Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Uncommon Criminals

By Ally Carter

Two Things I Liked About Uncommon Criminals:
1. Casing
2. The names of different jobs

I’m going to keep this short, since this is actually a sequel and, well, it doesn’t really merit a lengthy review.

The Heist Society series stars 15-year-old Katarina Bishop: teenage girl, daughter, and international art thief. I like stories about intelligent crime (See: Ocean’s 11, Catch Me If You Can, etc.) and I like fun novels. Ergo, I loved the first installment of the Heist Society series - titled simply enough, Heist Society - which was basically Ocean's 11 turned into chick lit.

Katarina comes from a family of professional thieves and was born and raised with the instinct and know-how to become one of the best thieves in the business by her ripe old age of 15. In Heist Society she uses her ample skill and expertise to pull a job on the most high-security museum in London, along with the help of her equally teenage team of cousins and a naturally crushable best friend, Hale. Since then, she’s been globetrotting on a quest to steal back stolen items and return them to their rightful owners. Uncommon Criminals sees Katarina approached with a near impossible target: the Cleopatra emerald. But when the soaring rush of success stalls into an unplanned free-fall of failure, it seems that stealing the emerald is only the beginning.

As a fun, frivolous read, I loved Heist Society. Uncommon Criminals, however, failed to live up to even its own expectations. Its flaws were many, but my main criticisms were as follows: 1) the plot is chaotic and disjointed and hangs together well only if you are some kind of literary trapeze artist willing to leap from scene to scene with only the trust that Carter will have left something for you to catch on to again as you fly through the air, and 2) in another book, cool things could have been done with Katarina’s character, making her morally ambiguous – is stealing still wrong if it makes other wrongs right (Robin Hood style)? -  but of course under Carter’s direction there was hardly an acknowledgment of right verses wrong, much less the fascinating grey area in between. Also, considering she’s a 15-year-old international thief, Katarina fell kind of flat as the protagonist. I was vaguely irritated with her throughout the book, which detracted from the pleasure of reading – and that’s all I wanted from Uncommon Criminals: pleasure. But I finished unsatisfied on that score.

Conclusion: I'm not sure I would even recommend it to fans of Heist Society.

Books Read This Year: 53
Top 100 Progress: 45/100

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