How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller
Release Date: February 21st 2013
Synopsis: 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?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the first chapter to the last. I would even say that I love this book in the way I would love a (fictional) bad boy. There’s priceless dark humor, good ol’ snark, thievery, trickery, flawlessly made characters, a well-planned conspiracy, and a heart-pounding story filled with danger. How to Lead a Life of Crime is a novel that stuck to my hands until I finished. And after I finished the novel, I was whispering to the little hardcover these words:
Looking at the synopsis, it’s not hard to get the wrong idea. I myself thought that this was going to be one of those stories that can be compared to a teen graphic novel or movie. But what I thought that this book was going to be like was completely wrong. How to Lead a Life of Crime doesn’t kid around. The Mandel Academy is ruthless and dangerous. Most of the students of the academy have lost hope, and some of them are just crazy. There is definitely that anybody can die atmosphere. And the villain, well, he seems to know exactly what the protagonist are planning at all times.
The carefully planned conspiracy that is happening behind the locked doors of Mandel Academy is perfectly executed. And really, I had a hard time not believing it. Kirsten Miller blends the Mandel Academy so well into the contemporary world of How to Lead a Life of Crime that it actually started to blend into what is happening in reality.
The idea of an academy that takes in kids from the streets, turns them into unfeeling people only after their own desires, and setting them out into the world as powerful people to manipulate the lesser powerful might be hard to believe at first. But if you think about it, it’s kind of not. How many times have people with power or fame been accused of having a hidden agenda that could have negative affects on the population as a whole? Definitely not just a few times.
White did an amazing job writing an authentic male character and voice. In fact, Flick is the best well-written character I ever had the pleasure of encountering. His character is wholly unpredictable. I do remember being shocked by his decisions many times awhile reading this book. And his flaws are brilliantly written in a way that makes the reader look past them and look for the good person behind them all, which isn’t hard to do as the story progresses.
Joi is just as great as Flick. My jaw dropped when she returned. She kicked so much butt with the way she lead and conquered. She is confident in her peer’s skills and invested trust when she knew she could, unlike Flick who tries to go solo. Seriously, this girl is amazing.
How to Lead a Life of Crime also features side characters that play roles that are almost as important as Flick and Joi’s roles in the story. If characters like Ella, Violet, or Aubrey weren’t in the book, I’m pretty sure that everyone would be dead in a puddle of blood or completely brainwashed.
The emotion that the author was able to pull from me was surprising. I don’t think I have worried for a character’s life that much. And don’t even get me started on all the thrill and excitement I went through.
The prose comes with an abundance of clear descriptive writing and sensory, as well as doses of ultra-awesome snark and dark humor that had me laughing out loud. Never had I read a novel with such great snark in the prose.
“’See? You’re the crazy one, you redheaded freak.’
I’ve been attempting to translate the phrase into Latin. If I ever succeed, I shall make it my personal motto.”
The only flaw that I can find in How to Lead a Life of Crime is the censoring of ‘fuck.’ Instead of being written as a complete word, the word is written as ‘f—-.’ I didn’t find any point of doing that. The reader knows what word is being used, so the censoring just becomes an annoyance. But that’s only a itty bitty, tiny flaw that flew right over my head once I got sucked in by the story.
I have nothing but praise for How to Lead a Life of Crime. The plot is incredible, the characters make White worthy of an award, the writing is amazing, and the conspiracy is believable. My only regret about reading this book is that I’m going to be wanting more for the rest of my life. Why must this be a stand alone?
Note: There are also many references to Peter Pan, so if you are a fan of the classic, then you might love this book, also!