Book Reviews

Heist Novel Edition!

I am writing a heist novel for Nanowrimo this year, and so I checked out every YA heist novel in my local library in order to do some genre research.

Now you get the benefit! Come see what I thought of three of my research books.

OH MY GOD! I love this book. I listened to it on audiobook, and probably looked like an idiot as I laughed until I cried at the wonderful main character.

The Disasters by M. K. England

The Disasters by M.K. England

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OH MY GOD! I love this book. I listened to it on audiobook, and probably looked like an idiot as I laughed until I cried at the wonderful main character.

For a book where the main villains are a bunch of isolationist, racist, transphobes, this was a surprisingly light and humorous book. And the representation! Not just of race and religion and LGBTQ, but of mental issues as well. I love the idea that there’s an app that lets Muslim colonists know when to pray!

They group is a bunch of rejects from a space school. They’re all lined up to be sent home, not able to try for another 5 years, when the station is attacked. What follows is a wonderful space heist romp that is somehow completely believable. Which is incredibly hard when you have teenagers trying to save the galaxy. Crazy smart teenagers almost accepted into the elite of elite schools, but still.

And, for a science fiction story set at least a hundred years in the future (it might have said specifics, but I was on audiobook…), the topics were so on point and relevant that it was scary. I loved the commentary, and I don’t usually like politics getting into my SF/F.

In case you weren’t paying attention, please go and read this one!

White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat by Holly Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

White Cat has an interesting magic system (or “worker” system) combined with a con family working for the mob. It dove in a little too fast for me, at least listening to the audiobook, but once I got my bearings it was a really good ride. I must admit I saw the mid book twist coming from about a mile away, but that’s ok, because I didnt see the ending twist.

And the characters were great. I really enjoyed having the heist/con story told from the perspective of someone who is very clearly not a mastermind. Or, at least, not a very good mastermind, in the all-knowing, pull-all-the-strings, total-control sense.

Spoilers ahead!

But that ending twist. Did we have to have the girl that spent half of the novel as a cat also get mind raped at the end? And why is it always the girl? It took this strong, resilient character and reduced her to character growth fodder for the male main character. Sigh. I hope it works out in the next two books.

Because I will be reading the next two books. After Nano.

Spell Hacker by M. K. England

Spellhacker by M.K. England

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading The Disasters by M.K. England, I was eager to read anything else they had written.

Not as good as The Disasters.

There’s still great representation. Especially of trauma and its victims, in this case. A non binary character in this one, though not the lead, and casual mentions of LGBTQ relationships in older couples, which I absolutely adore.

The plot was a bit predictable, in the evil organization way, but I can forgive that because it’s a heist novel. We expect and love our tropes in heist novels. This one had enough interest for me to keep the pages turning.

And a good thing it did, because I could not connect with the main character. At all. She wanted her friends to stay with her. Great, fine. But to not be able to ask them, then scheme and trick them into staying? So much of the interpersonal conflict of this story could have been solved with just a bit of open communication. The fact that we don’t find out till the middle or latter half of the book that there is a deep seeded reason for her avoidance doesn’t mean I wasn’t screaming at the character for most of the book. And not in a good way. As a first person point of view, her lack of communication (even when her friends ask her directly) and subsequent whining over ruining her friendships really turned me off.

However, not enough to put down the book! Nor enough to avoid the author in future. I liked the plot, and I loved their previous book, so I am looking forward to what they produce in the future!

View all my reviews

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