Kat’s family are thieves. Cons. When it comes to jobs, they’re the ones you call to pull off the big stunts. Still, they’re not above petty pick-pocketing either. Thus, a goodly income. Problem is, when you’re known for stealing stuff, you tend to be the first suspect in any burglary.

An Italian mafia-like guy thinks Kat’s dad stole his paintings. More specifically, the paintings the Nazis stole in WW2 that everyone thought had been lost forever. Totally priceless. And for once, Kat’s dad isn’t the thief. He’s under Interpol surveillance in Paris because of a robbery he actually committed. Funny thing, huh?

Kat and her billionaire a-little-more-than-friends friend W. W. Hale (just short a w and a .com there, sprout) gather some of Kat’s extended family and friends to try to steal the paintings back from the thief. (Double negative there–does that mean what they’re doing is justice? Or do you count it as triple negative?) If they fail, evil mafia guy has many evil mafia things he can do to them. ‘Nuf said.

The Quills: 7/10

There are a lot of reasons people come to Las Vegas. Some come because they want to get rich. Some come because they want to get married. Some want to get lost, and others found. Some are running to. Some are running from. It had always seemed to Kat that Vegas was a town where almost everyone was hoping to get something for nothing–an entire city of thieves.

-Ally Carter, Heist Society

Heist Society is young adult mystery (the general crime fiction definition), told in third person from Kat’s point of view. This book has the YA voice down, and is very fun in the telling.

The story hits the ground running. That makes for very fast, exciting crime. The  problem is, it never stops. The action happens so fast that questions never really get answered. You’re thrown into this very interesting world of thieves, but you don’t speak their language. It’s fun for a while to try to figure out what their schemes mean, but after an entire book of no answers, it becomes a little less fun.

The characters are really flat. Maybe Kat and Hale are characterized. The rest of them remain almost caricatures. The bad guy is so bad, I can nearly hear foreboding background music when he appears.  How’s that for mafia image-building?

Being able to describe your characters in a sentence or two is good–it means they’re not all over the place. Being able to describe your characters in a word or two is not so good. I’ve got a list of the characters that sounds like the seven dwarfs: Sexy, Geeky, Butler, Hyper, Evil, Suits, and Smarmy. That has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

There is little to no world building. I mean sure, it’s set in modern day cities, but I’ve never been to Paris, Vienna, London, or even New York. (Actually, there’s probably half a dozen locations I missed listing here.) Some world building would have been nice. Instead, the characters fly around the world like it’s nothing. And instead of moving to the new place with them, it just feels like I’m stuck in the same place with a different name. I suppose that’s how you travel with a billionaire, but still. When the only thing the book tells you about a setting is that Paris sells croissants and has tourists, that’s not exactly helpful.

Despite the things that are wanting, Heist Society, as a plot driven book, does have the important stuff down: ticking clock, fast pace, long odds, good voice. It’s just not super alive yet. Not quite dead though. Pretending to be dead? Pretending to be alive? Maybe.

The Roses: 8/10

I really like stories about thieves. And smart people. There are some things that don’t make sense to me in the plot, the ending included, but I’m not going to question it too much. It was very fun.

The ending seemed kind of sketchy in general–there were too many ways it could have gone wrong for the protagonists. It seems weird to leave it up to chance and to assume that bribes and/or threats couldn’t resolve the situation, letting the bad guy come after them again, but whatever. Book needs an ending, right?

I liked the story, the pacing, and the voice. While the characters were flat, some of them were pretty fun. I’m willing to forgive everything else.

Heist Society is a fast-paced romp you’ll enjoy if you don’t sweat the details.

Part 2: We’re the Best, Good, Bad Guys

Part 3: Forget the business, this family is nuts.