Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tokyo Heist Review

Tokyo Heist

Book talk:  What would you do if you found yourself living the kind of adventure you normally only find in a book?  Violet loves reading manga and has been working hard on making her own.  She thought her biggest problem this summer would be the fight she got in with her best friend.  Then she goes to stay with her father, an artist, and ends up in the middle of a high-stakes art theft case in Japan.  At first the unexpected trip to somewhere she's always longed to go is exciting, but as the yakuza get involved and her friends and family are threatened she starts to wonder if she should have stuck to making up stories and not living them.

Rocks my socks:  I love the premise that an average geeky girl obsessed with a certain type of media ends up in a situation very much like the ones she's always read about.  Her obsession with manga is a key part of the narrative from the way that she analyzes real-life people by imagining how they'd be represented in a manga to her knowledge of Japanese culture and customs that comes from reading it.  I don't like manga as much as Violet, but I know enough about it that I was able to appreciate the references (I particularly enjoyed Violet's friend's apt description of her relationship with the main love interest: "the two of you are like in episode seventy-eight of a manga series with no climax.")  It makes sense to me that Violet would find it helpful to storyboard ideas in manga form to help organize her thoughts about who might have committed the actual art heist.  It was also pretty meta, which I always like.

Rocks in my socks:  The book doesn't feel like a very authentic representation of Japanese culture to me, but then again it's not really claiming to be.  It's clearly about a manga-obsessed foreigner's view of the culture.  There are plenty of aspects of the plot that strain credulity, but if you can put that aside it's good, clean fun.

Every book its reader:  Despite the action-packed cover image I'd be hesitant to give this to the average heist fan.  There's a lot of quieter moments and manga plays such a big role in the narrative that if you don't know anything about it, it might be hard to appreciate the novel.  I'd be more likely to recommend it to manga or anime fans looking for something in novel form.  There will be plenty here for them to enjoy.  The romance and violence are relatively minimal for a thriller.  I'd say it's fine for 6th grade and up.


Diana Renn has a website with more information about her and her books.

There's an official book trailer:

Source:   school library

Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn: buy it or check it out today!

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