Thursday, 6 September 2012

Review: Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. 
There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.
Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.
Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

The first book in the series ‘Heist Society’ was a perfect blend of humour, the slow burn of romance, intelligence and downright sassy awesomeness. There is nothing I love more than intelligent teenagers and cons, and HS handed them to me on a silver platter with a neat little bow.

So it’s no surprise that I was insanely excited to get my hands on this, the second book in the series. Because Ally Carter never disappoints, so there was no fear that this wouldn’t live up to my expectations going in.
And it was, if possible even better than the first book. Yes ok, the first book has that magical element that the first book in a series always has because it is fresh and new and you can’t help but goggle at the characters in all their awesome continent hopping glory.

Carter manages to keep all the things that worked so well in the first book and yet still turn it completely on its head. The first book we got to see how good Kat is, and how well she and her crew work together. In the second book we get to see Kat completely screw it up. And whilst it was horrifying for her to not be the smooth operator from the first book, it was so awesome to see her fall down and try to pick herself back up again.

We really got to see a lot more of Kat as she developed. There is a lot more to her than you initially see in the first book, so it was good to see her and her issues over the family life of crime fight their way to the surface. I loved seeing how she tries to do what she’s good at whilst trying to create a distance and distinction between what she does and what her family does. And yes she gets cocky, she’s obscenely good at what she does, and she’s a teenager, so it was good to see her take a fall, but instead of running to the grown-ups she owns up to it and tries to make it right. I loved watched how she grows and loses the chip off her shoulder, and really starts to embrace who she is and those around her. I really hated watching her try to distance herself from everyone else, most particularly Hale, so it was good to watch her come round and start to accept that she is never in it on her own.

Hale, oh Hale. How do I love thee? Lots. I loved the slow burn between Hale and Kat in the first book, and it’s back and even more smouldering in this second instalment. Carter really knows how to draw out the romance and keep it burning on nothing more than fleeting touches and lingering glances. I loved seeing Hale and Kat finally start to reconnect after her desperate attempts to keep him at arm’s length, and I can’t wait to see how their relationship progresses from here.

The plot is deviously twisty – even more so than in the first book. It genuinely had me guessing right from the start. You want Kat to come out on top and yet she seems to get thwarted at every turn. I loved seeing the crew come together again, they are such a fascinating bunch of kids with some truly incredible talents between them. I was laughing, screaming and whooping right from the start. There’s plenty for everyone, whether you want romance, thrills, desperate plots, incredible cons or just a truly awesome book. I highly recommend this whole series and can’t wait to see what Kitty Kat gets up to next.

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