Author: Kirsten Miller
Publication Date: February 2013
Read: June 2013
Where It Came From: Library
Rating: 3.5 Peter Pan Hats
The Quick and Dirty:
Flick, a teenage pickpocket, leaves the streets of NYC to attend a prestigious academy-- the Mandel Academy exists ostensibly to give not-well-off kids a leg up in the world, but in reality to train the next generation of powerful criminals. Flick agrees to attend in exchange for an opportunity to exact revenge on his father, whom he suspects of murdering his younger brother. As he rises up through the ranks, will he be able to achieve his goal, or will he lose sight of who he truly is? And when the girl he left behind to attend the academy shows up as a fellow student and his best competition, things only get more complicated. Fun and enjoyable, but also very violent, very long, and the protag’s self-loathing became grating at times.
The Wordy Version:
When I began reading this book, I remember thinking about how the jacket copy didn’t really seem to capture what was going on in the book—I mean, it did in a very basic sense, but somehow missed the feel (and the whole middle section) of the book. And now when I just typed up the Quick and Dirty, I can feel those jacket-copy-writers’ pain. This is a hard book to blurb, and that’s the best I was able to do. Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate the awesome cover art. ((moment)) Isn’t it cool?
As an added fun fact, I started reading this book when I was sitting in a Police Office one day (fingerprint cards stuff, not law-trouble stuff). It wasn’t until later that I realized reading a book called How To Lead a Life of Crime in the presence of the police might not have been the best idea I’ve ever had. Hah.
Anyway! I returned this book about a week ago and it’s already starting to become fuzzy in my mind, so we’ll see what I can do here. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it quite a bit, in fact! I liked the gritty atmosphere, and the characters were really well done. Flick, the protagonist, had a distinct, sassy voice, and it was fun to read his snarky perspective. (There was some weirdness with changing verb tenses, though—like for awhile it was like Flick was talking about things that happened in the past, and then switched to telling it like it was happening in present tense, and I just didn’t follow.) For most of the other characters, there was always more to them than what was on the surface. It would’ve been easy for some of these other criminals-in-training (especially the legitimately psychotic ones) to become two-dimensional, but Flick, and thus we the readers, eventually perceived the layers and were able to see them as actual people, complete with pasts and regrets and different motives and all sorts of complicated people-stuff.