By Cynthia Bujnicki
It is senior year, and for Nari and her friends, they all have bright futures ahead of them. Especially Bellamy who got into MIT, early decision. There is just one problem; her financial aid appeal was denied because her father, a man she has never known or had any contact with, is loaded. However, for Nari, hacker extraordinaire, she is not going to let that go and hatches a plan to steal from the rich to give to the poor.
Published February 19, 2019, by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers Immoral Code
by Lillian Clark is her debut young adult contemporary novel that follows five friends of the heist of their lifetime.
Immoral Code is fun and thoughtful. This novel is about five friends as they plan to cyber-steal some money from one neglectful dad to help one of their friends go to college. What a brilliant thought and unique as well. By the synopsis, it almost feels as though it is a reach, as though the narrative would require the reader to suspend too much belief in order to follow the plot, but it does not. These are five kids, each of them brilliant in their small ways, and each narrative, each persona allows the reader to get to know them and connect to them. These are bright kids, and they are all doing this not only for their friend but also for themselves. Following each persona, going into their backstory in little tidbits keeps the momentum of the story going while also building the characters more, allowing them to become more than five names in a book each with a skill set essential for pulling this off. Their internal narratives, their issues both personal and familial layer the story and make it something more significant than some young adult prequel to Ocean’s 8. There is depth to the novel and the characters as they each have to face something, something personal. The heist is a challenge to them, but not because it is some impossible plan that has a slim chance of winning, but because they are forced to challenge their perceptions of right and wrong, of personal choice.
What is also captivating about the characters is that they are not just a gang of hetero-normal white kids; they are diverse. Santiago is Mexican-American, first-generation; Nari is Japanese American, and Reese is asexual/aromantic. These are some of the identifiers that layer the story with intricacies and conflict. The gang all face internal conflict but those bubble out and soon become external conflict which makes the story realistic. They re risking their very bright futures to commit a felony that is bound to create conflict, and to see the conflict bubble up slowly, inching its way through the narrative is captivating. The reader knows there is going to be a blowout, but the when and how is unknown, it keeps the reader hooked because of the characters, because of how different and devoted they are to one another.
It is a page-turning novel that grips the reader through the character development and dynamics flowing at a brilliant page that keeps the reader intrigued throughout. (★★★★★ | A+)