Missed the first part of this series review? Find it here.
Kat’s gone rogue. No, she’s not ratting her family out to Interpol. No, she hasn’t left her family for a snobby, rich kids’ boarding school. She’s become one of the good guys (sort of), leaving her family and friends behind as she goes alone to steal things back from other thieves.
Kat’s become so well-known as a stolen thing re-stealer that she gets a job from Visily Romani himself. He tells her to steal the Cleopatra emerald, the largest emerald (probably also the largest gemstone) in the world, in order to return it to some old lady who claims her parents found it first.
Two problems: Hale is mad that Kat ditched him during her recent thefts, and the emerald is cursed. All the previous plots to steal it have gone horribly wrong, but that doesn’t stop Kat. And when the curse kicks in, she realises that she really, really wants a team by her side.
The Quills: 8/10
The child who had never had a house felt homesick. The thief who had robbed the Henley wanted help. And the girl who’d walked away from her family business came to realize that, no matter what she did, she never could leave the kitchen.
-Ally Carter, Uncommon Criminals
Like the previous instalment, this novel is narrated by Kat, with a more distant, analytical narrator jumping in at times. There’s more of the distant thing in this one than the first. The writing is mostly quick, keeping the book moving at a good pace, but then there are those moments when you have to pause and savour the perfect phrases. As with the first, it is a young adult mystery that is very much plot based.
This book felt slower than the first one. There was a little more room for characterisation and world building. Just a little. Hale is characterised a bit more and so is Gabrielle, but the rest of Kat’s crew are just as hyper and flat as ever. Instead of building on the characters already present, this book simply adds more characters. Don’t get me wrong–they’re interesting people. But it would have been nice to get to know the people already introduced before adding to the boiling pot of names. The villain for this book is still as flat and evil as ever, but the mystery of Visily Romani is interesting at least.
The plot is less straightforward than in the first book; there are a few interesting twists here and there. Still, it’s simple enough that a middle grader could follow it. There is the teeniest bit of romance, but without knowing the characters that well, it feels more like an insubstantial crush. The lines are sometimes cheesy and sound like those out of an 80’s romcom. Poor Kat.
There is a lot less random flying around in this book, which helped me keep track of where they were. Fewer locations means fewer places to describe. Because of that, the casinos and high-roller suites of Monte Carlo had a chance to come alive.
The Roses: 8/10
I’ll admit it, I’m a little torn. I liked this book both more and less than the first one. I liked it more because I wasn’t scrambling to remember where in the world they were. I liked it less because of the awkwardly executed romance. I liked it more because the plot was a bit more complex. I liked it less because I expected to learn more about the characters and was left wanting.
Hey, I never said I was straightforward.
In the end, I think I’ll go with “I liked it more.” The twistier plot did it for me. I love smart plots, the kind that leads you along and you don’t see the whole picture until the very end. And at the very end, you realise every single thing is right about that plot. This book did not have that plot. But I like to think it’s warming up to that. Fingers crossed!
Conclusion: The budding romance notwithstanding, this book was even better than Heist society. If you enjoy fast-paced books about (teen) thieves, you should definitely let Uncommon Criminals take you along for the ride.