Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter

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.
I don't know whether you all remember, but a few weeks ago ago, I went on vacation. It was a lovely vacation brimming over with books. Seriously, look at my post from before I left. I brought a LOT of books. I had no idea how many I was going to get to read or what order I would read them in, but I DID know that I wanted to read Heist Society first, and I'm so very glad I did.

Heist Society is the ideal summer read. It's light-hearted and fun with just enough banter and action to keep the reader entertained. Oh, and the boys are super-cute.
Anyone who's read the Gallagher Girls series will immediately feel comfortable in Heist Society. Technically, HS was written before GG, but as I read GG first, I draw my parallels backwards.

Both series follow a smart girl (Kat in HS, Cammie in GG) who was raised in the family business (thievery or spying). Each girl has a parent who has died mysteriously, and is close in a non-dysfunctional way to the living parent. That's such a relief, by the way, to read about non-dysfunctional families. Some of us do have them, you know! In HS, the living parent (Kat's dad) plays a vital role when he's accused of stealing an evil man's paintings and Kat has to go steal them back.

Both girls have a semi-nemesis in the form of a girl who is kind of scandalous in her attire and very much a guy-magnet. In HS, Kat's nemesis happens to be her cousin, the long-legged Gabrielle. I say semi-nemesis, because Gabby isn't trying to kill her cousin or anything like that. They just don't particularly get along, especially when Gabby is flirting with Kat's best friend, Hale.

Oh yeah, that thing where I mentioned the boys are super-cute? SUUUUUUPER-CUTE. As in GG, Heist Society has a bit of a love triangle situation going on. See, Hale is clearly smitten for Kat. Kat is attracted to Hale but isn't so forward about it. But then Kat meets a pickpocket named Nick who is also clearly smitten with her. I mean, she's a talented thief from a legendary family. What's not to like?

The rest of Kat's crew are all charming in their own rights. There's the Bagshaw brothers, two rollicking Scottish boys who remind me of Merry and Pippin, and Simon, the tech nerd. They're all typical boys - a bit rowdy, a bit awkward, and a bit obsessed with girls. The last part gets a little awkward, since they notice Kat and Gabby (especially Gabby) as girls... even though they're all related, albeit distantly.

I think, in the end, Heist Society beats out GG for me. While the supporting characters in GG are stronger (Liz and Bex are such fun), Kat steals the show. While the heroine in GG sometimes comes across as a girl who happens to be a spy-in-training, Kat is a freaking awesome thief (NOT in training) who just happens to be a girl.

I plan to go out and buy this book immediately (it's on sale at my store), because it was such fun. Nothing in the plot is terribly deep or twisty, but that's okay. It was FUN, and sometimes fun is enough. Especially when that fun involves W.W. Hale.

[Update: I ended up buying THREE copies of this book - one for me, one for my sister, and one as a gift. I also read the second Heist book, and it was just as awesome.]

Points Added For: Hale, being fun, thievery, a creepy bad guy.

Points Subtracted For: Some glossed-over issues (still not completely sure I understand why Kat's dad stuck around).

Good For Fans Of: The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter (my review of the first book), Stephanie Perkins' quirky books.

Notes For Parents: Boys talk about boobs (nothing graphic, just that girls have them), thievery (theft is wrong, but this IS a book about thieves).

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