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Don't Get Caught

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10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. -Chaos Club

When Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him? After all, he's Mr. 2.5 GPA, Mr. No Social Life. He's Just Max. And his favorite heist movies have taught him this situation calls for Rule #4: Be suspicious. But it's also his one shot to leave Just Max in the dust...

Yeah, not so much. Max and four fellow students-who also received invites-are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security "catches" them. Definitely a setup. And this time, Max has had enough. It's time for Rule #7: Always get payback.

Let the prank war begin.

340 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 2016

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About the author

Kurt Dinan

15 books185 followers
Kurt Dinan is a high school English teacher living in Cincinnati. His debut novel, DON'T GET CAUGHT, was released April of 2016, and was a Junior Library Guild selection and winner of 2017's YALSA's Teens' Top Ten Award. His latest novel, THE SCAM LIST, will be released in August of 2020. He is represented by Kerry Sparks of LGR.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 546 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
July 1, 2018
to celebrate the release date, the author sent me a finished copy with one of the best inscriptions ever:

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it's been a long time since a gentleman compared me to his genitals. well, compared me favorably at least. buy this book TODAY.

this book is just so much fun.

full disclosure - an author friend of mine asked me to read this because he is himself friends with the author of this book. and i'm all overwhelmed here because i have been way too greedy with netgalley and accepting offered books but i said "okay, at least it looks like a quick read." and it was. but mostly because i just couldn't put it down. i started it on the train going home to help my dad move and i was pretty close to finishing it by the end of the ride and i was like "nooooooo - i need to finish it NOW!" i was willing to ride in an uncomfortable train seat for many more miles just to finish this book, which is a pretty strong recommendation.

i love heists. and super-involved pranks. and the fact that this comes out on april fools' day.

are we still having those hand-wringing sessions where we fret that boys aren't reading? because if we are, this book is the perfect solution for that problem.

i mean, yeah, we have john green, but let's be honest - the boys who are reading john green would be reading something else if john green didn't exist.

and we have the books that are specifically targeting reluctant young male readers, full of sports and trucks and essplosions, but they're not really great literature so much as brain candy to trick boys who'd rather be setting things on fire or throwing balls around into sitting still for a couple of hours.

but this is the happy medium - it's fast-paced and full of mischief, puke and cussin', but it's also not just literary junk food. there's definite appeal for both male and female, adult and teen readers alike. it's irresistibly charming and goodhearted without being goody-goody. you would totally be proud if this book was your kid.

it's described on the back cover as Ocean's 11 meets The Breakfast Club and i can't think of a better summary. it's about five high school students who attend a school in which the chaos club has been a long-running and secretive presence, traditionally performing a series of highly visible pranks throughout the school year to the delight of students and the (mostly) tolerant indulgence of the staff. no one has ever identified its members as the torch has been passed down year after year in an impressive legacy.

one night, max and four other students find themselves victims of a chaos club prank and they decide to band together and fight back and beat the club at its own game. the parallels to the cast of the breakfast club are pretty clear - a bunch of misfit kids who would never gravitate towards each other without a very specific situation throwing them together who nonetheless discover that their differences complement each other and that together, they can accomplish the most spectacular things.

using the breakfast club designations to match the characters:

ellie is the princess

adleta is the athlete

wheeler is the criminal

i guess malone is the ally sheedy "basket case" character, but she's updated to have her "other" status defined by a sexting scandal in which the entire school has seen her boobs.

and max is the anthony michael hall "brain," but more than that, he's the nonentity. i am going to boldly quote a longish passage in which his position in the high school hierarchy is made vividly apparent because i think it is perfectly written.

during a debate in their philosophy class concerning the question: Is every life valuable?, which is handled with the sensitivity and respect you'd expect from a class of teenagers, the following point is made by a dreadful girl named tami:

"Look, some people just aren't as important as others. Not everyone can be somebody. There have to be nobodies too. I'm not being mean. It's just statistics."

In the commotion that ensued, Tami decided to raise her position on the Bitch Power Rankings by saying, "Look, I don't mean nobody in a bad sense. Nobodies can be good people. They're just not very important. Like Dan over there. He's nice and people like him, but he's not special or anything."

I looked up from my notebook, wondering just who Tami was talking about because there isn't any Dan in our class.

Then I saw where she was pointing.

And everyone was looking my way too.

This is my life.

"My name's Max," I said.

Tami did a perfectly executed whatever shrug that made my face burn.

"We've been in classes together since kindergarten," I said.

Tami huffed and said, "Well, that just sort of proves my point, doesn't it? And don't get so defensive. I'm not saying you're a bad person. You're just kind of there. You're just Max, and there's nothing wrong with that."

determined to shed his just-max status and become not-max, and embracing the Write your name in the wet cement of the universe motto of their philosophy teacher watson, the five students, each with their own motivating factors, embark on their series of pranks, contributing and participating in the planning and the commission according to their individual strengths.

naturally, things get out of hand and max realizes

... this is what happens when you try to write your name in the wet cement of the universe. It hardens, trapping you in place, then begins downpouring shit on you.

it's so much fun, but it's not mindless fun. there are lessons aplenty about personal values and ethics, the difference between revenge and justice, the importance of remaining true to one's own code despite the appeal of being part of a group, and the ever-important heist rule #4 - be suspicious.

there are lots of fun little easter eggs - you might see some familiar names of authors scattered throughout, including john mantooth, who set me up with this book in the first place, and paul tremblay, who immortalized ME in his own novel. there's also a fun flip-book feature along the bottom of the pages involving cows. i love love love the mission-specific nicknames the members are given for each prank, the frequent references to awesome heist movies, and duhh - the many dick-jokes.

it ends, not on a cliffhanger, but in a perfect place to lead into a follow-up book, so i say sequel please!!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
April 1, 2016
3 1/2 stars. I'm not sure I'm the right audience for Don't Get Caught, but I can't deny that this book is pure entertainment.

I don't really like to stick gender labels on books, but I think Don't Get Caught would be a great book to get teenage boys reading. It's very silly, celebrates the underdogs and misfits, and is full of pranks, dirty jokes and hilarious misfortune. Some people are comparing it to John Green's work, but I personally like Dinan's style more. He isn't too concerned with being deep, philosophical, and imparting a message - the book is just a whole lot of fun!

Don't get me wrong, though - the author is a great writer, despite the light, funny subject matter. I especially like how he frames the narrative in a series of heist rules - Heist rule, #1, etc. The story is immediately engaging and the narrator's humorous self-deprecation drives the novel.

As for all the John Hughes comparisons, that I can definitely see. This story about an unlikely group of high school misfits coming together and waging a prank war against the school's mysterious Chaos Club has eighties teen movie written all over it. Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Pretty in Pink... Don't Get Caught fits in perfectly among them.
"Nobodies can be good people. They're just not very important. Like Dan over there. He's nice and people like him, but he's not special or anything."
I looked up from my notebook, wondering just who Tami was talking about because there isn't any Dan in our class.
Then I saw where she was pointing.
And everyone was looking my way too.
This is my life.
"My name's Max," I said.
Tami did a perfectly executed whatever shrug that made my face burn.
"We've been in classes together since kindergarten," I said.

The narrator is Max - a guy drowning in his own miserable averageness, until one night he receives an invite from his school's Chaos Club. Why would anyone single him out? It must be a prank! So, naturally, he goes anyway. And his life just gets crazier and crazier from that point on.

I think sometimes the jokes are milked a little too much, and the book lacks a lot of realism at points (the secret service? come on), but I didn't care that much. It was still an enjoyable read.

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Profile Image for Delee.
243 reviews1,135 followers
May 7, 2020

Every so often a book comes along, that as soon as you read the first few paragraphs- it gives you tingles in your belly....because it takes you back to a time in your youth when anything seemed possible. The world was new and exciting-when things went wrong it was okay...because with youth on your side, you could face whatever it threw at you as long as you had friends that were all going through some of the same things. It may take a while to find those soulmates...but once you did, everything clicked into place...Just for ONE... PERFECT...MOMENT... things made sense.

For me one of those perfect moments took place- watching The Breakfast Club surrounded by my soulmates in the movie theater. Yes! Someone got us! Kids from different circles- but bonding in spite of it.

The 80s were not pretty- but what we were given to make up for the scary hair, circus freak make-up... and the one hit wonders of music...was John Hughes. He made movies that understood what it was like to be a teen in that decade. Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink...etc. Hughes knew teen angst like no other adult from that time period. And I embraced him for that knowledge.

Kurt Dinan takes over from there. His book may be set in this day and age...but he gets me, and where I came from. I saw little bits and pieces of me all through this story- and I loved every minute of it!


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Rule #2- Be cool.

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Rule #3- If questioned, be evasive.

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Rule #4- Be suspicious.

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Rule #5- When in doubt, run.

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10:00- Tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. -Chaos Club.

When Max receives a mysterious invite from the Chaos Club- he is kind of suspicious. Why him? Max is not a kid who normally takes chances...and not someone who usually stands out among his peers, but he shows up just the same along with fellow students- Dave, Kate, Ellie, and Tim.

On the surface none of them seem to have anything in common- except they were all summoned- and all of them are curious to see what happens next.

DON'T GET CAUGHT- A YA novel that made me think someone one was following me around school grounds and taking notes- while I fought my way through my teenage years. I can't recommend it enough. As kids say these days- It has all the feelz.

They do still say that, right?

Thanks so much Kurt, for allowing me to have an advanced sneak peek at your work. I hope I did it justice. :)
Profile Image for Kurt Dinan.
Author 15 books185 followers
Want to read
October 22, 2015
Okay, so I totally didn't mean to click Want to Read on my own book! Now I can't change it back! I look like such a narcissist!
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,529 reviews978 followers
August 26, 2016

This is a terrible idea any way you look at it. It's stupid, irresponsible, and borderline suicidal. But I'm going anyway.

Max Cobb is tired of being a nobody, a mediocre student, a disappointment to his parents and to his teachers. When he finds in his locker an invitation to join the school's most prestigious secret club, responsible for pranks and vandalism for several decades, Max is decided to throw caution to the wind, and for once in his life act like one of his heist movie heroes: confident, daring, cool.

Of course, things go pear-shaped, and 16 y.o. Max gets caught, becoming once again the laughing stock of the whole school. But this time, he's not going to meekly accept his fate. This time he's going to strike back at those secret whiz kids who made fun of him. Because this time he is not alone: four other social outcasts have been snared in the same trap as him, and Max is about to put into practice the lessons he learned from "Ocean Eleven", "The Fast and the Furious," "Leverage"(Timothy Hutton) and all the other heist movies he watches compulsively. Operation Payback is on!

The debut novel of Kurt Dinan is a thinly disguised fanfic of "The Breakfast Club", but that's OK, because for me this movie is a perfectexample of how to tell a great highschool story, one that will appeal to both teenagers and older, nostalgic readers. An aspiring writer could do a lot worse than trying to capture some of the rebellious energy, the tongue-in-cheek humour and the fragile, tentative yet enduring friendships that form the most memorable memories of highschool. A look at the members of the newly minted "Watertower Five" criminal crew should be enough to illustrate the connection to the cult movie:

Maxwell Cobb - the brainy Geek ; codename "Bleeder"

Ellie Wick - The Princess ; codename "Crybaby"

Dave Wheeler - the low grade Rebel ; codename "Potatoes"

Kate Malone - the hot Goth Art Chick ; codename "Shadow"

Tim Adleta - the lacrosse Jock ; codename "Goon"

opposing them is Stranko - The Dick, their aggravating assistant principal

Here's something every student ever can relate to, describing Asheville High as another sort of standard movie setting::

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 to the bathroom. The school even has security cameras, which are positioned in all corners of the cafeteria.

Having made my observation about typecasting, I feel the need to underline that "Don't Get Caught" is not simply a re-telling of "The Breakfast Club". Kurt Dinan makes good use of the heist movie angle, both for comical effect and for adding a sense of danger, of mystery to the proceedings. Maxwell Cobb serves as a charming guide in his first person narration through the pitfalls of school life, with his wisecracks about 'Heist Rules' and his self-deprecating running commentary on troubles with girls and with identity issues. The rest of his crew also manage to step outside their traditional roles (occasionally): Ellie shows a devious side to her 'preacher's daughter' image, Kate gives back as good as she gets in the constant rude banter with Dave, Tim steps out from under his father's bullying shadow, Dave is ready to cast out his recalcitrant refusal to do homework. Eventually, they grow up into their new roles as the new criminals on the block, challenging the established "Chaos Club" dominance in the prank business. As in any good heist movie, expect the unexpected, the accidents, the double-dealing, the improvised solutions when carefully laid capers go wrong. And, since this novel is after all written by a parent, expect some moral lessons to be learned by the end of the journey. But it's not exactly the lesson a politically correct writer would choose:

Let's just say I believe the world is a much more interesting place with a little chaos thrown in.

I could find things to criticize if I really tried to find fault with the novel (some of the jokes are really cringeworthy, most of the capers are full of plot holes, the main characters are not truly original), but why should I? The important thing is that I had a great time reading about Cool Max and his Watertower Five Gang. I woud like to see a movie version, and even read a sequel or another teenage oriented book from Kurt Dinan. There's a lot of promise in this debut story.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,483 reviews7,781 followers
May 10, 2016
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Hi and welcome to Dissenting Opinion 101. I’ll be your host, Principal Vernon . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

If I’m promised a book that is going to be a mutant baby of this . . .

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And Ocean’s Eleven let’s just say my expectations are going to be extreeeeeemely high going in. For me, the only giffy inspiration that came from Ocean’s was the following . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

Don’t Get Caught is the story of a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal a bunch of kids who are set up by “The Chaos Club” thinking they are being recruited to join their ranks and be a part of pranking infamy, but instead discover they’ve been duped and left to take the fall for the club’s latest prank. Dubbing themselves “The Watertower 5,” the kids decide to take matters into their own hands and prank the pranksters. Things start off harmless enough . . .

But it doesn’t take long for the pranks to take a turn . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

And for the kids to go from fun-loving to a bunch of revenge-seeking entitled twats who were jackasses at best and criminals at worse and who all needed a good ass whooping from their parents or some quality time in juvie. I think I channeled my inner Ron 2.0 on this one because I really did not see the charm. Don’t bother trolling me, kiddos, I’m aware that I’m getting too old for this shit.

I had this on a “no thank you” list . . . . because of reasons and seriously debated giving it 1 Star after being far less than thrilled with the end product. However, it read quickly so it obviously wasn’t the absolute worst thing I’ve ever experienced. Also, Delee loved it and wrote an amazing review (so good that she maybe should have copyrighted it *wink*) and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.

*whispers* She gone? Okay good. Between you and me, this one was really . . .

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Profile Image for Erica.
1,342 reviews440 followers
April 1, 2016
April Fools!
You can buy this now!
No, like, for reals. It's available today, on April Fools Day, because perfect timing is perfect.

After reading karen's review of this book, I commented to her, This sounds like what I'd hoped for from The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life but didn't get so now I'll have to read this when it comes out in two million years and then all will be right with the world. and she was all, "You know, I thought of you while I read this because I think you'd like it and I know a guy..." (that's not actually what she said) and that guy was the author who is really friendly and trusting; he gave me an eARC of his very first-ever book which is sort of crazy because we all know how curmudgeonly I am only NOT THIS TIME!
That's my disclosure.

First, I'd like to say that fans of John Green and/or Rainbow Rowell will probably enjoy this story. I think this tale is more entertaining and better written than what I've read from those two authors but there are similarities mainly concerning off-center teens doing not-quite-normal things.

The "Breakfast Club" mentions you may have seen in other reviews? Yeah, they're spot-on. That's going to be a draw for us oldsters who watched that movie at the theater when it was first released. But that doesn't mean today's whippersnappers will think this an old fogey story, because it's not. It's all up-to-date and relevant to this goldarned modern age.
In fact, there were moments when I raised my eyebrow thinking Max's thoughts and responses were too obvious in showing he has a strong moral compass that is sometimes in direct opposition to his youth and hormones but I don't think that will be quite so obvious to the target audience. I mean, I've got a vast number of years full of experience under my old lady belt and hindsight gives me insight and this is why I'm not a parent. I can't even imagine the pretentious lectures I'd give my teens. The point being: Some of Max' actions seemed a little on the nose for a wretched, cynical crone of a reader such as myself but I don't think that will be the case with less ancient and get-of-my-lawning folk.

Regardless, this story is delightful. It's got a bit of mystery, some unrequited love, shenanigans and more shenanigans with some misadventure thrown in, good teachers and bad, and lots of friendship that builds slowly but becomes solid. Max' parents are not dysfunctional, there is no Horrible Trauma that befalls everyone, it's just kids getting through a bumpy patch, pushing boundaries, banding together and finding out what they can accomplish, and learning risk analysis. It all comes together well and is fast-paced without sacrificing depth. You know, much like "The Breakfast Club" only with smartphones and fandangled technology.

Thank you, karen, for making me aware of this tale that I didn't know I'd been seeking.
Thank you, author and author's publicist, for letting me read this ARC.
Profile Image for ❀Aimee❀ Just one more page....
443 reviews94 followers
February 14, 2016
I am a lover of all books with capers, cons, and heists. Now I have to add pranks to that list!

Who doesn't love a good prank...well...as long as you're not the target of said prank.

One day Max gets an invite to the Chaos Club - the school group that pulls epic pranks from year to year. When he arrives at the clandestine time and location, he finds a hodgepodge of other students with the same invitation. Soon it becomes evident that they were targeted for a prank.

Thus begins the plan to unmask the Chaos Club and new friendships. There are certainly some Breakfast Club themes and moments.

In some way or another, each of the characters is held hostage by their persona: the nobody, the jock, the screw-up class clown, the goody goody preacher's kid, and the artistic protester. The book even has a Richard Vernon-like character that is continually trying to catch the pranksters in the act.

Max becomes the glue that holds the small group together as they work to identify the members of the Chaos club. He is a long-time admirer of heist films and finds himself doing quite well as the mastermind of the crew. As plans go awry, they each find a way to grow and mature.

You'll find snarkery, "my balls" jokes, suspense, come-uppances, and some surprises hidden in plain sight. I definitely recommend this one!

Thank you Kurt for graciously helping me secure a copy through a Sourcebooks/Netgalley invite for an honest review.

Profile Image for Kathleen Glasgow.
Author 14 books6,877 followers
February 3, 2016
Wow. I don't think I've laughed out loud during a novel this much since I read "King Dork" by Frank Portman. Dinan's crafted a whip-smart, fast-paced screwball comedy about the pitfalls of high school: bullying, unrequited love, the social ladder, parents, teachers, and the school security guard. Max is indelible, a delight, with a pitch-perfect voice and I wish I'd known someone like him in high school. Dinan's ear for how teenagers speak is uncanny, but he's also got something else in spades: a heart. He never forgets that as breezy and uncaring as young people want to appear to be, they are still vulnerable to hurt and pain. He respects his characters enough to be attentive to this, which I loved.
Profile Image for Kali Wallace.
Author 26 books564 followers
January 27, 2016
I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK. I love it so much I have to write it in all-caps again: I LOVE THIS BOOK. It's funny and sweet and entertaining and SO MUCH FUN. Max is absolutely charming and hilarious as a narrator, and all the trouble he and his group of fellow outcast friends get into--and maybe don't always get out of--had me laughing from the first few pages all the way through the end. There are pranks and rivalries and good ideas and TERRIBLE ideas and friendships made and friendships broken and overbearing teachers and clueless parents and there are cows. IDK, man, just go with it.

Normally I hate it when books are described [THIS] meets [THAT] because it always feels like reaching, and what if somebody hates one of those things? But in this case the description of Ocean's 11 meets The Breakfast Club is completely accurate in the best possible way. At the risk of dating myself (and exposing my reading habits as those of a 12-year-old Canadian schoolboy in the '80s), DON'T GET CAUGHT reminds me (again, in the best way!) of a more mature cousin to Gordon Korman's old MacDonald Hall books, full of hijinks and hilarity, but also friendship and school troubles and the fundamental frustrations of being a teenager in an adult world.

I read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review, and my honest review is that I am counting down the days until I can have the finished copy of this book in hands so I can read it again.
Profile Image for Margot Harrison.
Author 5 books168 followers
December 2, 2015
This book cracked me up repeatedly.

I loved Max's voice — it's funny, fresh, frank, and probably other words starting with F that I can't think of right now. I love his heist-movie obsession and his snarky commentary ("If you're ever talking to an adult and need a fast explanation for something unexplainable, say you did it with an app").

And I love that he understands that there's a point where snarking and pranking get just plain mean. There are no PSAs in this book, but Max is a good guy. I really liked his gradual recognition that he shouldn't always take his cues from others, and his growing ability to stand up for himself as the story progresses.

And, of course, I loved both the intricacy of the pranks and the chaos they caused. That was just good, clean fun (well, MOSTLY clean; there's one prank that rivals the famous puking scene in Stand By Me for gross-out hilarity).

When I was in high school, I was way too busy studying and obsessing about college to ever even consider pulling pranks, let alone taking part in a prank war. So I'm glad I had Don't Get Caught to give me this wacked-out vicarious experience.

I think teen boys will really like this one, though not just them — the prank crew includes two smart and fearless girls, too. My personal favorite characters were Boyd and Mr. Watson — two adults who haven't lost their sense of fun.

I was very happy to read this book as part of an ARC tour.
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,102 reviews132 followers
November 21, 2015
There are really no words for how much I loved this book. It's not a surprise because it's been pitched as Ocean's 11 meets The Breakfast Club, two of my most favorite things.

It's not exactly a secret that I love heist movies. Give me a team of people and a target and I'm a happy person. In fact, sometimes I love thinking about what I'd target given some friends and an opportunity...but probably best not to keep discussing that, right?

Anyway. So Max and I would be really good friends, I bet, because he's the exact same way. Except Max puts his heist-mind to use planning pranks. (And fun fact: he's really good at it. I wouldn't want to be on his bad side.) I don't want to be more specific because the pranks are incredibly clever and fun, and I don't want to ruin any of the book's surprises for you. So just buy it and read it now, and then we'll discuss.

This works as a standalone but there's also good potential for a sequel. Please God, let there be a sequel. :) I would love to know what happens next! Either way, I'm in for whatever Kurt Dinan writes in the future.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Sara Grochowski.
1,142 reviews566 followers
January 15, 2016
Kurt Dinan's YA debut is an absolute riot! When Max Cobb receives a note inviting him to join the Chaos Club, a secretive prank group, his determination to become more than "Just Max" means he can't refuse. Cut to Max and four of his misfit classmates being caught painting the school water tower and landing themselves in detention. It quickly becomes clear that they've just been pranked. But what would "Not-Just-Max" do? Get even... and unmask the Chaos Club. Fans of fast-paced heist films and witty banter will love Don't Get Caught!
Profile Image for Jeff Zentner.
Author 9 books2,233 followers
November 30, 2015
I must admit, there was a part of me that was absolutely predisposed to like this book. Two of my all-time favorite movies are "Goonies" and "The Breakfast Club." I'm such a sucker for stories about ragtag groups of friends that come together in common purpose--bonus points if that common purpose is to get into trouble.

I'm overjoyed to report that this rollicking, hilarious, irreverent, bighearted, and charming book lives up to every bit of its wonderful premise.

I loved every leap-from-the-page, vividly drawn character and every line of crackling, witty dialogue. When I say that I laughed out loud at a book, what I usually mean is that I laughed inside. No. Not with this book. I laughed out loud.

This book is perfect for fans of Andrew Smith, Frank Portman, or Lance Rubin. But better still, this book is perfect for fans of no authors--those reluctant readers who think books are lame because they still haven't encountered the right book to show them what an incredibly joyous romp reading can be. So imagine how much fun you'll have if you don't even need to be converted to reading as a pastime.

Buy this book and thank me.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Julie Eshbaugh.
Author 4 books495 followers
March 3, 2016
I loved DON'T GET CAUGHT for so many reasons, first and foremost because it introduced me to Max Cobb. I knew I liked Max from the first page. His authentic voice drew me into this twisty, smart story and before I knew it I was completely sucked in. Max is on a mission, and I was going with him to the very end.
This book is pitched as The Breakfast Club meets Ocean's Eleven, and it actually lives up to that comparison. (I know--that's really saying something--but it's true!) Just like in both of those films, there's a crew of characters who are more partners-in-crime than friends, and each one of them is a well-crafted, vivid individual. The book is witty and smart with a pitch perfect tone. I was thrust right back into high school--the good, the bad, and the ugly. This book is funny but it goes beyond that into a realm where few books go--it's actually hilarious. DON'T GET CAUGHT is a great ride and I will be enthusiastically recommending it to all the teens (and adults!) I know. (I read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.)
Profile Image for Tine’s Reviews.
168 reviews6 followers
March 4, 2016
I thought I wouldn’t like this story because as you can see on my Goodreads reading progress, I started reading this on February 11 and I finished this on February 25 but I loved this book!

This story is fucking intense, bad-ass characters, fun, and crazy adventure. It’s the story about the 5 people who was invited by the Chaos Club that one night and then they were busted by the police. It’s like I’m watching the movie and that was good. Then, they talked to find out who is the Chaos Club and how many are they. Let the search on. So who’s that 5 characters? First, Max Cobb, he’s like a boring person and to think that his classmate calling him Just-Max cos he ain’t cool, let’s just say he’s sort of nerd. Second, Ellie Wick, her parents are working in the Church and she’s good at making stories that you will fall for it and sometimes you don’t know if it’s a truth or lies. Kat Malone, so she made a mistake for sending a nude picture and it was leaked. So people around the school making fun of her. Dave Wheeler, a techie and funny guy, you can’t complete a story about highschool stories without a person who is good in computer. And last but not the least, Tim Adleta who is a part of the lacrosse team and he’s a hot guy. Who doesn’t want to include him in the team? And combining them will make a best team. They’re group name is Water Tower Five.

Christine what’s so good about in this book?

1. It’s fucking relatable!! Especially the 5 of them, different personalities and skills and it’s the best team ever!! There’s no way you can’t relate on this because obviously it really happens in real life.

2. It’s funny and you can’t avoid not to laugh while reading because it’s really good. Their pranks oh my god I’m gonna die laughing at them and how worse it is.

3. You will love all the characters here and there’s no way that you don’t love and relate to the characters here. Because THAT’S A LIE!!

4. It’s really good that you should and need to read this one. Especially when you’re not in a high school or a student, it feels nostalgic and it feels good to reminisce the memories you did with your friends. The pranks, etc.

And one thing I realized on reading this. I know it feels weird because I’m here reviewing the book and there’s a REALIZATION 101, I’m not here to lecturing. *insert sarcasm here*.

You should embrace your quirks and be yourself. It’s good to really saw your skills and talents.
So that’s it. I do hope that Kurt Dinan will do a sequel to this book because I really feel like it should have a second part.
Profile Image for Robin Reul.
Author 2 books167 followers
December 27, 2015
All I can suggest when you sit down to read this book is that you put on your favorite comfy sweats, settle into your favorite chair with some snacks and get comfy because you are not going to want to stop until you reach the end. Dinan's razor sharp debut is witty and engaging and keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat to the very end with twists impossible to predict. Max Cobb is a hilarious, relatable underdog for whom the reader will be rooting every step of the way as he attempts to change his image as he seeks payback against the infamous Chaos Club for a prank gone awry. With all the humor and camaraderie of John Hughes gems like THE BREAKFAST CLUB and FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF mixed with the thrill ride of OCEAN'S ELEVEN, this hilarious, sparkling debut is sure to reel in teens and adults alike, and is absolutely begging for a sequel. (Get on it, Kurt!)
Profile Image for Bee.
817 reviews209 followers
February 9, 2017
Quite The Novel Idea ~ Words from the Clouds

That's it. This is going on my all-time-favorites list. But Bee, isn't this the second one you add to that list this year? Why yes it is, thank you for noticing! You might be wondering why it gets a spot on that list, and I'll tell you. I have much to say about this book and by the end of it, you'll hopefully know why I loved this so much.

Don't Get Caught is about Max. Max is Just Max, a nobody, nothing special at all. So when he gets a mysterious invite from the untraceble epic-prank-pulling Chaos Club, he can't help but go. Because why him? His favorite heist movies have always taught him a situation like this calls for Rule #4: Be Suspicious. But also because it might be a way to leave Just Max behind him. When Max and four fellow students are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security catches them. It was a set-up and this time, Max has had enough. It's time for Rule #7: Always Get Payback.

I had zero expectations going into this. None. Zilch. Nada. If I'm being very honest, I thought it would suck. I hoped it wouldn't because come on, that blurb is very tempting. That and it was pitched as The Breakfast Club meets Ocean's Eleven on Netgalley. That's just way too tempting. But then I started reading and my god am I happy I did. This book was all kinds of awesome. That pitch is spot on. It's exactly what this book is and it kept me reading until late into the night because I had so. much. fun. I laughed a whole lot and I even teared up a few times because I was so invested in Max's life. I love heist stories and this one was perfect. To me anyway.

Obviously the writing is great. I don't have to tell you that, do I? Good, because it is. There is so much humor in this book and I laughed so much! But there are also a few moments where things got unexpectedly emotional. And once again, it's the characters that made it as perfect as it is. Yes, we sort of get the five Breakfast Club types. The nobody, the goody goody preacher's kid, the jock, the class clown, the artistic protestor. But they were so much more than that! They grew so much throughout this book and were so well-developed. Even the side-characters were awesome. Especially one of their teachers, Mr. Watson, who's hilarious and makes hilariously awful puns.

I feel like the five main characters deserve a bit more attention so I'll go over them one by one. First we have the jock, Adleta. He's a lacrosse player (bonus points since I recently fell in love with Teen Wolf and lacrosse is a big thing in that show) and not really a jock, but he's the closest thing to a jock the group has. Hah. He's actually very loyal and cool. Yes, his dad pressuring him into playing the game may be cliche a tiny bit, but who cares? Next we have the class clown, Wheeler. He's not just a dumb joker. He's actually pretty smart and has a wide variety of awesome skills. By the end I did love him, even his dirty jokes. Then we have Malone, the "artistic protester". Yes she's amazingly skilled at arts, but she's also very sensitive and deliciously snarky. Up next is Ellie, the goody goody preacher's kid who's actually not that goody goody. I also liked her a whole lot, but I didn't really trust her? Because people aren't that nice and she was quite the actress. And last but certainly not least, there's Max, the nobody, our main character. He smart and funny and sweet and he grew the most throughout this book. I was rooting for him all the way from start to finish and he's now on my favorite characters list.

Don't Get Caught is the perfect read for anyone who loves heist stories. Fans of The Breakfast Club and/or Ocean's Eleven are likely to love this book. It's a ton of fun and there's potential for a sequel, which I'm so hoping for because I want to spend more time with this characters. Go read this. Seriously.
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,284 reviews460 followers
June 26, 2016
*I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review*

VIDEO REVIEW: https://youtu.be/ze-uuVpW8i0

Maxwell Cobb has always been known as "Just Max", boring and nothing special. So, when Max receives a note in his locker from The Chaos Club to meet them at the water tower he obviously accepts the offer. When he arrives, he is greeted by 4 other students, Kate Malone, Dave Wheeler, Tim Aldeta and Ellie Wick, who have also received invites. Thinking they are being offered positions into this notorious pranking club, they climb to the top of the water tower. It's then that they realize they've been set up and are now in some serious trouble when the school's security team arrives. Dubbing themselves "The Water Tower 5", they decide to take matters into their own hands and start a prank war to ultimately bring The Chaos Club to end, once and for all.

This book was such a great debut novel! It was full of inappropriate humour and stupid one line jokes, which is RIGHT up my ally because let's be serious, I am so immature it's ridiculous... I think it's the perfect book to give to teenage boys. The book is described as Breakfast Club meets Ocean 11 and I couldn't agree more. It was cute and funny but also exciting to read about the characters adventures together. I loved Max as a main character and I loved how snarky he was, but I like how he was also a genuinely good human being. I loved the witty banter each of the characters had amongst one another as well, they were all funny in their own way. I actually found myself laughing out loud within the first couple of pages of the book. I think each character was relatable in their own way and I felt a connection with each of them. Each character grew and developed in their own right through out the story and I just thought it was so well done! I thought the writing was really well done and I really enjoyed the entire story. I usually find myself getting bored half way through a book, but with this one, it was engaging the whole way through. It was very fast paced and funny to read! The ending was easily called if you paid attention to a certain part of the book, but it was still enjoyable none the less and could easily be over looked if you weren't paying close attention. Also, I just want to say that the cows doing flips in the corner of the book made me so happy :3 (Yes I am a child, okay..)

Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...
Profile Image for Elaine.
3,491 reviews110 followers
March 29, 2016
Rating 4.5/5
At Asheville High School there’s a special secret Club - the Chaos Club. It has been pulling pranks at the school for more than thirty years but no one seems to know just who is behind it. When Maxwell Cobb, Ellie Wick, Dave Wheeler, Kate Malone and Tim Adleta all receive invitation to go to the Club but to tell no one, that’s exactly what they do, only finding out the others have been invited when they reach the rendezvous. They’re not the ones you’d automatically assume would be members of such a group so they are suspicious about what’s happening and the motivation of the people inviting them…. When they discover it really all was a set up they decide to join forces and discover just who is in the Chaos Club and to reveal their identities to stop them playing pranks like this again.

This is a laugh out loud, prank filled story as the disparate group of teens start to work together to a common goal. As they use their skills to help each other, they all become more confident and resilient, more prepared to speak up for themselves and others. As they endeavour to payback the Chaos Club, playing pranks of their own, get ready for surprises, pranks and laughs galore. It is a great read and the twists at the end are so shocking! Sorry, not going to tell any further spoilers here, you’ll just have to read it yourself to find out!

This is a well written, riveting teen adventure with so many twists and turns it makes highly entertaining reading for those who are older, too. It poses some thought provoking questions regarding the moral and ethical implications of pranks, their purported purposes and effects on their victims which stay with the reader long after finishing the story. This is an incredible debut novel and I can’t wait to read more from this author in future - and I do hope that includes a sequel to this novel!

Thanks to the publishers for inviting me read an ARC of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Miranda.
456 reviews94 followers
January 29, 2016
I received a copy via netgalley.

Anyone ever been apart of senior pranks? Ok take that and times it too 100x it's an all out school year war. This books growth of all the character's throughout is incredible. It's started off a bit rocky since all of them seemed to be these two dimensional "nobodies" conveniently set up and when I sat back and pictured the five of them I immediately thought why not, I would have them all as my heist partners it makes total sense different backgrounds, specialities, and get this who in their right mind would link them as being friends? It's got a bit of a breakfast club vibe in that sense. I just loved how by the end you noticed these massive differences but good ones for them all. I won't spoil the ending but it pulled a blinder on me. Total left field. I have a feeling I'll have that on my mine for a few days. It's got clear standalone feels to it but after the ending I kinda hope he pushes another out I want to find out how the next year lines up for the prank off. Light hearted, fasted paced, exciting and thrilling. 5 stars.
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 18 books2,497 followers
July 25, 2016
This was really fun, and I know I really liked it because my ARC had a ton of printing errors (like, full-on missing pages) and not only did I plow through anyway even though I rarely have compunction about DNFing, but my first thought afterward was "I'm gonna buy a copy now so I can see what I missed."

If you love Breakfast Club-esque books, absolutely add this one to your list. The characters are great, the pranks are original, and the voice is spot-on.
Profile Image for Brooks Benjamin.
Author 1 book154 followers
February 29, 2016
There are certain types of movies that will always get an insta-watch from me.

For example, heists.

I love how screenwriters come up with these intricate plans of attack that have to be carried out by a select group of friends, each with their own strengths. These stories are always full of villains and red herrings, twists and turns, botches and foils, love and betrayal. It's storytelling at its absolute action-packed peak.

So when I heard this book pitched as The Breakfast Club meets Oceans Eleven, I jumped on the chance to read it. I mean, come on. Incredible heist + unlikely friends? How could than not = literary perfection?

Plus those cows on the cover.

Cows are always a good sign, right?

Knowing my excitement for this book was at an eleven already, I dove in with a smidge of reluctance just to prepare myself for a potential letdown. But by the first chapter, that wall had cracked and crumbled as if David Hasselhoff himself were on top belting out a song in a light-up jacket. This book had me. It owned me. I belonged to it. There was no way I was going to put it down because there was no way it could get any better.

Except it did.

Chapter one gives us Max and four of his classmates, Wheeler, Ellie, Malone, and Adleta, getting framed for a pretty spectacular mega-prank and becoming the laughing stock of their school. But revenge is sweet and this group's got a serious hankering for some sugary payback (sorry...in my head that sounded really cool...). So Max and the others band together and plan a series of pranks to weed out the real criminals, the Chaos Club. Dinan infuses a brilliant layer of humor into his story and weaves in subtle and oftentimes surprising character complexities that keep Don't Get Caught from ever dipping its toes into the waters of stereotypes and tropes. Max becomes our guide through the world of high jinks, larks, and capers, utilizing his list of rules he's created from all of the heist movies he's watched. We get to watch friendships form, loves blossom, secrets revealed. The characters are wonderfully flawed, and even though you cheer them on, you begin to wonder (as they do) if they've begun to cross that line from hero to villain. The end result from all of this is a book absolutely brimming with humor, honesty, and heart.

And heists.

So. Much. Heisting.

The best part, though, is that even though the action begins early, Dinan gives this story time to breathe. He gives the readers time to breathe. We have time to think and wonder. And most importantly, we have time to appreciate. Which is a good thing, too. Because this book is packed with stuff you're going to fall in love with.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lara.
265 reviews
January 18, 2016
Sixteen-year old Max is obsessed with heist movies, and so when he is given the opportunity to be a part of a prank pulled off by the notorious Chaos Club, he throws caution to the wind and accepts the challenge. He’s not going to be known as “Just-Max” anymore; “Not-Max” embraces danger, does cool things, and sneaks out of his house in the middle of the night to be…caught, red-handed, in the biggest set-up known to man. Ouch. Luckily, Max lives by a set of heist movie rules, and #7 is “Always get payback.” Max and the four unlucky others—who henceforth become known as the Water Tower 5—begin to plot their revenge. The plan? Take down the Chaos Club for good.

From the ultra cool colophon to the cows flipping upside down on the bottom edge of the pages, this book had me hooked from the outset. It has enough self-deprecating humor, hilarious pranks, students pulling the wool over teachers’ eyes, and underdogs turning the tables to satisfy any reader. While it will appeal to both genders, certain pranks have “teenage boys” written all over them (Operation Schlonger comes to mind). This book fills a void for anyone who doesn’t want to read angsty YA novels or yet another dystopian/vampire/werewolf/angel/zombie book. There were a few unexpected plot twists at the end that were very surprising, and I was pleased to extrapolate from the last page that there will be a second book. (There had better be a second book!) Highly recommended for grades 8-12.
Profile Image for Mon.
625 reviews17 followers
April 13, 2016
I received a copy of this book for free through NetGalley

10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. -Chaos Club

Books like this always make me feel like nothing cool ever happened in my high school.

This was a riot - laugh out loud and full of fun. They got it right when they said that this was The Breakfast Club meets Ocean's Eleven because it includes all your favourite high school tropes with an epic prank war that makes you want to rewatch all those great heist movies.

When Max and 4 of his classmates are setup by the Chaos Club on top of the water tower, the 5 get together to bring down the Chaos Club by creating an epic revenge plot.

The writing in this is brilliant and I really liked that you only got to know enough about each character to move the story along and justify their actions. The Water Tower 5 were funny and smart representations of different high school archetypes. There were some cool twists throughout the book that kept you entertained right until the end.
Profile Image for Jenny Manzer.
Author 3 books60 followers
December 27, 2015
Heist Rule #9: Know your enemy. Extending the heist rule slightly, let's say that writers should know their readers, and Kurt Dinan does in spades. I think DON'T GET CAUGHT is the lively, funny, irreverent story many teens have been waiting for. This is definitely one to recommend to teens who appreciate humour and might not otherwise pick up a book. The well-crafted plot keeps us on our toes and the humour keeps us laughing. Underlying the elaborate, creative (and often hilariously rude) pranks, main character "Just Max" Cobb faces problems that many young readers will relate to: When should you step outside expectations to be yourself, and how far should you go for acceptance? DON'T GET CAUGHT is one fun ride and I'm looking forward to Dinan's next operative. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Ixxati.
282 reviews15 followers
July 10, 2020
I enjoyed reading Don't Get Caught. It was exciting and I liked they way they think lol Revenge prank goshh I wish I was this brave during my teenage years 😂 Btw the twist at the end asdfghjkl I kind of expect that but at the same time I didn't phewwww
Profile Image for Kathy MacMillan.
Author 31 books438 followers
December 22, 2015
I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Most of the time, when a book is touted as ____ meets ____, I am disappointed at the result. Usually the story only holds the vaguest of resemblances to the well-known movies or books it's being compared to. In this case, however, the tagline of "Ocean's Eleven meets The Breakfast Club" is dead-on. Dinan's high school caper novel delivers all the intricate fun of Danny Ocean's schemes and all the self-revelatory teenage relationships of the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal, with all the heart of both.

Max doesn't intend to turn the school on its ear when he and four other random students are framed for painting a lewd message on the school's water tower. But he and his new crew quickly determine that the Chaos Club - a long-standing and secretive group of pranksters - is behind it, and they use everything they've learned from a million heist movies to plot their revenge. Max wrestles with just who he wants to be - Just-Max, the guy who coasts along and stays out of trouble? Or Not-Max, the guy who shakes things up? Along the way, he has to reevaluate everything he knows about his friends, his family, and himself. All while pulling some pretty epic pranks.
Profile Image for ~Madison.
456 reviews38 followers
January 16, 2023
i ignored this book on my shelf for years because red books just turn me off reading them.. idk why. Also minimalist book covers have the same effect so this book just looked ugly to me and YES i do judge a book by its cover.
But my history with Ugly Book Covers Are Written Masterpieces has yet again shown up and provided me with a solid 4 star read ! !

i didn't like everything and i usually would say this was an average 3 star book but it was so damn entertaining and fun that i can't not rate it 4 stars like WOAH
1 review1 follower
October 3, 2016
A Hilarious Mashup of Pranks and Suspense

You can’t turn down an invitation from the Chaos Club, an anonymous, prank-pulling club, because you know that you will face dire consequences if you do. Having been around for 40 years, the Chaos Club’s history includes training birds to poop on someone’s head, filling an entire office with water balloons, and other nefarious pranks. So when they invite Max Cobb and four others to climb a water tower at night, everyone agrees. But while climbing the water tower, the Chaos Club turns them in. Now Max and the others “...want the Chaos Club dead” (Dinan, 67), and so the prank war begins.

Through the eyes of Max in Kurt Dinan’s Don’t Get Caught, we learn that he feels socially insecure about himself. Max thinks of himself as being an “average”, cautious, high schooler. Not liking who he is, he strives to change into someone who’s willing to step out of their comfort zone and take risks. Now, after the water tower incident, Max finds himself thrown into a situation where he can start his social life over and be whoever he wants. With the other people invited to the Water Tower: Ellie, Malone, Wheeler, and Adleta, they figure out how to tackle their goal of revealing the Chaos Club and how to get their revenge. Through them, we learn the importance of trust and teamwork. The five of them learn that they are stronger if they work as a team, and to rely on one another in order to successfully carry out their pranks. They put their brains together and become the “Water Tower 5”. But Max soon realizes that becoming someone else isn’t as simple as he initially thought, and he starts to struggle to find out who he really wants to become.

The masterminds behind the pranks live in a present day, fictional town. However, the pranks themselves take place at their local high school. Through the mysterious group, the Chaos Club, Kurt Dinan teaches us to look deeper into people's personality, for not everyone is how they may seem on the outside. Don’t Get Caught is a story full of hilarious pranks and suspense, making you fall off your chair with laughter one moment, and cling on to it the next. With clever planning, persistence, and willingness to take risks, the “Water Tower 5” are ready to take revenge. But when have things been taken too far? What is the true identity of the Chaos Club, and why are they targeting the “Water Tower 5”?

Dinan, Kurt. Don't Get Caught. 1st ed. Naperville, Il: Sourcebooks, Inc, 2016. Print.
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