Title: Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Most of the time, the first book in a series leaves me anxious, craving more. I suppose that’s a good thing. Honestly, though, I want to feel the same contentment at the end of the first book as I would at the end of a series. I want to turn the last page and close it up, stare at the cover for a minute and say, “Wow, that book completely satisfied me. I don’t need anymore; that was fabulous.”
Heist Society, the newest addition to Ally Carter’s YA collection, gave me that. Oh, I will very gladly read more books with the now-established Heist Society, but this book satisfied me enough that I’d be perfectly content to read this as a standalone.
But now the question is why? Well, simply put, our main character is a thief. Not just any thief, a thief who desperately wanted out of the game. Kat wanted a normal boarding school experience, so she conned her way in…only to have her billionaire best friend con her back out. Oh, but he had good reason: her father has been framed for a con he didn’t do, and now the victim and Interpol are both on his tail.
That’s enough to catch anyone’s attention, isn’t it? But how did it hold my interest?
1) The point of view. Carter chose to write this in third person, giving you, the reader, the feeling that you are not a part of this family. You are not on the inside of the con, you do not get to know all the secrets. You have to watch and see what happens just like all the other pawns in this story. The only advantage you get is that you get to see the whole thing play itself out rather than be caught outside of the smoke and mirrors. It’s not third person limited, but it’s not third person omniscient. You stay only in one person’s head at a time, but that can shift without warning. It’s the sort of thing that by an amateur writer feels…well, amateur. Carter pulls it off; only rarely in the book did the odd pov change throw me off.
2) The interaction and the atmosphere. Ally Carter has obviously watched Ocean’s Eleven more times than I have, and that’s saying a lot. Some of the lines between Kat and Hale could have been exchanged by Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Think back to the first third of that movie, how staccato the whole thing feels and yet very easy to follow. This book holds that pace. With the day-by-day breakdown you can almost feel the side-swiping cuts, the establishing shots with cultural music…it’s wonderful, and holds your interest. Warner Brothers, if you mess up this movie, I will be very unhappy.
3) The characters, or the lack thereof. If you’ve read even two of my book reviews, you’d know by now that I love characters. Characters will drive me through just about anything. Like Carter’s Gallagher Girls characters, there’s nothing overtly fascinating about these characters (as far as teeanage thieves/spies go), but I like them, I enjoy them, and they make me smile. To call them a typical heist crew is not fair, but the presence of any of their stereotypes doesn’t surprise you. I would not call this piece character-driven; I think Carter lets other aspects drive the book, not the least of which is the day-by-day breakdown format. Hale is probably my favorite character, but I have a thing for bad boy billionaires. They’re some of my favorite characters. *cough* Bruce Wayne *cough*
Oh, speaking of the Dark Knight, I do hope I didn’t imagine the allusions between Marcus and Alfred. I saw parallels to Mr. Wayne and Mr. Pennyworth, but maybe that was just me. I hope not.
Anyway, in case you can’t tell, I loved Heist Society, and you’re probably wondering when I’m going to review a book I didn’t like, aren’t you? Ha, not today. Not today. Another home run for Ally Carter, and though I would term this book chick lit, if you’re a boy looking for an entertaining ride, and you like spies and thieves, I certainly wouldn’t let a term like “chick lit” stop you from touching this book.