Books Young Adult Fiction How To Lead A Life of Crime

How To Lead A Life of Crime Featured

http://www.yabookscentral.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x275s/e4/d5/0b/_how-to-lead-a-life-of-crime-1361748464.jpg
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
448   0
Publisher
Age Range
14+
Release Date
February 21, 2013
ISBN
978-1595145185
Buy This Book
      
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?

Editor reviews

When I read the blurb for HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME, I was intrigued. A school for 'misfits' that trains them to be criminals. Only these teens are orphans and have serious 'issues' like Flick who is a pickpocket. Others are Meth-addicts, serial killers, and hackers. What the author does with this premise is guaranteed to pull the reader right in. This is one addictive read! I couldn't put this book down!


Think a modern day Oliver Twist meets an Academy for teen Sociopaths. Flick is recruited to the highly exclusive Mandel Academy and finds he needs to survive by his wits in order to stay alive. This is where the story has an almost Hunger Game flair going for it only former graduates are the ones who put bids on who will be the top of the class. There's three groups: The wolves(who are on the top), Androids(smart but not enough to be at the top), and Ghosts. Only the most ruthless graduate and become highly successful and rich. The others disappear.

The writing reminded me of a modern day Oliver Twist with orphans and wayward, trouble teens being given a chance to do something with themselves. Only in this case it's to turn them into ruthless individuals who become predators and destroy the weak links. Social Darwinism at it's worse!

The school is ruthless and the Mean Kids here make bullies from other schools look passive. Any kind of humanity is put to the test with the over all goal of making students self-serving and past feeling. Very scary.

It would have been so easy to paint Flick as a total hard, selfish protagonist. And at first he does come across this way. But the author peels back his tough exterior little by little to show how much Flick isn't like the others at Mandel Academy. His relationship with Joi shows his vulnerability and humanity. It's a fine line he walks. He can't let any 'weakness' show or else he knows he'll end up as a Ghost.

There's mystery, intrigue, suspense, and even hints of humanity. The director's idea that he can turn a person to a sociopath is chilling. This reminded me of when I was in college and worked with a group of emotionally challenged teens. I saw how if the odds were stacked against them and they'd never heard any kind of love or acceptance, they could indeed 'turn' out to be what others had already labeled them. Handel is calculating and a psychopath in his own way. Readers won't know who to exactly trust as there are reveals and twists throughout.

Well-written tale that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Fans of Ally Carter's HEIST SOCIETY will enjoy this twist on the whole idea of teen criminals.
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Kim Baccellia, Editor Reviewed by Kim Baccellia, Editor February 24, 2013
Last updated: February 26, 2013
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (373)

School For Teen Sociopaths

When I read the blurb for HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME, I was intrigued. A school for 'misfits' that trains them to be criminals. Only these teens are orphans and have serious 'issues' like Flick who is a pickpocket. Others are Meth-addicts, serial killers, and hackers. What the author does with this premise is guaranteed to pull the reader right in. This is one addictive read! I couldn't put this book down!


Think a modern day Oliver Twist meets an Academy for teen Sociopaths. Flick is recruited to the highly exclusive Mandel Academy and finds he needs to survive by his wits in order to stay alive. This is where the story has an almost Hunger Game flair going for it only former graduates are the ones who put bids on who will be the top of the class. There's three groups: The wolves(who are on the top), Androids(smart but not enough to be at the top), and Ghosts. Only the most ruthless graduate and become highly successful and rich. The others disappear.

The writing reminded me of a modern day Oliver Twist with orphans and wayward, trouble teens being given a chance to do something with themselves. Only in this case it's to turn them into ruthless individuals who become predators and destroy the weak links. Social Darwinism at it's worse!

The school is ruthless and the Mean Kids here make bullies from other schools look passive. Any kind of humanity is put to the test with the over all goal of making students self-serving and past feeling. Very scary.

It would have been so easy to paint Flick as a total hard, selfish protagonist. And at first he does come across this way. But the author peels back his tough exterior little by little to show how much Flick isn't like the others at Mandel Academy. His relationship with Joi shows his vulnerability and humanity. It's a fine line he walks. He can't let any 'weakness' show or else he knows he'll end up as a Ghost.

There's mystery, intrigue, suspense, and even hints of humanity. The director's idea that he can turn a person to a sociopath is chilling. This reminded me of when I was in college and worked with a group of emotionally challenged teens. I saw how if the odds were stacked against them and they'd never heard any kind of love or acceptance, they could indeed 'turn' out to be what others had already labeled them. Handel is calculating and a psychopath in his own way. Readers won't know who to exactly trust as there are reveals and twists throughout.

Well-written tale that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Fans of Ally Carter's HEIST SOCIETY will enjoy this twist on the whole idea of teen criminals.

Was this review helpful to you? 
 

User reviews

Already have an account? or Create an account
Title: How to Lead a Life of Crime
Author: Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: February 21st, 2013
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: I like the cover art but I feel they could have done more with the graffitti concept. It isn't something that would jump off the shelves for me. I do, however, really appreciate the quality of the physical copy. The slipcover paper is thick and has an almost gritty feel to it and I love that little surprise when I grab a book off the shelf and it feels different from everything else.

Review:
How to Lead a Life of Crime is not at all what I expected. Like many reviewers, I had anticipated that the author would approach this topic from a humorous point of view. Instead, we have a story that include some incredibly dark elements. Our main character, Flick, comes from an abusive household. He is living on the streets after the death of his younger brother, Jude. Flick is an accomplished pick pocket appears to be trying to prove something to himself. He is close to another homeless teen, Joi (pronounced Joey), who runs an unofficial shelter for kids but still keeps her, and all others, at arms length. Flick's greatest desire is revenge on his father, the man who beat him mercilessly and who, Flick believes, killed Jude in a fit of rage.

The story plays out at the prestigious Mandel Academy, a school that, on the outside, appears to be a safe haven for impoverished youth but, in actuality, is a prison that requires them to become predators to survive. The school intends to benefit from "saving" these children by putting their new found criminal skills to use in order to gain an even tighter stronghold on the resources of not only the country, but the entire world. Flick joins the school with the aim of surviving long enough to get intel on his father and then insure the man's destruction. What he doesn't count on is the horror and depravity that he will discover within the walls of the Academy.

How to Lead a Life of Crime features some really fantastic characters. Flick has some major flaws but is a kid that you can truly root for. He has had a horrific childhood and survived to become a very strong and independent teenager. I particularly enjoyed the hallucinations (possibly...) in which he saw his little brother as Peter Pan.

They add a mysterious element and a touch of whimsy to an otherwise very dark novel and they allowed a setting in which we could see how vulnerable Flick truly was. Despite how much I enjoyed Flick and despite all of the arguments to the contrary, he was a bit slow. It seems to take him a great deal of time to realize the depth of depravity of the headmaster of the school and the lengths to which he is willing to go to secure his position. And this, is where Joi comes in. Joi is, quite literally, a joy. Upon entering the school, she is able to see, very quickly, where the weak points are and how she can exploit them for her own aims. The change in character from her commune to the school is remarkable - suddenly, she is strong, independent and can kick some serious ass.

Her return to the story is a real turning point and I couldn't help waiting for a snappy 80's music montage as she cleaned house! I will admit, the background characters in the book were a bit static. Many of them blended together and I could never seem to remember which wolf was which, which, in the end, didn't appear to matter much.

The pacing in this book is fantastic. The first half builds on intrigue and is able to provide the reader with enough background on the school to understand its inner workings, without bogging us down with monologues. The second half is where the action really picks up. We have a great deal of plotting behind the scenes and lots of twists and turns. Just when you think you have the plot figured out, the entire world turns on its ear and you realize you have no idea what is going to happen. We are also allowed the chance to experience some major character growth, especially in Flick, and an overwhelming theme that, despite all appearances and stereotypes, everyone has value.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

Age: 15 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Allusion to sex, no descriptions.
Violence: Attempted rape, Hand to Hand Combat, Kidnapping, Murder by very Violent Means, Mutilation of Corpses
Inappropriate Language: Bastard, Jesus, Faggot, Shit, Piss, Bitch, Douchebag
Substance Use/Abuse:Underage Drinking, Prescription Drug Abuse,
Zabet Reading Reviewed by Zabet Reading February 14, 2014
Top 500 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (4)

How To Lead a Life of Crime

Title: How to Lead a Life of Crime
Author: Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: February 21st, 2013
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: I like the cover art but I feel they could have done more with the graffitti concept. It isn't something that would jump off the shelves for me. I do, however, really appreciate the quality of the physical copy. The slipcover paper is thick and has an almost gritty feel to it and I love that little surprise when I grab a book off the shelf and it feels different from everything else.

Review:
How to Lead a Life of Crime is not at all what I expected. Like many reviewers, I had anticipated that the author would approach this topic from a humorous point of view. Instead, we have a story that include some incredibly dark elements. Our main character, Flick, comes from an abusive household. He is living on the streets after the death of his younger brother, Jude. Flick is an accomplished pick pocket appears to be trying to prove something to himself. He is close to another homeless teen, Joi (pronounced Joey), who runs an unofficial shelter for kids but still keeps her, and all others, at arms length. Flick's greatest desire is revenge on his father, the man who beat him mercilessly and who, Flick believes, killed Jude in a fit of rage.

The story plays out at the prestigious Mandel Academy, a school that, on the outside, appears to be a safe haven for impoverished youth but, in actuality, is a prison that requires them to become predators to survive. The school intends to benefit from "saving" these children by putting their new found criminal skills to use in order to gain an even tighter stronghold on the resources of not only the country, but the entire world. Flick joins the school with the aim of surviving long enough to get intel on his father and then insure the man's destruction. What he doesn't count on is the horror and depravity that he will discover within the walls of the Academy.

How to Lead a Life of Crime features some really fantastic characters. Flick has some major flaws but is a kid that you can truly root for. He has had a horrific childhood and survived to become a very strong and independent teenager. I particularly enjoyed the hallucinations (possibly...) in which he saw his little brother as Peter Pan.

They add a mysterious element and a touch of whimsy to an otherwise very dark novel and they allowed a setting in which we could see how vulnerable Flick truly was. Despite how much I enjoyed Flick and despite all of the arguments to the contrary, he was a bit slow. It seems to take him a great deal of time to realize the depth of depravity of the headmaster of the school and the lengths to which he is willing to go to secure his position. And this, is where Joi comes in. Joi is, quite literally, a joy. Upon entering the school, she is able to see, very quickly, where the weak points are and how she can exploit them for her own aims. The change in character from her commune to the school is remarkable - suddenly, she is strong, independent and can kick some serious ass.

Her return to the story is a real turning point and I couldn't help waiting for a snappy 80's music montage as she cleaned house! I will admit, the background characters in the book were a bit static. Many of them blended together and I could never seem to remember which wolf was which, which, in the end, didn't appear to matter much.

The pacing in this book is fantastic. The first half builds on intrigue and is able to provide the reader with enough background on the school to understand its inner workings, without bogging us down with monologues. The second half is where the action really picks up. We have a great deal of plotting behind the scenes and lots of twists and turns. Just when you think you have the plot figured out, the entire world turns on its ear and you realize you have no idea what is going to happen. We are also allowed the chance to experience some major character growth, especially in Flick, and an overwhelming theme that, despite all appearances and stereotypes, everyone has value.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

Age: 15 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Allusion to sex, no descriptions.
Violence: Attempted rape, Hand to Hand Combat, Kidnapping, Murder by very Violent Means, Mutilation of Corpses
Inappropriate Language: Bastard, Jesus, Faggot, Shit, Piss, Bitch, Douchebag
Substance Use/Abuse:Underage Drinking, Prescription Drug Abuse,

Was this review helpful to you? 
 
Powered by JReviews

LATEST YABC BLOG POSTS - BLOG TOURS, ANNOUNCEMENTS, AND GIVEAWAYS

  • #ReadISLA Flashback: Lola And The Boy Next Door

      Hey guys, today we're hanging out with Lola and Cricket!   Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is ...

  • YA Authors as YAs: The Megan Whitmer Edition + Giveaway (US/Canada)

      Welcome to the latest YA Authors as YAs interview! Our goal? To prove that your favorite authors — no matter how AWESOME and COOL you think they are — were once awkward, weird, and they geeked out about fandoms and guilty-pleasure music JUST LIKE YOU when they were teens. ...

  • Check out the trailer for PADDINGTON!

      PADDINGTON   We're so happy to bring you the trailer for PADDINGTON, based on the beloved children's book by Michael Bond, arriving this Christmas!   You know you need a good dose of *bathroom* humor this morning, right? Enjoy! And keep your eyes peeled for PA ...

  • It's live!! Cover Reveal: Charmed by Michelle Krys + Giveaway (International)

      Welcome to this week's cover reveal! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for CHARMED by Michelle Krys, releasing May 26, 2015 from Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Michelle:   ...

  • #ReadISLA Flashback: Anna And The French Kiss

    Bonjour ami! Je suis heureux que vous soyez ici, j'aime votre visage!   Okay, so, my French is a little rusty, but fingers crossed that I just said,     Hello friends! I'm glad you're here, I like your face!   Today, w ...

  • #ReadISLA

      Hello YABC! I had a BLAST hanging out with Isla and Josh this weekend! See? They said to say, Bonjour! My initial thoughts? ISLA is intense, heart-wrenching romantic perfection! Have you checked out the ISLA chapter sample? If not, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! ...

  • It's live! Cover Reveal: Soulprint by Megan Miranda (US only)

      Happy Almost 4th of July, YABCers! Today we're super excited to reveal the cover for SOULPRINT by Megan Miranda releasing February 3, 2015 from Bloomsbury. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Megan:   Hi there, YABC readers! I’m so excite ...

  • Giveaway: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare Prize Pack Giveaway (International)

      Today we have a guest post giveaway by M.G. Buehrlen, author of THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE. Go forth and enter and win! Hey YABCers! Today feels like a pretty fine day to have a giveaway. And who better to give awesome things away to than the awesome reviewers who help spread ...

  • Excerpt Reveal: Fog of Forgetting by G.A. Morgan

      Hey YABCers! Today we bring you a special treat – a chapter excerpt from THE FOG OF FORGETTING by G.A. Morgan! So grab a cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage, sit back, and enjoy a few pages of 100% totally free fantasy reading.  Before we get to the excerpt, here's a bit ...

  • #ReadISLA Campaign

    Hello Fellow YABCers! I am BEYOND excited that YABC was asked to participate in the #ReadISLA campaign as we eagerly await, ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, the third companion novel in Stephanie Perkins' ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS series!   From the glittering streets of Manh ...

  • It's live!! Cover Reveal: Color Song by Victoria Strauss + Giveaway (US/Canada)

      Happy July, YABCers! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for COLOR SONG by Victoria Strauss, releasing September 16, 2014 from Skyscape. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Victoria:   Hello, YABC! I’m thrilled to be sharin ...

  • Giveaway: One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (US & Canada Only)

    One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (editors) Release Date: 8/26/14   About the Book How could one teenage boy’s life elicit other kids’ first experiences — even after he dies? Nine interconnected stories from nine top YA writers. Kev’s t ...

View more blog entries

Latest Book Listings Added

Category: Young Adult Indie
In the hierarchy of magical beings witches reign supreme. Unlike trolls who need rocks to cast their spells or mermaids...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Some kids are just born in a tangle. At sixteen years old, Sawyer Jackson hasn’t seen much beyond...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Shardheld, the third and final book in the great Shardheld Saga, epic fantasy for both Y.A. and Adults. Muus’...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place. In alternating...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Wish You Weren't
Category: Kids Indie
Marten doesn't believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. So when he makes an...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the bestselling author of Catching Jordan comes a brand new contemporary YA you won't forget. The finish line is...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Will Moore has been Missy Jamison’s best friend for years, and until recently, she hadn’t considered going "there" with him...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the remarkable imagination of acclaimed artist Jim Di Bartolo and the exquisite pen of bestselling author Kiersten White comes...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this astonishing memoir, Paige tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal—one that will resonate deeply...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
When Penelope the Fox drops her heart into the sea, she’s swept off on a perilous journey, dodging sharks and...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen year old Emma Cartwright leaves her family's rice plantation after a slave is beaten to death. Determined to help...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Fans of Sarah Dessen will love this heartbreaking story about family, loss, and the joys and disappointments of first...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek. One minute Danny was running from...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Selena Fallon is a dreamer. Not a daydreamer, but an I-see-the-future kind of dreamer. Normally, this is not a...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Ruff Ruffman is having a bad day. First, his fancy pants get stolen, then he gets a message from his...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Monkey and Elephant are very good friends, very good friends with nothing on the agenda. So they decide to go...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Transformation, empowerment, love and music come together in the book, Beautiful One. Elizabeth Ryan is a beautiful, shy, naïve high...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (2)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Landry gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends. She...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Amberlin.DDestiny.jpg
Category: Young Adult Indie
"Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst." C. S. Lewis Amberlin Gentry doesn’t feel all...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)