Two Minute Reviews: Heist Society & The Strange Case of Finley Jane

Saturday, June 18, 2011
This is a post with two reviews because a) I've had an insane day and wanted to post my review on N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Kingdoms, but the day got away from me and b) neither warranted a long, detailed review. One was a novella I happened to stumble across (Finley Jayne) and the other left me pretty unimpressed.

First up:

Author: Kady Cross
Genre: steampunk, young-adult
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles #0.5
Pages: 78 (Nook version)
Published: May 2011
Rating: 3.5/5

This was an quick, enjoyable little glimpse into this new steampunk series by Kady Cross. It cuts a few corners (some of the character's motivations don't really seem valid, unlikely coincidences, overhearing just the right snippet of a conversation), but it nothing egregious or too annoying. Consisting of less than 80 pages, there was more than enough about this short story to recommend it. This free novella was an excellent way to ensure that I will be buying The Girl in the Steel Corset when I can find it in the Monstrosity. Finley was a more than decent protagonist, with enough mystery to make her intriguing and compelling. Believably protective (and of the young and weak, even), but she possesses a darker side. A new twist on the young girl with power: one that doesn't understand that dangerous ability, nor a girl with a guardian to help her learn. A very nice transition to book one is made at the conclusion of Finley's escapade with the Morton family and I cannot wait to jump into the series. This is free for Nook, Kindle, and Kobo for free. More than worth the time to search for it is my final verdict. 


Author: Ally Carter
Genre: young-adult
Series: Heist Society #1
Pages: 287 (hardback version)
Published: February 2010
Rating: 2/5

I liked this just fine, there is just not much to go on. There are abundant paper-thin teenage characters pulling an 'impossible' museum heist, with no outside help on a museum that has never been hit. This was an incredibly easy, quick read: it took less than two hours for me to complete. I would've liked it better had there been more atmosphere, tension or even real connections between the characters. They all seemed a bit jammed together with no real cohesion as group, especially missing the camaraderie needed for close-knit, long-standing friends pulling a job. Kat (get it? She's a cat burglar) hardly stood out as the main character. The author tries to hard to make her seem 'edgy' and real, but she comes off flat as a board.
There are elements that work for the story (Kat and her love-interest Hale the teenage billionaire were the only two with chemistry, the mysterious Uncle Eddie commanded a little curiosity) but the novel lacked any real depth or feeling. I found myself more annoyed by the constant coy references to the characters' past (and always unexplained exploits and history) than intrigued by the tidbits. We're left to assume Kat is The Greatest Thief Ever at 15 with no real basis or facts for that theory, and then are constantly reminded of that checkered past with every new character that is introduced. It just doesn't work; I couldn't buy the basic plootline and it was downhill from there. I was never involved in the fate or the interaction of the characters, nor did I truly find the plot worth the below-average characterization. This was a pass for me. I most likely will not be buying the second, Uncommon Criminals when it is released later this week. 

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