Tokyo Heist

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3.2 (2)
 
2.8 (3)
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Tokyo Heist
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
June 14, 2012
ISBN
978-0670013326
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When sixteen-year-old Violet agrees to spend the summer with her father, an up-and-coming artist in Seattle, she has no idea what she's walking into. Her father's newest clients, the Yamada family, are the victims of a high-profile art robbery: van Gogh sketches have been stolen from their home, and, until they can produce the corresponding painting, everyone's lives are in danger--including Violet's and her father's. Violet's search for the missing van Gogh takes her from the Seattle Art Museum, to the yakuza-infested streets of Tokyo, to a secluded inn in Kyoto. As the mystery thickens, Violet's not sure whom she can trust. But she knows one thing: she has to solve the mystery--before it's too late.

Editor reviews

2 reviews

A Fast-Moving Adventure
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
TOKYO HEIST promises a mystery that spans two continents, with plenty of danger and intrigue, and it delivers. I really enjoyed the way art, Manga, and Japanese culture are woven into the fabric of the story. I learned so many interesting things about all three. Having a narrator who turns the people she meets into Manga characters and sees every detail through an artist's eye was refreshing and different. I thought the worldbuilding was flawless.

The plot and character development left me wanting more, however. I saw all but one plot twist coming (But to be fair, the one plot twist I didn't see coming was really awesome!), and the characters never felt fully developed to me. They came close, especially in the context of Violet's relationship with her dad, but it never got beyond the narrator telling me how she felt and moving on quickly instead of showing me the emotion and weaving it throughout the narrative. There were also a few instances when something dangerous and clearly important happened and Violet inexplicably chose not to tell an adult. Given the high level of danger surrounding her dad and herself, I found that hard to believe.

However, I don't necessarily think any of those things are detrimental to the story itself. This reads like the next step up from tween and chapter book mysteries. Fans of Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and other intrepid female sleuth series will love this. Fans of Manga will love it, too. It fits nicely as a stepping stone between younger mystery series and the more hard-boiled adult series waiting for the reader in a few years. I will absolutely recommend this to my own kids, and I look forward to the next book from Ms. Renn.
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Travel and mystery
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
2.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Violet loves reading and drawing manga, and is not happy that her mother is going away for the summer and dumping her on her father, whom she does not know well. When she finds that her father will be spending the summer in Japan working on a mural for the Yamada's corporation, she feels a little better, especially since her friend Reika is there for the summer as well. Things become complicated when the Yamadas have some sketches supposedly done by Van Gogh stolen from them, and are under pressure to find a painting that once accompanied them. The painting has not been seen since 1987, when the brother of Mr. Yamada bought the works and shortly thereafter committed suicide. There is a yakuza, or mafia, link to these pieces of art, and Violet is convinced that her father is in danger. Can she and Reika find the pieces and art and keep everyone safe? Like Violet's own manga character, Kimono Girl, they probably can, but not until after a lot of adventure in Japan.
Good Points
Very good use of setting and culture in the mystery. There are a lot of students interested in manga, and this would certainly appeal to them. Anyone who liked Carter's Heist Society of Runholdt's Mystery of the Third Lucretia will love this one.
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User reviews

3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
2.8
Plot 
 
3.0  (3)
Characters 
 
2.7  (3)
Writing Style 
 
2.7  (3)
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Fast Paced Fun
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
I love travel and love books set in foreign places. Renn did a great job capturing Tokyo in this book. I felt like I was there. The pacing and character development were also great. I fell in love with the protagonist. I flipped the pages fast and I read this in only a couple of days. Lots and lots of fun!
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Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn
(Updated: September 29, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
1.0
Plot 
 
1.0
Characters 
 
1.0
Writing Style 
 
1.0
-
HS
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Good for Young Teens
Overall rating 
 
2.7
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
2.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Tokyo Heist is my first and last experience with DAC ARC tours. I signed up a couple of months ago, I think, and have since withdrawn from the Debut Author Challenge (though I continue to do my own non-age-specific debut challenge). Since that is a requirement for the tours, I am not going to be joining any more of them. However, I have NOTHING against DAC ARC Tours. They have been very professional and nice, even though this experience was more drama-filled than some, since the first ARC disappeared somewhere along the way. So thank you to DAC ARC Tours and to Penguin for making it possible for me to read this ARC.

Tokyo Heist would make an excellent read for younger readers looking to transition to YA or for middle graders. The content, writing, and characters definitely would fit with that age group well. Violet definitely felt like a young 16 to me. There were definitely times where she would be trying to figure something out and I would be headdesking at how obvious this particular part of the mystery was. This was not the case with every single clue by any means, but did happen more than once. I also couldn't believe that the FBI was impressed by some of her suggestions, since most of them seemed pretty obvious; maybe they were just being nice.

Of course, Violet does do some serious sleuthing too, along with the Scooby Doo variety. Where Violet and Tokyo Heist really shine are in the sections focusing on artwork. As the mystery progressed into more art-based research and sleuthing, the pace definitely picked up and I was less able to point out the obvious solution.

It's also great that you can totally tell how passionate Violet is about art, both other people's and her own. In fact, the artistic descriptions were so vivid that I occasionally sort of felt like I was reading a manga rather than a novel. This would have made a stellar manga or graphic novel, btws. It would have been like Inception, when it got into the Kimono Girl scenes!

Part of what made Violet seem so young was her manga obsession, which was also something I enjoyed, being a lover of manga as well. However, Violet takes it a little too far, as a young teen might do. Whenever she's stuck in her mystery-solving, she asks herself "WWVSD?" (What would Vampire Sleuths do?), because that is her favorite manga. She also tries to figure out how to handle her crush on her best friend by looking to manga for advice. Friends, I adore manga, but DO NOT DO THIS. No wonder she's having so much difficulty with her romance, poor dear.

Tokyo Heist is a fun read full of Asian culture (ftw!). If you're looking for something light with an entertaining mystery and some diversity, Renn's book is definitely worth picking up.
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