Saturday, 7 September 2013

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Title: Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Released: February 9th 2010
Pages: 291 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her to the case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled 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 her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster's art collection has been stolen, and he wants it returned. 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 (very crooked) history - and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

Being a fan of Carter's Gallagher Girl series, when I saw Heist Society, I knew I had to read it. Yeah, I'd seen a few negative reviews here and there - but her writing isn't for everyone. Turns out that statement can't be more true, and now it seems that her writing just isn't for me anymore.

Katarina Bishop has spent her entire life being raised as a thief - not a pick-pocket thief, but a lets-steal-some-Monet thief. However, Kat hates the family business, so as soon as she could get out of it, she did - but not for long. With her dad being framed for stealing a powerful mob leader's art collection and a threat hanging over his head, Kat and her childhood friend, Hale, set out to prove his innocence. The only way of doing that? Retrieving the paintings. The problem is that the paintings, although hidden in plain sight, won't be easy to retrieve.

I am sixteen years old - aka, I am around both Kat and Hale's age. Shouldn't I be able to relate to them? Shouldn't Hale be my latest book boyfriend? Shouldn't I crave Kat as a best friend? The answer is yes, yes I should. But I don't. Why? Heist Society is a teen book.

I'm sure you're now looking at this review thinking, Um, Nina? Your blog is a YA book blog - you read teen books all the time! See, now that's where you're wrong. Over the years, I've learnt that there is a slight difference between teen books and young adult books, with that difference being the maturity level. The characters in Heist Society...they may as well be twelve with their lack of emotional depth. They were completely one-dimensional, and it honestly felt like I was reading a piece of mine from when I was ten. And this is coming from someone who previously liked Carter's writing! Let me break it down a bit.

At first, Kat seemed like the usual protagonist - feisty and bold. I quickly replaced these adjectives with naive and young. Being young isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it was in her case. By no stretch of the imagination can you believe that a fifteen year old girl is learned enough to travel across the freaking world all by herself, whilst scheming some grand heist! I wanted St. Trinians-esque - instead, I got some girl playing dress-up.

With Hale, I found that although he too lacked depth, he had the opposite problem of Kat - as in, no way was he sixteen! Carter characterised him as dark, mysterious and brooding. No sixteen year old I know is any of those things - teenage boys are annoying, acne-ridden, and only interested in one thing: gaming consoles. Okay, so not all of them are those things. But they don't have time to be mysterious, and they aren't old enough to be "sexy" - Hale may as well have been ten years older.

And then we move on to the "villain" of this book. I use quotation marks because he was the least intimidating mob boss ever. EVER. For someone who was threatening to kill people for a piece of artwork, one wouldn't expect him to pick up his opponent and tell her he liked her. In all seriousness, he was as terrifying as a kitten. Actually, my cat is more terrifying than him, so I take that back.

The biggest problem is that even if we looked past the poor characterisation, the plot itself was terrible, too. Carter jumped into the story without setting down any background information - if I hadn't read the blurb, it would have taken a few chapters for me to even figure out she was a thief! And then the heist took a long time for it to even happen, and then it was over in a heartbeat - all that build up for essentially nothing. Admittedly the heist chapter was interesting, but it still didn't make up for the rest of the book.

Overall, I'm not going to read another Heist Society book. I couldn't relate to the characters, and I just didn't like the book on a whole. However, I'll still continue with the Gallagher Girls series. Maybe I'm just more of a spy girl than a con artist?
Rating: 2/5

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