happened and yet it didn’t feel as interesting or captivating as The Deceivers. Sure, it read just as quickly and I about devoured it within a matter of moments, but I still didn’t appreciate the plot very much. As I said before, it’s pretty much Love Triangle Angst. I guess some side character stuff happened at different moments, though we don’t see much of them, and then Simmons starts getting into the next book. You can tell because everything starts pointing to a bigger deal and that’s where you can sense a cliffhanger or inconclusive ending.

As much as I’m enjoying the series, I personally was slightly bored even though I was, again, devouring it.


But after so many paragraphs and chapters dedicated to Brynn’s inability to pick a person to chase after and yet still ending up in the same scenarios requiring her to pick a person to chase after, a person can only take so much. When confronted with Side Character Drama, I was expecting more of them and finally a break from the Brynn-Grayson-Caleb show.

But we didn’t!

I get that Brynn has a lot going on in her love life, but she was severely self-absorbed. Charlotte is one of the closest people to her, and yet Brynn has only a slight moment where she regrets not being there for her or stopping to listen to her. Though, I guess if it’s anything like how she basically forgot about her mom other than a few moments in the last book and this one, that might just fit her character.

Oh, also there's a moment where Caleb's fingertips "skim across the small of my back when he passes" and then "{Brynn's} own hand lingers there, trying to re-create his touch." I may be a little clueless when it comes to human bodies but a) isn't it hard to touch the small of your back? and b) as it isn't impossible, isn't it hard to do that sneakily?

I did want more side characters. I wanted more page time with them. They’re supposed to be background characters, but they In my mind, background characters are only for select moments or to fill blank pages, but not only when it’s convenient. The blank pages in question should be shifted so it feels more natural. Brynn spends every day with these people, and most of them are some of her only closest friends. And I find it hard to imagine that they’d only talk when Brynn is available, or that they’d be okay and stable in their friendship with Brynn almost ignoring them for her Love Triangle.

I’m sorry (not sorry) but Love Triangles make me really mad, especially when they’re done in this fashion.


It has been written in stone that Brynn and Caleb have this remarkable chemistry and this all-star romance that will forever be etched into time and break the universe, and Caleb’s got some history in falling for your mark, but Brynn can’t keep falling for the most basic lines and stuff. She’s trying to get closer to her mark, yes, but also, letting him pull her into his lap? Kissing him? Getting caught? Defending him constantly even though it’s clear he’s at fault? Or even when he’s just making the situation worse? Trust me when I say I would have punted that kid so hard he’d finally listen to authority.

Can we review a couple of my favorite lines in this book? Brynn as a character is funny and I like her snark and quick wit. But some of these one-liners made me laugh, so I thought I’d add them.

‘He grins up at me, pointing to his missing bottom tooth.
“Oh, man,” I say. “I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your teeth are rotting out.”’

‘“Rule number two,” says Moore. “Driving’s a privilege. You get it when you learn to take care of a car.”
“I’ll feed it twice a day and tuck it in every night, scout’s honor.” I hold up three fingers.’

Her retorts can sometimes slay me in the best possible way.

But other than her comebacks, the rest of her falls flat.

At first, she’s so focused on Caleb always being right and Geri always being this lying chick who is just out to mess with her, that she forgets that Geri knows what she’s going through. Geri has also had Grayson as her mark, and she knows what it takes to keep up that scheme. Why didn’t it ever occur to Brynn to talk to her instead of being so against her?

And then Brynn turns against Caleb even though half her theme is to trust him with her life. (Also, Caleb’s inability to talk about important things makes me really upset, too. It’s like those scenarios like “oh, I saw the guy with the gun was aiming at you, but I didn’t want to yell at you to look out and make him shoot you anyway. Oopsie.”)

Brynn, having been shown lots of reasons why she shouldn’t trust different people, forgets she’s literally in a school dedicated to helping people be better liars and immediately trusts those people with all the red flags and throws out the others. There are about two or three people she’d go to when she’s in trouble: Caleb, Grayson, and Dr. O/Moore (they can be interchangeable so I’m only counting them as one person.) It just bugs me that she’s selective in her trust even though a lot of people warn her against them.

Honestly, the only people with a fully-developed character in this one feels like Brynn and Grayson. Caleb is mysterious and keeps to himself and acts out of character from what we’d seen in the first one, which confused me. Also, who are Paz and Joel? I don’t even remember them being characters.

I am ready for the next one. I’m hoping it’ll be better than Scammed and The Deceivers because I tend to like the third books the best. I’m also hoping it’ll bring back the characters I’ve missed. Plus, who doesn’t love the cons and the schemes and the sarcasm?

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