The prize: $10 million
The rules: Be the first to complete ten tasks assigned by the Benefactor. Do not ask questions. Do not tell anyone what you're doing. Do not fail.
The consequences: Unknown
Colin wants out of the Contest. Each task he's assigned by the Benefactor leaves him more convinced that he's part of something shady. Not to mention his every move is being tracked. But the prize money would help Colin's transgender sister, Danni, afford surgery. Can Colin find out what the Benefactor is really up to without ruining his chances to win the Contest?
"These are the first three novellas in the series The Contest; they need to be read in order. The mysterious Benefactor ropes in teens across a multicultural spectrum, each with a dire financial issue, by promising a prize of $10 million to the first one to complete a series of ten tasks, some less threatening than others..... Colin needs to raise money to pay for his sister's transgender surgery in Raise the Stakes. The Benefactor plays each teen against the others and uses their dreams of helping themselves and their families as blackmail. The books create a thrill-seeking sense of impending disaster, and readers will root for the characters as they begin to unite to discover who the Benefactor is and what he/she really intends to do with the information they steal. The series offers a perfect choice for adolescents who struggle to find easy-to-access plots with believable characters. The last two books in the series are Break the Code and Turn the Tables." (VOYA)
"This third in a series of five novellas that follow one storyline adds white teen Colin to the list of reluctant participants in the Contest. Colin's family has serious financial problems. Their hardware store appears to be failing, and Colin's courageous transgender sister needs the surgery that will make her fully female. Colin agrees to enter the contest run by the mysterious online 'Benefactor,' hoping to win $10 million by completing 10 tasks before the other contestants. Colin realizes quite soon that the Benefactor appears to be using the young, desperate contestants to pull off some kind of criminal scheme. He teams with the fourth contestant to outwit the Benefactor, but both find themselves caught up in events and propelled toward the final tasks before they can do so. Clearly, the fourth and fifth books in the series will advance and conclude the story, but the first three books leave readers hanging, ready for the next installment. A great choice for reluctant readers, this book, in presenting the transgender story, also delves into advocacy for equality. Colin tumbles to the scheme earliest of the first three contestants but knows he's trapped unless they all unite to fight back. Pages will turn right up to the cliffhanger." (Kirkus Reviews)