Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: Life After Theft

Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich-kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a klepto. 

No one can see or hear Kimberlee except Jeff, so--in hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history--he agrees to help her complete her "unfinished business." But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff's new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he's made the right choice.

Clash meets sass in this uproarious modern-day retelling of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel. Quoted from Goodreads


When I read that last line I was a mixture of sold and skeptical. I love The Scarlet Pimpernel---book, movie, you name it. At the same time, I wasn't quite sure how in the world the above plot of boy meets klepto ghost was supposed to translate to into Sir Percy Blakney and his band of colorfully dressed cohorts. To be honest, it is a bit of a stretch, but Aprilynne Pike actually managed to pull it off rather well.  There's no Guillotine  but we have a delightfully vindictive principle whose perfectly set against our secret highschool hero.

Now here's the other thing you need to know.  The main character is a boy---Jeff, to be exact---which fits in with the whole Scarlet Pimpernel thing, but totally threw me off because of the cover (and the fact that the Scarlet Pimpernel is told from Marguerite's POV).  The confusion didn't last long---I mean, I 'd really pity any girl named Jeff---but it wasn't what I expected when I first started reading. 

As for Jeff, he's a great main character.  He's the new kid thrown into a crazy situation, who acts (justifiably so) like a crazy person on his first day of school when he sees the ghost of a dead girl no one else can see.  Fortunately, no one really judges (or seems to remember) him talking like a crazy person to "himself" in the hallway that first day. To keep Kimberlee from making his life miserable, he agrees to return the thousands of things she stole before she died. That's where our Scarlet Pimpernel plot line comes in.  The principal is still out to catch the thief that terrorized the school, so when stuff starts reappearing, he's bound and determined to catch the culprit.

It actually worked really well.  To be honest, while I liked Jeff, Kimberlee is the most interesting character in the book.  She's spoiled and annoying, but she's the one who changes and grows by giving all the stuff back.  She's the one, despite how completely shallow she is, that brings a nice depth to the book. 

Jeff and Sera's relationship  for me, is just sort of there. It follows the Scarlet Pimpernel plot line, with one notable and kind of disappointing exception. In the Scarlet Pimpernel, it's Percy who acts differently to hide what he is doing.  Jeff never does that.  So while Sera does have some secrets from her past, Jeff is just himself with one or two secret extracurricular activities. 

All in all, this is a fun book.  I love who Jeff got to help him out in returning the stolen stuff (I won't say who and spoil it for you), and I loved the whole Scarlet Pimpernel thing. It was a fun, light ( but with more depth than I first thought) retelling.  For me it's a lovely 3.5 stars. If you're looking for a fun, high school adventure, that is also a stand-alone (hooray!) you should absolutely check this out.

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