Karen Chan's Reviews > How to Lead a Life of Crime

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
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's review
Jan 13, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites
Read from December 19 to 20, 2012

To be honest, I was prepared to be disappointed. Why? Well, usually books that seem promising end up letting me down. Books that are hyped up like DIVERGENT and MATCHED didn't hold up to giant expectations.
This book did.

So here's the official summary:
" A Meth Dealer. A Prostitute. A Serial Killer.
Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called
prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young
criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to
graduate. The rest disappear.
Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel
recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame.
They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will
they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both? "

The book actually doesn't begin with him at Mandel Academy, but you know it's coming. And it's kinda hard to read the introductions when you know the interesting part--Mandel Academy--is approaching. The protagonist's name is "Flick," representing his pickpocketing skills, (view spoiler) but him changing his name is more of a way to disconnect with his past self. It's not like he grew up in the streets (quite the contrary), but a few things happened that made him run away to the streets of the Lower East Side. There he meets Joi, pronounced JOEY (I kept on wanting to pronounce it like JOY), who runs a colony of unwanted kids and teens.
Kirsten Miller's romance is pretty subtle. She doesn't give many details of what's going on when they're together, but from dialogue later you kinda know what happened. (view spoiler) They have quite a relationship :D I wasn't sure about it at first, but by the middle-end of the book I loved them so much!
This book is extremely packed with twists and action. I noticed many underlying themes that aren't just the plain old "beat the bad guy" because everyone, even Flick, has some evil mojo that make you question people's intentions. Actually, Flick had this one moment where I felt totally disconnected with him, but I think that was a point that the author was trying to make.
Okay, so there were some very dark themes, which is a little expected from a book about a crime academy. But there are some very demented people.... On a lighter side, I kind of loved the satire the author used for the titles of class names. Oh, and there are great references in this book. One guy is described looking like Atticus Finch, and Flick takes note of "fake books" on shelves. (GREAT GATSBY?!)
I really don't want to say more because it's better to read with less information. For me, I like being surprised and really engaged in the plot/characters, and this book really hit the mark.

By the way this book ended, it's pretty obvious there isn't going to be a sequel.... :( However, I look forward to whatever Kirsten Miller writes next, and I'm definitely reading more of her!
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Reading Progress

12/19/2012 page 35
9.0% "Very interesting so far, but the bleeping out of curse words is a little off-putting..."
12/19/2012 page 125
34.0% "Interesting that they would have fake books...."
12/19/2012 page 135
37.0% "The author's references are brillant!"
12/19/2012 page 170
47.0% "This book is pretty amazing."
12/19/2012 page 204
56.0% "This book is addictive. And I love the author's diction. Man, I have a feeling that I'll be up late tonight :D"
12/19/2012 page 210
58.0% "Oh, snap. I get why he's called "Flick""
12/19/2012 page 228
63.0% "Wow, this just got really intense."
12/19/2012 page 260
72.0% "Great quote: "What takes more guts? To fight for your own life at any cost--or to prove that you're willing to lose it?" (NOT OFFICIAL QUOTE)"
12/19/2012 page 277

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