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jenryland

jenryland

How to Lead a Life of Crime - Kirsten Miller I loved The Eternal Ones and All You Desire, Kirsten Miller's prior two YA books. They were the complicated story of a pair of lovers who have been united, repeatedly torn apart by death, then reincarnated. The story went from Tennessee to Manhattan to Italy, spanning continents and centuries.After reading How To Lead a Life of Crime, I've decided that Kirsten Miller's books definitely have some common characteristics: multi-faceted plots, scheming villains, and colorful settings. There are themes of revenge, of lovers separated and love tested, of trust and betrayal.How To Lead A Life of Crime also incorporated a bunch of literary references. The books starts with a Dickensian feel, following petty criminal Flick as he pickpockets his way across the Lower East Side. He's in love with Joie, a sort of Robin Hood meets Wendy Darling character who mothers a group of urchins, shoplifting new shoes and birthday presents for them and leaving a note of thanks. Peter Pan references are a big part of this book -- Flick tells Joie's crew that Neverland is actually the afterlife and is followed around by his dead brother Jude, whose favorite book was Peter Pan. One of Joie's boys is named Dartagnan, a likely reference to the Three Musketeers and their "all for one, one for all" motto.I really liked the opening chapters of How To Lead a Life of Crime. I was not as happy when the plot left the Lower East Side and shifted to the Mandel School. The school recruits Flick, telling him that they teach petty criminals to think bigger -- helping them transition from petit larceny to crime on a more massive and lucrative scale. Lucian Mandel, son of the school's founder, is finally able to lure Flick away from Joie and her merry gang by promising Flick something he really wants -- proof that Flick's father was responsible for his brother Jude's death. But first Flick has to get settled at the Mandel school, having a tracking chip implanted, then learning about the school's complicated student ranking system. At this point, the Mandel School didn't really make much that sense to me and my interest started to fade. But about two-thirds of the way into the book, the real purpose of the school was revealed and the book's opening began to have significance.How to Lead a Life of crime is a dark book with a complicated plot and raises a lot of interesting questions about whether criminals and the criminally insane are made or born, and about the nature of evil. Click here to read the full review, which includes my opinions on cannibalism and swearing in YA.