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Friday, July 09, 2010

Zippy Heist Society Steals My Heart

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Katarina Bishop has pulled off some pretty impressive jobs in her 15 years. Not surprising, really, since she's been trained by the most notorious thieving family in the world - her own. These days, though, the only thing she wants to steal is a spot at the most exclusive prep school in the U.S. She's determined to leave "the life" behind, blend in with the other Ivy Leaguers-to-be, and finally live like a normal teenager. There's only one problem: Someone doesn't agree with Kat's new life goal. Someone's trying to get her kicked out of the Colgan School. Someone is succeeding.

Before Kat knows it, she's sucked right back into the life she thought she'd left behind forever. She wouldn't return for anyone else, but her father's in a whole lot of trouble. A very unsavory Italian is accusing Bobby Bishop of stealing a set of priceless paintings from his home. Kat's convinced of her dad's innocence, even if no one else is, but the mobster's not about to take her word for it. There's only one way to retrieve the paintings and save her father's life - and only one person who could pull off such an impossible heist. Kat's got little choice in the matter. She gets to work.

Nothing about the job is easy - Kat's up against more than one formiddable foe; she's got a crew made up entirely of teenagers, few of whom are ready to trust her after her abrupt disappearance from the underworld they all call home; and she's working on a very tight schedule. She's only got two weeks to pull off the biggest art theft ever. Oh, and just to complicate matters, there's Hale. Gorgeous, loyal, funny, and filthy, filthy rich, Hale's her perfect partner in crime. Except that she's over him, just like she's over the whole thieving thing. Isn't she?

Heist Society, the newest YA novel by Ally Carter, is the literary cousin of fast-paced con movies like The Italian Job and Ocean's Eleven. It zips along at a furious speed wasting no time on details lacking immediate relevancy, criss-crosses the globe gathering plot-thickening clues, and expects you to keep up with the neck-breaking pace. The cast is warm and likeable, not as developed as it could be, but enjoyable nonetheless. Like all con stories, this one's a little far-fetched. Still, it's engaging, fun and so difficult to put down that I pretty much read it in one sitting.

As much as I admire the book's sleek plot, it's a little bit too streamlined for me. Since Carter doesn't bother with a lot of background, there are certain parts of the story that just didn't quite add up for me. Kat's motivation, for one thing. I didn't get why she would drop everything to help her dad when they seemed to have only a very strained relationship. There's no evidence of any closeness between them. Also, Kat makes a big deal about wanting to leave her life of crime behind, but steps back into it without a second thought. I expected a little more internal conflict there. Then, there's her relationship with Hale: How did they meet? Why is Hale so devoted to Kat? Why doesn't the big wimp just tell her how he feels? (Apparently, I'm not the only fan wondering these things. When asked if she was going to divulge these secrets in subsequent books, Carter stated, "I will if the book calls for it, but only then.") Oh yeah, and the identity of the original thief? Well, I was positive I had it all figured out. Turns out, I wasn't right or wrong. Dang it, I hate me an obscure ending.

Despite Carter's chronic detail skimping, she's got me hooked. Heist Society kept me so thoroughly entertained that I can't wait for Kat's next adventure. Carter constantly keeps me guessing, but this is (hopefully) a sure thing: Our favorite thief will be back, we just don't know when exactly. See what I mean about obscure endings? Dang it.

(Readalikes: I can think of plenty of movies to compare it to, but no books. Any ideas?)

Grade: B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for some references to female body parts

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Heist Society from the generous folks at Disney/Hyperion. Thanks!


  1. I love Carter's Gallagher Girl series, but this one wasn't my favorite. Still, I'll definitely read the next one. Her books are too fun!

  2. I'm just popping in via the hop to say hi! I'm a new follower and I look forward to your reviews:)


  3. Hi, I'm visiting through the hop. Great blog! I am in love with the Welcome Home theme.

    I'm now a new follower. :)

    Hope you can check my blog out!

    Rex Robot Reviews

  4. I just finished I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill you by Ally Carter. It is the first of her Gallagher series, and it was a really fun read. It is about a private girls academy that trains future spies. I suspect that the two series are a little bit similar.

    I'm think I'm going to have fun reading more written by this author. The Heist Society sounds like a really entertaining read.

  5. I loved this one! She may be one of my favorite authors...


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