Sunday, March 24, 2013

TBR Challenge 2013: Heist Society by Ally Carter

Oups, I'm once again late for the TBR challenge ^_^; After how many times does it become a habit? LOL.  This time though it's not because I'm off my game reviewing. I think in the past couple of weeks, I've been very good at getting back into a reviewing rhythm... It's simply that I forgot that I read something that qualified  for the challenge!! I know, very sad ^_^; When I read Wendy's reminder last week, I was "Crap, I won't have time to read something!" and it's only on Wednesday, while I was planning to review Double Crossed and Heist Society that I realized Heist Society was actually a TBR read! Yay! However, the past couple of days have been quite busy, so it's only now that I have to time to write the review. I think "Better late than never" might become my  new motto LOL.

All right, let's talk about Heist Society. This book has been in my TBR pile for almost three years. I got it when I attended the RT Convention 2010 in Columbus. One of the panels I went to was the Young Adult Authors Chat. Back then, I didn't read as much YA, but I went because one of my favorite authors, Kelley Armstrong, was there. Ms Carter was one of the other authors present and I really enjoyed her answers. As a result, I wanted to give her a try­. During the chat, she spoke of her new series, Heist Society, and I thought I'd pick that one up because I really like cat burglar characters and plots. I even got an autographed copy! However, often at those conventions/conferences, you come home with so many books that you're a bit overwhelmed and a lot of them end in the TBR pile... Finally, I picked up Heist Society back in February after reading Double Crossed because I really enjoyed the novella. I was already familiar with the Gallagher Girls series and now, it was time to finally check out Heist Society :)

And here are my thoughts on the book... enjoy!

Heist Society by Ally Carter
published by Hyperion in February 2010
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.
Genre: YA, contemporary, cat burglar
Series: Heist Society, Book #1

The Story: The blurb is pretty accurate, but as usual, I like to give my own spin :) So Katarina Bishop comes from a family of burglars and she's been taught the trade. However, she wanted to live a normal life and walked away from the family business, i.e. her family, and conned her way into a prestigious boarding school. However, normal life didn't last long for Kat because W.W. Hale V, the heir to a prestigious and rich family, a born grifter and one of Kat's past associates, got her kicked out of boarding school. Turns out a very powerful mobster was robbed of his priceless art collection - 5 paintings that were lost during World War II - and he believes that Kat's father did it. Even after Kat has confirmed her father didn't do it - he was busy pulling another job - the mobster won't believe Kat... and she only has one option in front of her if she doesn't want her family to come to harm: to retrieve the paintings. Unfortunately for Kat, Visily Romani, the master thief, is cunning and has hidden them in the most secure museum in the world: the Henley. On a deadline and with her young crew, can Kat pull it off?

My Opinion: Let see, let see. So I'm a fan of cat burglar characters and plots. Don't ask me why, but I just like it. There's just something so cool about those kind of robberies - in fiction at least LOL. I think it's the cleverness and the sophistication involved which makes the whole thing so mysterious :) However, I also think it's one of the hardest plots to pull off in books because as I said, it has to be clever, but there's also the narration. In movies and TV shows, they can always play with the sequences and have stuff happened off cameras and the important scenes are revealed at the end in flashbacks, but  in books, when your plot is narrated at the first POV, well the readers have to be told what happened and it just takes out the mystery.

So how did Ms Carter fare with Heist Society? I actually think she did a great job with the plot! Everything was quite interesting :) How Kat contacted her father to see whether he was the master being the robbery or not, then the investigation and the actual theft. I like how this world is so small and everyone knows everyone. Also, if you don't have the contacts and the money to start with, you don't get far. I also enjoyed the formation of Kat's crew, the casing of the Henley, how their plans came together and how they executed it. Of course, the age makes it a bit unbelievable, but it's fiction after all and you read this for its entertaining value :) In addition, there was some good twists to the plot which made the whole thing quite clever :)

What didn't work so well for me was the characters... Actually, not so much the characters, but the lack of expansion on their background. For example, Kat and Hale. There's obviously a past between them, but we're never really shown or told. It's like we're dropped into the story and not given any explanations. Why did Kat really walk away from the family business? How do they know Simon, the boy who helped them with the security plans, and so on. I needed more information, more background to get a clear image of everything and I feel I didn't get it. I don't know if it was to amp up the mystery factor for the story, but it didn't work for me. Also, I thought Kat was a so-so heroine. I didn't really connect with her character. It's not that she was selfish or self-centered, but it felt to me that she was so focused on her feelings and what was happening that she disregarded the others' feelings. A good leader should be attuned to her team members and she wasn't. Also, I wasn't thrilled with her decision to bring a stranger boy into a crew at the end. It just seemed weird ^_^; It felt like his only purpose was to start a love triangle or a rivalry and I think it was unnecessary. Otherwise, I actually liked all the other characters - they were just a lot more fun.

All in all, Ms Carter delivered a fun book with Heist Society :) I think her ideas were more concise and it resulted in a a great plot. Also, to me, Heist Society read better than the Gallagher Girls books because of the flow and the conciseness. Unfortunately, that pertains only to the plot :( The let down of the book was the lack of background on the characters and situations, it felt like I was dropped in the middle of the story and was missing a few introductory chapters.

My Grade: B. In the end, I'm glad I picked up this book because it was fun and enjoyable.