Suspense Young Adult

Payback by Kristen Simmons Review

Pulse-pounding finale to the Vale Hall trilogy.

Vale Hall is an elite boarding school where a select few students (each plucked from troubled backgrounds) get to prepare for the future and colleges of their dreams. In truth, though, it’s a bit shadier than that. Vale Hall is really a clandestine training ground for con artists (run by Dr. Odin), and there is much that is expected of the scholarship students (among them, Brynn Hilder). Rule one: follow the rules.

Vale Hall is Brynn’s ticket out of Devon Park — a rough neighborhood that’s left Brynn with a childhood of emotional scars. It’s Brynn’s only shot at a future. And with so much at stake, the lines between right and wrong are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate — especially when the bad guys are no longer as clearly distinguishable from the rest of the pack. The question is: who and what is Brynn willing to sacrifice to protect her future, her friends, and to keep her mother safe? Brynn grew up running cons (learned the trade from her mother’s ex), but this con might just be the one to break her.

The plot twists are heart-stopping. The action is edge-of-your seat. There’s so much at stake here, not just for Sikawa City or Brynn, but for the entire cast of characters. Forever huggable Henry, morally gray Grayson, and the-first-boyfriend-we-all-wish-we’d-had Caleb Matsuki… and Charlotte and Sam, and, yes, even Geri! Simmons just has a way with characters — even her secondary stars get full-fledged character arcs! They glow on the page, making the dialogue some of the best I’ve read. Prepare to love, hate, care, and be emotionally invested. The Vale Hall trilogy is one of my must-read recommendations for all those who love YA suspense, mystery, a great heist story — or all three!


Book: Payback (Vale Hall #3)
Published: Tor Teen
Pages: 352
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Age Range: 14 – 18
Stars: 5/5

Macmillan – Tor/Forge kindly sent me a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

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