Immoral Code

Immoral Code

by Lillian Clark

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Ocean's 8 meets The Breakfast Club in this fast-paced, multi-perspective story about five teens determined to hack into one billionaire absentee father's company to steal tuition money.

For Nari, aka Narioka Diane, aka hacker digital alter ego "d0l0s," it's college and then a career at "one of the big ones," like Google or Apple. Keagan, her sweet, sensitive boyfriend, is happy to follow her wherever she may lead. Reese is an ace/aro visual artist with plans to travel the world. Santiago is off to Stanford on a diving scholarship, with very real Olympic hopes. And Bellamy? Physics genius Bellamy is admitted to MIT--but the student loan she'd been counting on is denied when it turns out her estranged father--one Robert Foster--is loaded.
  Nari isn't about to let her friend's dreams be squashed by a deadbeat billionaire, so she hatches a plan to steal just enough from Foster to allow Bellamy to achieve her goals. Fast-paced and banter-filled, Lillian Clark's debut is a hilarious and thought-provoking Robin Hood story for the 21st century.

"This well-paced debut follows exceptionally smart, thoughtful, and loyal friends navigating the morally ambiguous areas of life."--Kirkus

"A smart and fast-paced debut that will intrigue heist aficionados and modern-minded Robin Hoods."--Booklist

"Gleefully engrossing."--The Bulletin

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525580485
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 02/19/2019
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 614,906
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Lillian Clark, a graduate of the University of Wyoming, grew up riding horses, climbing trees, hiking, and going on grand imaginary adventures in the small-town West. She's worked as a lifeguard, a camp counselor, and a Zamboni driver, but found her eternal love working as a bookseller at an independent bookstore in what was once a brothel in historic downtown Laramie, WY. Now living with her husband, son, and two giant dogs in the Teton Valley of Idaho, she spends her snowy winters and sunny summers reading almost anything and writing books for teens. Learn more about Lillian online at and on Twitter at @LillianJClark.

Read an Excerpt

Saturday, February 16, 11:32 a.m.
Reese and I sat on the top bleacher against the back wall to watch the season’s last home swim meet. The announcer called the first heat of the first event, and the medley relay teams began to assemble. Keagan waved to me from his towel-and-snack nest on the far side of the pool deck. I stood to give him a proper Swim Fast Salute (elbow up and arm bent; fingers kissed, then flung wide). He pulled on his swim cap and wandered over to the rest of his heat-three relay team. The butterflyer helicoptered his arms. The freestyler held his above his head, stretching onto his toes, elongating his body. Keag tucked stray pieces of his straw-blond hair under the edges of his cap.
The first-heat backstrokers jumped into the water, fixed goggles one last time, adjusted hands on block pegs, foot stances on the wall. The buzzer chirped once and they readied, pulling up tight, waiting for the start. Twice, and they dove. Arms flung, backs arched, legs pushing away from the wall.
I sat down. “It’s kind of pretty, you know?”
Reese, hunched over her work--i.e., a blank white Adidas sneaker she was carefully making less blank for her Etsy store--made a sound in her throat. “Teenage-boy junk crammed into tiny Speedos?”
“No. That’s less ‘pretty’ and more . . . what do you call a perpetual almost-wince?”
Reese pushed her hair (half shaved and electric blue with dyed-black roots) over one shoulder, then blew on the fresh lines of ink on the less-blank sneaker. “Pre-wince?”
“Dear all that is holy, don’t let that thin patch of spandex slip?”
“Yeah, that one.” The swimmers completed their first length, one after another except for the two slowest ones in the outside lanes, and flip-turned on the opposite wall. The breaststrokers mounted the blocks at the other end. “But also no. I meant the way they all take off like that at once. Synchronized.”
“Except for the ones that back flop.”
Shouts echoed off the water, the concrete walls, the tile floor, as the backstrokers touched the wall and the breaststrokers dove into the water.
“Butterfly is pretty,” Reese said. She stared down at the pool, half-finished sneaker in her hand. This one was covered in a collage of tiny cartoon characters, all a little ugly-cute. Ugly-cute being Reese’s specialty.
“Or looks like drowning,” I said.
“Right. No middle ground with that one.”
Santiago joined Keagan on the deck, where they alternated cheering on their teammates and laughing about something with the other accumulated relay team members. San, being the team’s fastest butterflyer, wouldn’t swim till the last heat half an eternity from now, but he stood with Keag and the other guys anyway. “Santiago looks pretty doing fly,” I said.
“Yes, well, San looks pretty doing everything. He is a pretty human.”
This was true. Apart from his generally pleasing aesthetic, Santiago’s one of those people who are good at basically everything physical. Like swimming the fly and running cross-country and playing basketball, if he were to, in fact, play basketball. Even walking. He’s a very good walker, smooth, graceful, which is totally not a talent worth remarking upon, but hey. It’s the diving thing. While San swims the fly beautifully and fast, as in he’s top three in the state, he’s also a diver. First and foremost a diver. As in, top three not just in the state but in the country. As in, fosters Olympic dreams that are not in the least bit pipe-like despite what his parents think.
I fidgeted on the metal bleacher. Fleece-lined leggings were proving a poor choice for swim-meet attire. In retrospect, obviously. Even if it was mid-February. The butterflyers mounted their blocks. “You should tell Bellamy that.”
“I’m pretty sure Bells is aware.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.”
Reese looked up. “Yes, you do. Like how you know that . . .” She stared me down, waiting for me to finish her prompt.
I rolled my eyes. “That it’s none of my business.” Someday Reese’s steely gaze shall be a thing of legends. Legends! “Even though they would be so freaking cute together and Santiago already--”
“Okay! Fine.” I fluttered my hands into the balmy chlorine air. “Farewell, brilliant intentions! You’re fate’s problem now.”
“Good.” Reese bent her head back to her work in progress, adding a pair of googly, unmatched eyes to a tiny, roundish something-or-other with a yawning mouth and single tooth.
The freestylers followed the butterflyers, the faster teams nearly lapping the slowest. One of the doors to the lobby opened and I turned, looking for Bellamy, but instead of my favorite aspiring astronaut it was a herd of freshmen girls followed by Keagan’s mom wearing a T-shirt with the quote “If I only have one day left to live, I hope to spend it at a high school swim meet, because those things last FOREVER,” printed over a watermark of our school logo. Preach, Autumn Lotus Breeze (not her real name, but you get the idea). I waved at her, smiling my biggest I-love-your-son-like-mad smile. She waved back, then got waylaid by another swim parent in the third row. No sign of Brent, Keagan’s dad. Which meant he was probably in his pottery studio or off selling his wares, leaving Paisley Star (yes, that’s her real name) to represent.
I watched the second heat of the relay and the concurrent filling up of Reese’s white sneaker to the beat of the pool drains gurgling, the water splashing, the crowd cheering, until Bellamy clomped up the bleachers and sat beside me.
Yes, clomped. Like a Clydesdale? you say. Isn’t that a bit, you know, rude, Narioka? This is our first impression of dear Bellamy Bishop! Your oldest and bestest friend! Don’t you want her portrayed in a more, dare we say, attractive light? To which I reply, Pish-posh. And balderdash! Bellamy is beautiful and she clomps. Just as Reese is beautiful and she wisps. And I am beautiful (and terrifying, like a Siren, luring the unsuspecting to their demise) and I pirouette or flit or even storm.
Bellamy clomped up the bleachers in her heavy-soled shoes and sat beside me in her jeans and too-big Goodwill T-shirt, today’s being adorned with a faded picture of the Backstreet Boys worn without intent and utterly unironically. (“Clothes are for warmth and adherence to social constructs concerning the inappropriateness of nakedness, Nari.” Actual Bellamy quote, btw.) Her brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail.

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Immoral Code 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
gtrelease 6 months ago
Fast-paced and thrilling, Immoral Code is the kind of book that you can’t stop reading once you start. The story is told from the point of view of five different characters, all high school seniors a few months away from going to college. When one of them is denied access to the college of her dreams because of her estranged father, the plot kicks into gear and the kids decide to take matters into their own hands to make things right. It’s a heist story, yes, but also a story about smart, interesting teens and their relationships. The author sets up a complex examination of the morality at stake when these teens will do anything for their friends. The author’s writing is fresh and immediate, and her plotting between these five narrators makes the story intricate and compelling. I loved it!
Anonymous 7 months ago
I read the Advance Reader's copy of this book, and I was blown away. The Premise: Five very close friends, in their senior year, plan to hack into the bank accounts of a mega-wealthy, .01 percenter entrepreneur to skim off enough petty cash to pay the $50,000 yearly tuition of brilliant Bellamy, who has been accepted at MIT to study physics. The mega-wealthy entrepreneur, as it happens, is Bellamy's deadbeat dad. The caper revolves around figuring out the logistics of how to do the skim without getting caught--and each of the crew has his or her own role to play. The plot is thick and delicious, but even more fun is the sharp, totally authentic dialogue between the characters; their observations about life, sex, politics, social justice, and art; and following their growth journeys over the course of the novel. Clark is a master of witty repartee, odd teenager games, Game of Thrones trivia, and cryptic coder jargon. She gets so deep into these characters' heads you'll feel like you know and love them as much as they know and love each other. This is, at heart, a book about big dreams, and the possible costs of making big dreams come true. I really loved it. Highly recommended.
Caroldaz 7 months ago
Hilarious, yet heartwarming story of five friends. Bellamy does not qualify for a student loan because her father is filthy rich. So her friends decide they will hijack his bank account for her. There are individual POV’s of the five friends which I usually find confusing, but not in this case. It is beautifully done!
TheLiteraryPhoenix 7 months ago
While I had some fundamental issues with this book, I think the YA world in may just love it. Immoral Code tells the story of five teens, best friends since forever, taking action against injustice.  Bellany is brilliant and could go full-ride to MIT... except that her umber rich father still shows up on her FAFSA and she can get an ounce of support.  Even though her father abandoned her before she was born.  When Bellamy tries to call him, he hangs up on her.  So that's it.  No MIT. Except her friend Narioka, hacker extraordinaire, has a different idea.  What if they just... stole it?  And so starts the heist! Where heist films like Ocean's Eleven do really well is that all the players are bringing something to the table, and they all have a good reasons for being there.  In building a teen-based heist, especially one that requires a road trip and where they're all friends and not professionals, Lillian Clark set herself up with some challenges.  First of all, there is a single clear mastermind.  With Nari's age, it stands reason that it requires a little suspension of disbelief.  Nari, more or less, plans this entire heist by herself.  There's an early section where she's connecting with other hackers, but in the meat and potatoes of the story, that doesn't seem to be happening. In fact, a lot of the planning doesn't make it to the page.  I really would have liked to see the planning before two days before the heist, but I also feel like Lillian Clark needed to use the time developing the characters and their relationships. It took me a while to get into the characters.  Firstly, this book is told with five first person POVs.  I'm not crazy about multiple first person POVs; I feel like it is difficult to differentiate the characters.  Even at the end of the novel, I'd occasionally have to flip back to the start of the chapter to remind myself who was speaking.  Their individual voices weren't different enough, but fortunately, I got to know each character well enough through someone else's voice.  The characters aren't underdeveloped, they're just difficult to connect with.  That said, you know, I'm almost thirty... a sixteen year old may find these characters incredibly relatable all the time and I think that's fantastic. Oh, and honestly?  All the asides in parentheses and second-guessing rambling drove me crazy.  I understand why it's there, but I don't feel like it added anything. All this negativity aside, I did end up enjoying Immoral Code.  I really thought I would hate it at the beginning.  I was getting frustrated with some perceived inconsistencies and the characters themselves.  I still don't like the beginning, but this really picks up in the middle and it gets better from there.  There's a scene with Reese during the heist that was absolutely fantastic, filled with life and passion.  There were also a handful of scenes just before the heist where Keagan questioned the morality of it, and I think that contact was so important.  While I wasn't crazy about how things turned out with that, I appreciate that the argument was made.  It was so, so necessary. The ending seemed way too easy for me, but the journey was interesting.  I think Immoral Code will appeal to any reader who enjoys YA and heist stories.  Don't expect an epic fantasy situation, a la Six of Crows or The Gilded Wolves, but it's a great contemporary companion to the heist subgenre.
Kimberly_Gabriel 7 months ago
This book had everything I want in a good story—strong characterization, witty dialogue, and a fast-paced, twisty plot—AND it involved a heist. The story revolves around 5 friends and was told from each of their POVs. Clark did a brilliant job of keeping each character and voice distinct and fresh. I found myself drawn to each of them as they work together to pull off a heist that could ruin their promising futures in order to protect one of their own. Through everything they try to accomplish and discover about themselves, their friendships and their loyalty to one another remained their priority. I miss these characters and their banter already!! Clark is an author to watch. I loved this book and highly recommend it.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Hilarious characters, heart-warming friendship. What more could you want in a book? It is so easy to get immersed in the lives of these characters, who are all so delightfully hilarious and loyal to each other. The plot is great, but the character development is even better. I'm looking forward to Clark's next book already!
KaileyReadsYA 7 months ago
Original and strong writing. Good representation from all that I can tell. I really thought this was so cute and sweet and, most of all, good. SUCH a dynamic novel. 4.5/5 stars.
bayy245 7 months ago
I am so disappointed that I didn't like this one. This sounds right up my alley and definitely fits in with my reading trends over the last few months. I think the plot of the novel is fantastic and unique, however, the execution just didn't do it for me. The 5 POVs were way too much for me. I also didn't like how jarring it was to go from one to another. Large amounts of time passed between one character's point of view to another's and it was really hard to keep the timeline straight. I also didn't like the voice or attitude of two of our five MCs so that made everything else really difficult. I couldn't tell the difference between the characters' POVs sometimes either, which didn't mesh well with the confusing timeline. I think the characterization was the major problem for me. Besides what's listed above, I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. I needed to fall in love with each of these characters and sadly I didn't fall in love with any of them. It's really hard to make five distinct voices while also making the reader invested in them. I think this would've been more successful with fewer POVs. I still loved the plot and idea, I just wish it was executed better. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*
tpolen 7 months ago
Although I'm far from a computer genius (it's a miracle I've managed my blog for so long), hacking stories fascinate me. Nothing is private anymore, and a good hacker can get nearly any information they desire. And that's downright scary. These five friends are fiercely loyal and supportive of each other, and it's understandable that they want to help Bellamy. Suspension of disbelief isn't anything new to me - plenty of stories require it. But in this case, a phone call to MIT's admissions office seems like a logical first step before planning a heist of this magnitude - especially considering the numerous laws broken by these teens and the potential consequences of their actions. Yes, Bellamy's dad is a total deadbeat for not having any contact with her, but it would have been more believable if all other possibilities had been exhausted. Some of the interactions and dialogue between this group are amusing, and I especially enjoyed Bellamy's rational and literal explanations of things. Even though the dialogue is entertaining at times, there's a tremendous amount of it among this group that does nothing to advance the plot, and other than Bellamy, I had trouble distinguishing the voices of each character. Writing from five POVs is admirable and allows the reader more insight into the characters, but I referred back to the chapter header numerous times to see who was speaking. Looking at other reviews, I'm in the minority on this one. If you enjoy a good heist story (and who doesn't?), strong friendship bonds, witty banter, and are able to suspend disbelief, this may be the book for you. In my case, I was hoping the plot would be heavier on the heist action. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.