One night, five high school teens receive the same invitation to meet at a spot near their high school at night. They follow clues leading up to the water tower.
Meet Max Cobb, Ellie Wick (good girl), Kate Malone(artist), Tim Adleta (jock), and Dave Wheeler (bad influence) – known as the Water Tower Five. After being caught and humiliated by their Water Tower incident, their mission is to take down the Chaos Club; they are known for pulling the greatest pranks but never getting caught.
Pranks are fired left and right throughout this story. As well as the consequences that go after them. The Water Tower 5 doesn’t back down. The Chaos Club has been around for nearly 40 years. They have pulled some dirty, and hurtful pranks; such as cows on the school roof.
The premise of this story is to have the reader constantly wondering “Who is the Chaos Club?” because nobody knows. Why did they all get sent to the Water Tower that night? You just have to read to find out.
Max is the main character and the narrator. Max is trying to find himself through his passion for heist films. He really develops as a character throughout the story. He was known as “Just-Max” and later becomes “Not-Max” who is a leader and prank planner. He ends up getting himself into some trouble along the way.
We do get to see the faculty and staff of the high school play a role in the story. Primarily, the vice-principal (Mr. Stranko) and the school’s resource officer (Mr. Hale). They are always there to say something when a prank goes down. But, there are some appearances from the principal (Mrs. Barber).
Character development really stood out to me in this story. All of the Water Tower 5 go through development and it is shown very nicely. I loved how the friendship was formed between the group, they all became great friends though they are from different crowds.
The dialogue was written well, I really liked Max as a character. He was witty, sarcastic and had me laughing-out-loud! I felt connected to the characters while reading and addicted to the story. The suspense was real, I even gasped at points in the book!
Kurt Dinan focuses on bullying in this story and I really enjoyed how he did it, I was definitely getting angry around those scenes. He also focuses on other messages such as guilt; were the pranks going too far?
The best word I can use to describe this story is simply that it was fun. I had such a fun time reading this and flew through it! Please do yourself a favor and go pick this up today! Happy Book Birthday @KurtDinan!
Kurt Dinan has taught high school English for over twenty-one years, and while he’s never pulled any of the pranks detailed in this novel, he was once almost arrested in college for blizzarding the campus with fliers promoting a fake concert. He lives and works in the suburbs of Cincinnati with his wife and his four children he affectionately refers to as “the Crime Spree.” Don’t Get Caught is his first novel.
Excerpt for Don’t Get Caught:
Ellie calls it Operation Stranko Caper and gives each member of the Water Tower Five code names related to his or her role.
Adleta is Goon.
Malone is Shadow.
Wheeler is Potatoes.
Ellie is Crybaby.
And I’m Bleeder.
But at the moment, waiting for zero hour while standing in the back hallway where I can view the filled cafeteria, I’m feeling more like Puker because I want to sprint to the bathroom to vomit up my guts.
And to think this was all my idea. Here’s Heist Planning 101:
1.Identify your target. In this case, the target is Stranko’s phone. Clearly he’s investigating the Chaos Club; the pictures he took in the office prove that. Who knows what other evidence against them he might have?
2.Formulate a plan. It took a week of observing Stranko during school (all of us) and after (thank you, Adleta) to realize he’s most separated from his phone during lunch duty. It sits on a table on the stage next to where Stranko polices the cafeteria. Now, if he were to be pulled away from the stage…
- Practice, practice, practice. The five of us rehearsed our roles for over a week. The plan isn’t the most complicated, but we only have one shot at Stranko’s phone.
Our final run-through of the plan lasted two hours on Saturday, with Ellie and Wheeler the most excited. Even Adleta, who’s probably risking at least a thousand push-ups every day for the rest of his life, liked the idea. Malone, go figure, predicted failure.
“It won’t work,” she said. “Maybe in a movie, yes, but not in real life it won’t.”
“No, they won’t see it coming,” I said. “No one expects things like this to happen, and especially not from us. We’re trying to stay out of trouble, remember? Why would we risk getting suspended?”
“Max is right,” Adleta said. “There’ll be too much going on for Stranko to realize what’s happened. It’s going to work.”
“What if we get caught?”
“Then we do what you should do whenever you get busted,” Wheeler said. “We lie our asses off.”
I don’t mind Malone’s concerns. In fact, I appreciate them. The more I’m around her, the more I depend on her skepticism. Every heist crew needs someone to point out the weaknesses in a plan. Malone’s perfect for that. She’s also tech savvy, a brilliant artist, and athletic as hell. A jack-of-all-trades, really. Or more like a jill-of-all-trades.
A heist can go wrong for any number of reasons, the worst of which is the double cross. You can just never be sure if everyone is really on your side or if they’re working an angle. I don’t necessarily think anyone in my crew is behind the setup at the water tower, but the hint of doubt is there. Still, why would someone set us up to get busted and include him or herself in the busting? It makes no sense.
We picked Monday for our heist because that’s the school day where everyone, even the administration, just slogs through until the final bell. At the time I was excited, but now it’s nausea city. Reality sucks that way. But I’m not going to back down and hide in the theater again like I did the day after the water tower. Not that I could put a stop to our plan if I wanted to. Everyone’s in position. The pin’s pulled and the grenade heaved. All I can do is try not to get my head blown off.
On stage, Stranko reads something on his phone, then places it on the table beside him before returning to his surveillance. In a lot of ways, thinking of him as a prison guard is dead-on. The entire building is a prison, with the staff as guards, students as prisoners, and rules that dictate when we can stand up and leave, talk, and even go the to the bathroom. The school even has security cameras, which are positioned in all corners of the cafeteria. I’ve seen the room with the video monitors though and am not as worried as I might be in a newer school. The monitors here are in black and white and the images almost blurry, like it may be the first security system ever created, maybe used back in the Garden of Eden where God watched a grainy image of Eve heisting that apple.
Then, right on cue at 11:45, Crybaby, sitting at her usual table near the front of the cafeteria, pushes her tray aside and puts her head down in her arms.
Step One, the Split, has begun.
WIN 2 COPIES OF DON’T GET CAUGHT! – April 1-April 30 (US & Canada only)
WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER (created by and starring his students)