As a bit of a prankster in high school (ask me about the one time my friends and I created a giant diversion out of a couple of industrial rolls of plastic wrap in our school hallways), I appreciate a YA book that features characters who can pull of smart and sometimes shocking pranks and cons. The best pranks are creative and opportunistic, and it can be fun to read about characters who do what you’d never dare to try…just as long as they don’t get caught! Here are six contemporary realistic must-read YA books featuring prankster characters and protagonists!
Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi
Parvin is loud, opinionated, very excitable, and always down for a good prank. After spending a fantastic summer at the beach with a boy she’s been crushing on (and pulling a few pranks with), he asks her to be his girlfriend…only to dump her on their first day of high school orientation! Aghast and embarrassed, Parvin comes up with a plan to secure a date for homecoming and show her ex what he’s missing out on, but her plan mostly involves stifling who she is and abstaining from pranks. The only problem? Parvin can’t hide her true nature for very long.
Amelia Westlake Was Never Here by Erin Gough
Will and Harriet couldn’t be more different, but when their paths cross with a sexist teacher and they both land in detention, they form an unlikely alliance and decide to fight back. They start small at first, with a fake persona named Amelia Westlake and some satirical cartoons in the school newspaper. But when the cartoons catch on, Will and Harriet begin pulling off even more audacious pranks in the name of Amelia to shine a light on their school’s sexist policies and double standards. As they work hard to not get caught and their pranks get more and more epic, they also find themselves falling for each other.
Don’t Get Caught by Kurt Dinan
Everyone knows that the Chaos Club is notorious for pulling off epic pranks, and the last thing that Max expects is an invitation to join them. After all, the only experience he has is hours upon hours of heist movie viewings. But when this invite turns into a set up, Max and four other teens are blamed for the club’s latest act of vandalism. Max isn’t sure why they were framed, but one thing’s for certain: they aren’t going to stand for it. Let the epic prank war commence.
As If On Cue by Marisa Kanter
Natalie and Reid are rivals for their school’s limited funding, but they’re not above a bit of pranking in order to try and get what they want. Natalie wants to fund the school’s first student-led theater production, and Reid is desperate to keep that funding for the award-winning band. Their competitive nature and the pranks they pull to get what they want soon spin out of control, and their punishment? They have to write and direct a school musical, together. The school thinks it’s a great compromise, but for Natalie and Reid, it’s the perfect punishment…at least until they start to fall for each other.
The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu
For a book about pranks with a dark edge, pick up this tense novel about Remy and Elise, two best friends whose relationship seems perfect until the day that Remy’s boyfriend Jack is shot, and Elise is arrested for the crime. Remy is forced to reconsider the events of the past year, and the pranks that Elise often dragged her into. Was Elise just a harmless prankster with a knack for pulling off the most ingenious plots for revenge and retribution? Or did she have a tendency to go too far? Remy grapples with the truth as she tries to see a path forward.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
When Frankie begins her sophomore year at boarding school, she’s surprised and delighted to find that her days of being overlooked are over when she attracts the attention of handsome senior Matthew. When she learns that Matthew and his friends are a part of the school’s all male secret society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, and that they refuse Frankie entry because she’s a girl, Frankie fights back by coming up with a series of elaborate pranks and getting the Order to pull them off. But how far is too far before Frankie gets caught? And what will happen when everyone realizes that she’s the mastermind?
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