High school. Seniors facing a strange future – the unknown of new schools, leaving friends and family – sometimes for the first time. Romances that are not likely to survive the changes that come with graduation. This is the setting for Lillian Clark’s young adult novel, Immoral Code.
High School senior, Bellamy, is one of the senior class’s smartest students. She’s got her eye on MIT, which is maybe the only school that will really challenge her but getting accepted is only the first hurdle. After being accepted to the school of her choice, Bellamy learns that she is denied for financial aid, which will make it impossible to attend this elite school. But if she’s in such need, why is she denied? Bellamy lives with her mother and it’s no secret that the two of them are extremely poor. Bellamy’s biological father, on the other hand, is a very wealthy business owner. He has made his child-support payments, as directed by the court following the divorce, but he’s otherwise had absolutely no contact or interaction with Bellamy or her mom since Bellamy was born. None of this matters to the MIT institution, which only recognizes that Bellamy’s father does not need their need-based financial aid.
Bellamy sends a letter of introduction and appeal for assistance to attend MIT to her father, but she gets no response and depressingly resigns herself to a different school.
Enter Nari – Bellamy’s best friend and computer hacker genius. Suggesting that Bellamy is owed this money by a father she’s never known, the two hatch a plot to hack into the father’s business and divert (steal) the money that would be needed to attend MIT into Bellamy’s account.
But this is not some Mom & Pop business operation that they want to hack into. This is a mega corporation with layers and layers of security walls making it nearly impossible for someone on the outside to break through. Ah… but hacking from the inside might be much easier.
Enter Keagan (Nari’s boyfriend), Santiago (a swimmer with a shot at making the Olympic team), and Reese – an aroace teen (and yes, I had to look that word up). This group of five students make their “Ocean’s 11”-like plans to infiltrate Bellamy’s father’s business and rob them of enough money to attend MIT for four years.
I know that I am not the target audience for this book. It is definitely intended to student-aged readers, and probably more likely to be read by those who identify as female. Yet I enjoyed this.
Clark has given us a pretty straightforward, simple story (break into a business and steal money) and surrounded it with interesting characters who have much more going on in their lives than just trying to rob from an absent father. The actual action of the story probably could have been told in 1/3 the pages and normally I’d find this to be way too much time spent on character building, but I think that for the intended reader, this creates a better bond with the characters. A teen’s life at this time is not really about just one thing (stealing from dad) but about a whirlwind of thoughts, fears, and emotions (Santiago is probably the poster boy for this).
This is not a book for me, but definitely a book I would recommend for many high school students (especially those who don’t want to read a fantasy).
Looking for a good book? Immoral Code by Lillian Clark captures the life of a graduating high school student quite well, and gives us a good bit of action thriller as well.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Lillian Clark
publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
hardcover, 310 pages