Gotcha! by Shelley Hrdlitschka | Paperback | Barnes & Noble


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by Shelley Hrdlitschka

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It's "bead season" at slippery rock high. This year the bead-snatching grad game called "Gotcha" has been banned as an official school activity because the teachers have decided to put an end to a dangerous tradition. After paying an entry fee the players are given a bead and someone's name. The object of the game is snatch the bead of your victim and take their


It's "bead season" at slippery rock high. This year the bead-snatching grad game called "Gotcha" has been banned as an official school activity because the teachers have decided to put an end to a dangerous tradition. After paying an entry fee the players are given a bead and someone's name. The object of the game is snatch the bead of your victim and take their name. The winner ends up with all the beads—and all the money.

After the game is banned it becomes even more appealing. The game goes underground and more grads than ever are participating. Katie is reluctant to join in, but as a member of grad council she feels she has to go along.

The game quickly spins out of control. Katie finds herself losing friends and falling victim to her classmates' obsession with the game. She considers dropping out of the game but then devises a better way of getting even with her classmates. Katie finds herself sliding further and further down the chute that leads to disaster. Can she bring a safe end to this deadly game?

Editorial Reviews

CM Magazine
South Western Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group
"Wrapped up in the storyline of the Gotcha game is romance, family drama, teenage angst, and mob mentality. The fast paced action of this book keeps the reader hooked."
Resource Links
"An intriguing look into high school social life…Teen readers will thoroughly enjoy reading this novel!"
Happy Tiler Blog
"Rich with the complexities of teen behavior, a great concept full of substance and peppered with intrigue makes for an exciting teen novel...[Hrdlitschka] does an excellent job entertaining while educating the reader on how teen choices can quickly and inadvertently go awry."
Canadian Children's Book News
"Award-winning author Shelley Hrdlitschka spins this idea into a fast-paced and thrilling read for older teens, looking closely at the idea of mob mentality, and how even the smartest of people can get swept away with the crowd."
"Shelley Hrdlitschka writes an interesting book that looks at what adrenaline and competitiveness can do to humans, how it can change them. The book has many plot twists that keep the reader engaged and wanting more."
"Fast-paced and exciting...worth having in your YA collection."
SWON Libraries
"Covers some very important matters: honesty, integrity, right and wrong, and peer pressure...Will keep readers turning the pages. Recommended."
Children's Literature - Jennifer Wood
Katie McLeod does not want to participate in the grade 12 bead game known as Gotcha! but Katie's best friend Paige convinces her to play. Since the prize for winning this year is $2,120, people soon resort to dangerous tactics that sometimes border on stalking. The only way for players to protect their beads is to link arms with another player still in the game, but Katie quickly learns even this is not enough. She attends a party after spraining her ankle, but the partygoers get angry when she embellishes the story behind her injury. The others attack Katie and her date Joel and take away her crutches, leaving Katie and Joel to crumble to the floor. This still is not enough, as the mob jeers for her to walk to the kitchen to prove she did not make up the injury itself. Katie is only saved by the arrival of Warren, the class president, who ends the harassment and retrieves Katie's crutches. Katie considers quitting the game but decides instead she must win it all when she loses the Gotcha! funds after loaning them to her deadbeat dad. Katie betrays Paige, Joel, and other friends on her way to the top, only to be betrayed by Warren himself, who cheats his way to victory. Though she assumes she is immune to the mob mentality that takes over the night of the party, Katie finds it difficult to take action when the other seniors decide to punish Warren. The subject matter seems more suited to high school students, though Katie's voice frequently seems inauthentic, and the inclusion of a hemp string with a bead—similar to those described in the game—seems an inappropriate choice that could encourage other teens to try playing the game despite the dangers depicted. Reviewer:Jennifer Wood
KLIATT - Amanda MacGregor
The senior class of Slippery Rock High School is psyched to play Gotcha, a traditional pre-graduation game now banned by the school's administration. The students take their game underground, hiding it from the officials. In Gotcha, each participant has a bead on a string and the name of a "victim." Once the victim is tagged, the other student gets the bead and the name of the victim. The game goes on until there is only one player remaining. The cost to enter into the game is $10, and the winner will receive $2,120. It seems harmless enough, but the game is essentially encouraging the students to stalk one another and scheme against each other. Katie doesn't want to participate, but can't get out of it. When she loans her father the prize money, she ends up determined to win. The game quickly spirals out of control, with students going to great lengths to obtain more beads. Katie is horrified at the plotting and mob mentality, but finds herself helpless to stop it or go against it. It's up to Katie to put a stop to the madness, but can she do it in time? Though the plot sometimes drags, the game always moves quickly, keeping the reader interested. The alliances, set ups, and schemes packed into the story make what initially seems like a fairly straightforward game much more interesting. Katie's misgivings about the destructive nature of the game will force readers to wonder how she could give in to something she didn't think was right to begin with. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

About to graduate from high school, Katie needs money for college, which motivates her to play a game banned by the school administration. Played only by seniors, Gotcha! has gone underground this year. The person who acquires the most beads from fellow players wins, and this year the jackpot exceeds $3000. Despite the competition bringing out the worst in people, the size of the prize makes it worthwhile even with the inevitable dangers. Friends betray friends. Students risk physical harm, trying to avoid having their beads captured. During the game, Katie seems to have acquired an added benefit: a boyfriend in Joel. Unfortunately, she doesn't know whether to trust that he really likes her or to believe he's angling to win the game. Worse, as class treasurer, Katie is keeping the prize money in her bank account, and she lends it to her dad, who recently left the family and has a gambling addiction. It's a long and circuitous path to the end of the story. The premise holds promise, but the execution is barely competent.-Catherine Ensley, Latah County Free Library District, Moscow, ID

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.70(w) x 7.20(h) x 0.60(d)
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Warren stands tall and proud, still gorgeous despite his forced swim. He nods. "I’d like to thank you all for being so gullible, making it so easy for me to steal your beads."

An empty beer can is tossed at Warren's head, and then another.

"Back in the pond," Jerod orders.

Meet the Author

Shelley Hrdlitschka is the author of several novels for teens. She lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia. When she's not writing, she can be found hiking, snowshoeing, practicing yoga, Zumba dancing or volunteering at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. For more information, visit

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