Three stars in the best way possible. :)
This is the story of Katarina Bishop. She is a teenager, a boarding school reject, and an unambiguously moralistic thief. Kat and her posse of fellow teen thieves are on a mission to clear her dad's name of a dangerous crime before the dude he supposedly ripped off (who has the coolest name ever, Arturo Taccone) uses her father as an example of what happens when Mr. Taccone is crossed. Intrigue!
Honestly, the beginning chapters did not grab me. At all. I thought that the writing was trying too hard, Kat was unreadable and/or boring, and the billionaire teenagers with a plethora of skills (they're mastermind thieves and know how to smolder!) were completely unrealistic. Let's talk about how these issues improved... or didn't.
Overall, I really did enjoy Carter's writing style. This may be a stretch to some of you, but I was overwhelmingly reminded of E. Lockhart's writing in Frankie Landau-Banks. Frankie was a five-star book for me, so I mean that as a compliment. Both books have a certain polish and flair that I really like, as well as a propensity to be dramatic and self-important. You know... Although Kat did not know it at the time, what she did next would lead to one of the most important - and dangerous - events of her life! Not a direct quote, but both books employ that kind of dramatics to tell the story.
First off, Kat never excited me much. I think of this as a more plot-centered book anyway, so I doubt it was ever on Carter's priority list to give the reader a deep and heartbreaking look at Kat's psyche or anything like that.
Hale was basically Mr. Smexy. Apparently even grown women can't handle his charm, which I found unrealistic (dude, he's sixteen), but then I remembered that he's also a billionaire. And let's face it, money makes people hotter. Especially when said people are billionaires.
The assorted teens who join Kat's thieving ranks are enjoyable and diverse. True, they don't wander much from their pre-established stereotypes, but they're quite fun. And Gabrielle gave Kat some legitimately good boy advice, and if Kat had bothered to take this advice a whole lot of romantic angst would have been avoided. But we can't have that, can we?
Hey there, book-ruiner. Well, not ruin. But the whole set-up required a willingness to buy a premise that I just can't buy. Perhaps there are some teenagers who would be able to pull off a huge heist like this, but I didn't believe that these teenagers could. They spent too much time bantering and flirting and not enough time planning the dang thing.
Carter made a very purposeful choice to make Kat and Co. clearly on the "good" side in this whole criminal business. They steal things just to give them back to their rightful owners! Maybe some readers would require this in order to enjoy the shenanigans, but I thought it was kinda silly.
I am sounding quite negative, so lemme take a minute to say that once the plot took off I was having the time of my life. The humor was very, very enjoyable and I thought that Nick was an interesting addition. I was so suspicious of him; I thought I had the whole plot twist figured out.... but I was wrong.
Hale was good for the role he played. I especially liked the scene where he followed Kat to the bakery. (Maybe my love for Peeta has just made all romantic scenes involving baked goods automatically awesome for me.) I mean, he handed her a cup of hot chocolate and draped his coat over her shoulders! Sa-woon.
There was a familiarity and immediacy in this book that I also really loved. These characters know each other well, and Carter didn't go out of her way to make their connections clear. I was extremely confused during the majority of the book as to how Hale and Kat even knew each other, and Carter just explained it in one line of dialogue near the end of the book. Very sly!
And my most favorite gimmick she used was the pattern of mentioning, in passing, various tricks that could be used in a robbery. They had silly names like Avon Lady, Mary Poppins, and Five O'Clock Shadows. Best part:
"Princess Bride?" Hamish offered, but his brother turned to him.
"Do you know where we can find a six-fingered man on such short notice?"