Author: Aprilynne Pike
Genre: YA contemporary, retellings, paranormal
Publication Date: April 30, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC/Edelweiss Review Copy
Summary: Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich-kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a klepto.
No one can see or hear Kimberlee except Jeff, so–in hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history–he agrees to help her complete her “unfinished business.” But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff’s new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he’s made the right choice.
Clash meets sass in this uproarious modern-day retelling of Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel.
☆: 1/5 stars – interesting idea, poorly executed.
Review: Oh boy. This one was…difficult to say the least. As I love retellings of any sort, I was really looking forward to “Life After Theft”. I didn’t have much luck with any of Pike’s previous works, really – nothing earthshattering, at least, so I was hoping this work would change my mind. Unfortunately, “Life After Theft” just wasn’t for me (to put it lightly).
While the cross-gender narration wasn’t too terrible (Pike makes for a semi-convincing boy in terms of 1st person POV voice, which was a real surprise for me), what one of the larger issues with this book aside from my largest one (which will be discussed in a moment) was the prose itself. The conversations felt like the author was imagining what teenagers were saying, not realistically what they would be saying. The conversations between Jeff and Kimberlee at first, even with the shock of omg I can see ghosts was incredibly stilted and just felt…wrong. Not quite ringing true to the age group. And it just kind of went downhill from there.
Then there was the portrayal of Santa Monica as a place where only the rich live. Wrong. Depending on where you go (Santa Monica is a pretty big city within the City of LA as a whole), yeah, you do have a somewhat big portion of concentration of the wealthy, but it’s not the entire city. It doesn’t define the entire the city. I should know – I lived there for awhile as a child. I was born there. I feel like Pike was reaching just a little too far for a rich place for a rich kid to live – if she wanted a more accurate “rich person colony”, she should have gone for Malibu, really.
And what broke the camel’s back – the racial/ethnic slurs used as comedy by not by one but both characters very early on in the book. I mean, before even page 60. Jeff naming his car after Halle Berry – and I won’t go any further, because I think you guys can figure out the rest. And while I can understand why one character can/would do it (we all need unlikeable characters to make a book whole), I find it pretty intolerable that this was used for both characters. Not even kidding. And this was even before page 60.
And with that (and with the poor character construction and the pretty much non-existent worldbuilding), I was done with “Life After Theft”.
I wish it could have been different, as I loved “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, and I was really looking forward to this retelling of it. But when all of those things happen…yeah. Not gonna happen. I still plan on reading “Earthbound”, so I’m not entirely done with Pike’s work as of yet, but I’m getting there.
But that’s just how I feel about it. “Life After Theft” is out today from HarperTeen, so go ahead and check it out when you get a chance and see how you feel about it.