Friday, April 12, 2019

Book Review: "Immoral Code" by Lillian Clark

I read a lot of YA books, but I must admit, reading Lillian Clark's new book, Immoral Code, was the first time I felt old reading this genre. There are certainly universal themes of friendship, loyalty, and love, but perhaps because the book deals with a lot of technological stuff, some of the lingo used went over my head. (It's embarrassing to admit I'd never heard the term "ace/aro" to describe someone who is asexual and aromantic—I know what these words mean, but I wasn't familiar with the abbreviation. Sigh.)

Nari, Bellamy, Keagan, Santiago, and Reese are a group of five friends on the cusp of high school graduation. Nari is a hacker who wants a career at a major technology company after college. Her boyfriend, Keagan, just wants to be with her and doesn't have many ambitions beyond that. Reese is a talented visual artist who is fierce and fiercely independent. Santiago, despite his parents' objections, is headed to Stanford on a diving scholarship—and hopefully the Olympics. Bellamy is absolutely brilliant, and she dreams of going to MIT.

There's just one hitch in Bells' plan. Her financial-genius father, whom she has never met, makes so much money that he's negated any possibility of her getting the financial aid she needs to attend MIT. As part of the agreement between him and her mother, he only provides a minimal amount of child support each month, so she's not even allowed to ask him for help. How could her dreams be dashed so badly by someone who has never been a part of her life (except her conception)?

Nari is outraged by her friend's situation and decides there's only one way to solve the problem: since Bells' father makes so much money, he probably wouldn't notice if a tiny bit was missing, right? Nari plans to hack into his bank accounts and skim just a little off the top of every million dollars he makes, until she accrues enough to pay Bells' tuition? Seems like an easy plan, right?

Of course, not everyone is a fan of the idea, given it's a crime that could land them all in jail. But why should a man who has never cared one iota for Bells ruin her dreams and her chance for an incredible future? When hacking from a distance doesn't seem to be working, the quintet plans a road trip to hack into his computer in person. It's the ultimate rob the rich, give to the poor scheme.

Despite making me feel a bit curmudgeon-like, this book was a fun ride. I really liked the characters and the way they interacted with each other. While the subject matter of the book was super-technical in parts, I didn't feel like the characters were overly sophisticated or too erudite for their own good—these were, for the most part, highly intelligent teenagers jousting with the verbal swordplay you'd expect from kids like this.

The book shifts narration among all five characters, which did get a little distracting at times. It was helpful to hear how each perceived the events of the book, particularly Nari's scheme, but often the voices seemed more similar than the characters did, so I had to go back and remind myself whose chapter this was. Beyond that, though, Clark's voice is a fresh one, and this take on a heist story was enjoyable.

NetGalley, Random House Children's, and Knopf Books for Young Readers provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!


  1. I liked this one too, but I guess because I worked in a high school for 12 years, I am ok with most of the lingo (though, I may be getting out of touch as my daughter ages and I am not longer in education). I thought the author did a nice job making the many POVs distinct, and I was a fan of the friendship.

    1. I was ok with the lingo, but I didn't get all of it right away, lol!