Mundie Moms

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review / Giveaway: How To Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

By: Kirsten Miller
Published by: Razorbill / PenguinTeen 
To Be Released on: February 21st, 2013
Source: ARC from author/publisher to review
4 stars: I Enjoyed It
Pre-Order from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both? quoted from Goodreads

What happens when you take a smooth pickpocket and introduce him to a bunch of ruthless teenage criminals at New York City's most exclusive academy for young criminals? You get a twisted, dark story that will leave you cheering on the story's main character, and hoping he not only succeeds but brings down the entire academy, something that's next to impossible to do. 

This isn't a book I'd normally pick up and read. When I first received How To Lead a Life of Crime I was both looking forward to picking up something that wasn't necessarily my cup of tea and a little hesitant at how I would enjoy reading about, as the synopsis says, "A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer." Kirsten Miller did something within her story that hooked me, and had me cheering on her main character, Flick. There was something about a kid who went from having it all on the outside, as in living in a mansion, to choosing to live on the streets, and then inadvertently winding up a Mandel Academy. A place where the forgotten kids are picked up and turned into life long criminals. That is if they survive. Outside of my heartbreaking for the years he endured with an abusive father, there was something about Flick I wanted to know more about. 

When the story starts out, Flick is already on the streets. His story isn't a happy one, but there's this fearless, witty, and understandable vengeful side of Flick that I sympathized with. I had to know which path he'd end up choosing. My inner mama side wanted to fix this extremely broken boy. When I say broken, I mean it in every sense of the word. Flick has dwelt with abuse, and something traumatic that has changed him and made him feel crazy, though it just made me want to console him that much more. It also made me understand what drove his decision making, and how it effected his relationship with Joi. Joi is a character who's probably as broken as Flick, but she's someone who makes him stronger. She herself is someone who brings a different light into this very dangerous, terrifying world where people die, suffer and I didn't even how to describe what makes up their world on the streets. It's terrifying to say the least.

 This story had moments that not only horrified me, it disturbed me over some of the things that happen. There were times I almost put the book down, but the reason I didn't stop reading it is, because somewhere during the course of the story, Flick and Joi grew into something more than just fictional characters. They became a symbol of reality, and morphed into faceless kids who find themselves stuck with not so wonderful life, who end up calling the streets home, and do whatever is they can to survive. I'm sure many of today's kids on the streets lives mirror that of Flick's and Joi's. They all have various heart breaking reasons for turning to the streets and they like Flick and Joi take survival one day at a time. They deal with things I can't even imagine, and getting just a horrifying glimpse into Flick's world turned me into his cheerleader. When all seems lost he doesn't give up. He keeps fighting, even when the odds are stacked against him. I had to keep reading to see if he wins.

Kirsten's writing, and Flick's voice complimented each other well. Kirsten's writing is one that's dark, and I felt that it could have gone much darker had it not been for Flick's witty comments, and his sometimes smart mouth, which really comes across more as his sense of sarcasm. In a few scenes that could have had a much different out come, Flick is a character who can think on his feet, and says some rather sarcastic things that change the way the scenes feels. I will say I've not read another story quite like this one. There's betrayal, murders, crime, love, loss, and a lot of various emotions that apart of Flick's story. I've never read a book that took place a "hidden" crime academy, which is not surprisingly embedded with long standing rivals, crime, and betrayal. When you're Flick and your future is determined by the outcome of how well he does at Mendal Academy, you figure out a way to out smart the crime boss. Given all the happens in this book I'd recommend it to older YA readers.  

Would you like to enter to win this book before you can purchase it? I'm giving away a copy of my ARC to one lucky winner! Please fill out the form below to be entered to win. Good luck!

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  1. I came across this title recently and am definitely intrigued. The cover does not do much, but the synopsis more than makes up the difference in my grab me now quotient :) Thank you for sharing with us.

  2. I agree, I couldn't help but root for Flick. This book definitely creeped me out a few times, but I really enjoyed it overall. Wonderful review!