Tag Archive: Uncommon Criminals



Heist Society #2: Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Ages 12 and up

Kat is back. It’s been two months since she “robbed” the Henley and she is famous…among certain circles. She shouldn’t be surprised when she’s approached to steal back the world famous Cleopatra Emerald for its rightful owners. After all, who better to pull of the impossible theft of a cursed jewel that hasn’t been seen in public for thirty years than a team of teen-aged super thieves. They’ve done the impossible once already. It should be easy, right? Except just when Kat and her crew think they’ve pulled off the greatest heist since the Henley, everything blows up in her face. Now, if Kat wants to fix her mistake, she’ll have to convince her crew to pull off the impossible one more time.

If Heist Society was the intro to Kat and her world, Uncommon Criminals gets into the nitty gritty depths of the characters. This was a stunning follow-up to the first book and it also happened to be a blast to read. Ally Carter definitely delivers in this book. She’s not just continuing the story, but deepening our understanding of Kat and her friends. And she’s not afraid to get “real” with her characters either.

After reading Uncommon Criminals, I have to say that book one just scratched the surface of the characters. We get to see Kat slightly apprehensive in book one, but still determined and gung-ho. She doesn’t have the luxury of stopping to doubt herself for very long. In the second book, doubts abound. Of course, that’s typically what happens when you fall flat on your face (figuratively of course, not literally). We get to see her mess-up big time in this book–both on the professional and personal levels–and that’s nice. I like knowing that the characters I’m reading about aren’t perfect. After all, what better way to stretch a character than to make them face their own failure. Remember, perfect characters are boring characters.

Another highlight in this book for me was the growing relationship between Kat and Hale…or maybe I should say growing awkward relationship. They’re caught in that place where they’re more than friends, but they haven’t quite committed to crossing the line. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I did spend half the book yelling at them.) And we get to watch as Kat contemplates that cross and what it means. Aside from Kat, Hale does continue to be one of my favorite characters. My notes literally have a bullet point with just his name and an exclamation point. And I have no idea what I meant when Iwrote that…so I’m just gonna gcover my bases. Just like Kat struggles with her own issues, we get the impression (from what we can see through her eyes) that Hale is having to deal with his own. And surprise, surprise–they mainly involve her. Some of my favorite moments in this book are the moments between the two of them. In fact, my favorite part is centered around him and his perfect sense of timing. I cheered, just dropped the book and whooped and hollered (and that’s all I will say).

All of our favorite characters are back in this book, including more time with Uncle Eddie (sort of) and some quality time with Gabrielle. I find I like her a lot more in this book (she’s growing on me). She and Kat are less at odds. After all, there’s already enough conflict surrounding Kat with out escalating her rivalry with her cousin.

Just like with her Gallagher Girls series, this second book is nicely wrapped up at the end. Mostly. There’s enough loose ends to have something for a sequel, but were not left with anyone dangling off a cliff. All matters have been settled. I would have liked to have more revealed about what happened to her mom, but I’m assuming that that is going to develop into a greater plot point should the series continue (which it really should).

This is a good example of:

  • Character development
  • Shifts in POV
  • Character flaws
  • Character relationship
  • Plot twists (it’s a big one)

This book is on my recommended reading list.

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Heist Society


Heist Society #1: Heist Society by Ally Carter

Ages 12 and up

What Kat Bishop wants is a normal life. A life where visits to the Louvre don’t involve casing it. Where trips to Austria don’t involve stealing the crown jewels. And she almost manages to get it. Then her best friend gets her kicked out of her prestigious boarding school, because a very dangerous man is missing five priceless paintings. And her father is the suspect. Thing is, Kat is pretty sure that her father didn’t steal the paintings. Not that anyone believes her. With a deadline of two weeks, Kat sets out with her best friend Hale and her cousin Gabrielle to figure out just who stole those paintings…and steal them back.

Despite my deep and abiding love for Ally Carter’s writing, I refused to read this book for a while. On principle. Because the book I really wanted to read was the next book in her Gallagher Girls series. Of course, in the end, that only hurt me and with the next Heist book in the series coming out in nine days and a four dollar price tag at Borders (yeah, I totally took advantage of the four stores that had to close in my area) I decided that is was time to stop acting like a spoiled kid and just read the darn book already. Because I knew I would love it. Which I did, because Heist Society might possibly be better than all the Gallagher Girls books put together (and they are basically four books full of awesome).

Kat is a complicated character. She is a good thief. Good as in, wicked skilled. Everyone she loves is a master thief and this is something that she’s been trained for since the age of three. But it’s not the life she wants. Not since her mom died. She is painfully aware of how much her skills have suffered during her brief hiatus. It’s rather interesting to see her mourn over the loss of skills that she no longer wants to use. Of course, with  her father’s life on the line, she doesn’t let rusty skills stop her. She enjoys the rush of the game, while being painfully aware of just how much one wrong move will cost.

And then there’s Hale.

The only thing that rivals Carter’s masterful female protagonists are her male protagonists. In GG, we had Josh. And then Zach (who I’m in love with, by the way). In Heist we get W.W. Hale. Carter does really well with the tough guy who is really a softee with a little bit of damage. Hale is everything that he needs to be. He’s protective, without being overbearing or getting in the way. Really good with witty dialogue. Just a little bit mysterious (Hale is his last name, he refuses to tell Kat his first) and really, really hot. Yes, it is possible for a character in a book to be hot. Hale is the honorary inductee into the Bishop family. He doesn’t have any ties to “the life”. He just caught Kat breaking into his home one night and took advantage of the opportunity knowing a teenage super thief to find a different life from the one his parents planned for him…and to become said teenage super thief’s not-boyfriend. Just like Kat, Hale has so many more levels than you see at first glance. But where we get a good look into Kat’s thought process, we only get a peek at Hale’s inner self. We just kind have to make an educated guess. I’m hoping we get to see more of Hale’s vulnerable side in the next book (which comes out in nine days, did I mention that?).

Carter has always been really good with her characterization. She has just enough characters in the story to keep things interesting, but she doesn’t over load you. She takes her time, making each of the characters that you spend time with separate and distinct and fleshed out. I can’t wait to see more of Kat and Hale’s teenage crew of thieves in Uncommon Criminals. Especially her cousin, Gabrielle. The tension between Kat and Gabrielle (partly centered around Hale) is very telling of both of their characters. They like each other more than they’ll admit, but sometimes they feel like two cats about to launch into a clawing, yowling, spitting fight.

I’ve read a lot of books. And many authors that I’ve read don’t really change from book to book. If you’ve read one Redwall book, you have the basics of every other Redwall book. How the author treats point of view, the kinds of story they tell, the kinds of characters they like to focus on don’t usually change. Not so here. While Gallagher Girls was a first person narrative with a protagonist decidedly on the right side of the law, Heist Society is in third-person and about characters who are more likely to cause a headache for the law. Granted, there is still a lot of Carter’s style in the book. It’s still about teenagers that spend a good deal of time having to look over their shoulders. And her humor is just as skillful, but the characters are a little more mature than in previous books. The scene on page 283 had me in stitches for a good five minutes. And then, of course, that was so much fun that I have to reread the scene.

The point of view in Heist Society is unique. It’s limited omniscient, I believe. For the most part we’re reading from Kat’s POV, but every now and then the lens zooms out and we get to glimpse a moment or an impression. Almost like we’re voyeurs, stealing  in to watch the story unfold. It gives the book a movie-like quality.

The premise of the story, a master thief being forced to steal against her will isn’t anything new. But the way Carter treats it is refreshing. the struggle between Kat and her family to accept her leaving is real and touching. And the solution that she comes up with at the end of the book is both surprising and expected. One of those, should-have-seen-it-coming kind of things.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was the reading of an afternoon and an enjoyable use of my time. I can’t wait to get my hands on book two next week.

This is a good example of:

  • Author versatility
  • Limited POV
  • Character crafting
  • Handling a moderate cast of characters
  • Humor

This book is on my recommended reading list.

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