Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Will Steal Your Attention!

Uncommon Criminals (A Heist Society Novel)
When we last left Kat Bishop in Heist Society, by Ally Carter, she had reluctantly returned to the family business to save her father: high-end thieving. They steal what can't be stolen- priceless paintings, one-of-a-kind jewels, and items that have been horded by the rich, famous, and nasty for generations. She and her motley crew of teen masterminds managed to break into the most secure museum in the world and recover stolen paintings. But now Kat has fallen off the wagon. Once she started stealing again, she couldn't stop. The only thing that changed? Her motives for stealing. In Uncommon Criminals, Kat is a new kind of thief.

Kat finds priceless family heirlooms and returns them to their rightful owners. She specializes in art that was stolen during the Holocaust and returning it to the survivors or their families from the war criminals who absconded with them during the war. When a woman approaches her to help return an emerald her family uncovered in Egypt and were scammed out of, Kat can't say no. Even when she finds out the emerald is the famous and cursed Cleopatra Emerald, the jewel that has brought pain, suffering, imprisonment, and death to all those who come near it. Many thieves, including Kat's uncles, have tried stealing the Emerald and failed. But not even the curse can keep Kat and her friends from taking a chance at returning the Emerald to its rightful owner.

Somehow they manage to get the Emerald (no one ever suspects kids!), but after she returns it to the woman, Kat is in for the shock of her life. On the news, Kat sees the picture of the woman whose parents found the Cleopatra Emerald and had it stolen from them- and it isn't the woman Kat gave it to! Now Kat and her friends, who have already achieved the impossible, must find a way to steal the Cleopatra Emerald- again. To make matters worse, it seems the woman who conned Kat into stealing the Emerald is a con artist herself- on of the best! Now Kat and the crew have to con a con artist and find a way to get the Emerald back in one of the biggest jobs the thieves of the world have ever witnessed!

This was a fun sequel in this series that reminds me of a teen version of "Ocean's Eleven". The characters are fun and colorful, and the stealing is for a good reason (usually). I love Kat's crew. They are goofy and add some spice and laughter to the story. When Kat's cousin seems to have been cursed by the Emerald, her usual elegant demeanor is quickly sunken beneath trips, slips, falls, and tumbles. Even the two boys Kat cares about, Hale and Nick, are there to keep the excitement up and moving.

This is a wonderful story for middle school students because it is fun and exciting, but completely clean in language and content. It would also be great for a low-skilled older student, because the story is far from juvenile. I love the versatility of this series; it reaches such a wide range of children, making it a must for libraries and classrooms. My only silly complaint? I wish Carter would stop making her covers so cheesy and "girlie"! This book would appeal to both male and female students, but I doubt I could get an older boy to read it! Maybe I will just toss the dustcover and insist they read it anyway!

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