Smash & Grab
Author: Amy Christine Parker
Expected Publication: July 19th, 2016
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Format: e-ARC, 352 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Read: July 2016
I received an e-ARC of this book from Random House Children’s via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story. Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist!
LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.
CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .
Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.
Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.
Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This book is just a lot of fun. The plot is exciting and entertaining. It’s action packed and there are so many different facets to what’s going on in the story. I liked how it developed though I think the climax took a little too long to show up. There were times when it was extremely convenient, making it unrealistic and the resolution at the end was really easy. But this is the kind of book where you can’t take it too seriously, just experience the ride.
Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
Super fast paced writing style. It’s fun, engaging, easy to read and it was very easy to tell the distinction between the main characters since this book is told in dual point of view. However, it tended to play a lot with stereotypes, Hispanic in particular which I tried not to get too angry at. Sometimes it was unrealistic but that goes along with the story itself which is also a bit unrealistic.
Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I really liked the two main characters in this book but one a lot more than the other. Lexi can be considered more of a protagonist but not by much. She’s spoiled, but tough and a little bit cold. She’s a huge adrenaline junkie but it’s more of like a game to her. However, she’s also really caring within her group of friends and is fierce in her protection of them. I just feel like she has more negative than positives in her characterization. Christian on the other hand, I just loved him. Not only because he’s representing the Latino and Hispanic community but because he’s just a genuinely nice guy. He’s determined and selfless. He’s really smart and sweet and funny. He’s got a shitty kind of life handed to him but he’s doing the best he can for his family and his close friends, I gotta give it up to him. Unfortunately, there are a lot of side characters and they’re not taken advantage of. They’re not developed, they’re just there to create a bigger dynamic but they’re underdeveloped. And then there’s this random moment when a guy named Noah shows up for two chapters and then disappears. So yeah, they should fix that.
I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this book but I actually really enjoyed reading it. I was pleasantly surprised.
The plot is entertaining. We follow Lexi, who after her father’s arrest for mortgage fraud, goes undercover at the bank to try and find evidence against her dad’s boss to convict him for the scam. Along the way she meets Christian, a boy from the other side of the city, who wants to get away from the small time robberies and the gang who has him under their thumb. Together they must find a way to pull the biggest heist known to them, without you know, dying or going to jail. This books is super fast paced, really easy to get lost in and the alternating voices are distinct and unique. Even if the chapters didn’t specify whose perspective we were in, it’s easy to tell what character is speaking. But you can’t take this book too seriously. Some of the things that happen are completely farfetched, starting with the premise which is fun but unrealistic and really hard to pull off in the real world. I mean for a group of teenagers faced against the odds of what they’re trying to do and what actually happens it means the plot is completely riddled with holes. The odds are impossible and the action while entertaining seemed too easy for teens on their own. The ending was very fast and totally convenient for everyone. It was rushed and it didn’t really feel like a complete resolution. But it was still an entertaining and fun read.
Also this is really dumb but something that bothered me is that they mentioned Ocean’s Eleven a lot throughout the book. I know they use it in the blurb to entice but I’m pretty sure that movie came out when I was like ten and I turn 22 tomorrow so the teens of this generation probably have no idea what it is or who’s in it. Though I did feel like the West Side Story pitch is true.
Lexi is a very tough kind of girl. She came off as really cold and like she wants to be able, closed off emotionally. In the first chapter, she breaks up with a guy over a text! I mean how rude. She’s a thrill seeker who loves her people and only her own. I liked her in general. I didn’t connect with her as much as with Christian though. He completely captured my heart. I loved his intentions and the way he stood up for his family and his friends. He was in a really tough situation and I admired his desire to get out of it. I loved the Hispanic representation in this book, that it was honest but still a bit stereotypical. I tried to be mad at it but to be real with you guys, I’m pretty sure there are Mexican gangsters in LA that talk exactly like the characters in this book do so I had to deal.
The biggest disappointment for me was the lack of development for the side character. I love a character driven story but the main characters aren’t the only ones that are important. You can’t have side characters only to move the story along and this felt like that a little bit. There are sooo many and there’s a lot of possibilities to develop them further but I feel like we just got the bare minimum enough so that we knew them and understood why the main characters cared about them. It felt like a waster opportunity.
Overall, I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. The plot is fast paced, action packed and entertaining, though it probably wouldn’t be able to happen in real life. I liked the main characters but Christian a lot more than Lexi and I appreciated that there was Hispanic representation, especially in a book set in LA. I wish the side character would’ve been explored a bit more but I still had a good time while reading.
So that’s it for this review! Let me know if you’re interested in this book and if you’ve read books by this author before. I’m interested to see other people who are fans of contemporary thrillers because I definitely am! Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!