Author: Ally Carter
Published: June 21, 2011
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Series: Heist Society #2
298 pages (hardcover)
If you’ve read my old review on Heist Society, the first book, back in August of 2010, then you’d know that, while I thought the book was overall an awesome book, I also said the ending was a little disappointing because Kat and Hale’s relationship was just left hanging and we never figure out the identity of Romani. So I’d like to sort of preface this review by saying I had NO idea, at the time, that Heist Society was going to be a series. After discovering the existence of Uncommon Criminals, it has become clear that Kat and Hale’s relationship, as well as Romani’s identity, are part of an overarching plot of the entire series. My point is — scratch out what I said at the end of my Heist Society review.
Uncommon Criminals is book two of the Heist Society series. And I loved it! Love love loved it. This is one of those kinds of books where once I sit down to read it, I don’t get up from my seat until I’m done. I think it is even better than the first book. I had kind of expected the second book to basically be about another heist Kat pulls with her crew, and while Kat of course, does pulls a heist or two, the plot is not as straightforward as it was in book one.
Katarina Bishop is not an ordinary fifteen year old kid. She is a master thief, a part of one of the world’s best criminal families who have turned grand larceny into an art form. Unlike her family though, Katarina is not stealing masterpiece artworks for herself though. Katarina acts like a modern day Robin Hood, returning lost or stolen artworks to their rightful owners. After the events of Heist Society, though, Katarina has been pulling more and more heists — alone. She attributes her desire to pull more heists to the high she gets from stealing. When she is approached by a vulnerable old woman who asks her to steal the largest emerald in the world, the Cleopatra Emerald, because it was stolen from her family, Kat agrees, despite Hale telling Kat not to. Reluctantly, he helps her with this heist, along with Kat’s cousin Gabrielle.
Kat’s feeling great after helping the old woman out but her feelings quickly do a one-eighty when she realizes she’s been conned. Despite verifying the woman’s story, it turns out that woman had fed Kat a cock and bull story and that she is the real thief. Embarrassed at first, Kat doesn’t know what to do, but with the help of Hale and her friends and family, Kat is determined to steal the world’s most un-steal-able emerald … again. As Kat plots and plans, she realizes her adversary, this old woman, is not who she appears to be. She’s possibly the greatest con artist in the world and perhaps an even better thief than Kat.
It’s another Ocean’s 11-esque plot, but I personally found this one much more exciting than the first heist in the first book, even if a little predictable. The story moved at a quick, brisk pace; it’s thrilling and exciting and I was kept at the edge of my seat, figuratively speaking. The heist(s) are still as large scale as ever (and most likely completely implausible, but hey, it’s fiction). I was fully immersed into the story, and I can’t wait for more books to come out.
I did say Kat and Hale’s relationship wasn’t exactly resolved at the end of Heist Society, and it isn’t resolved in Uncommon Criminals either, but it does move forward. A little bit, baby steps. Kat and Hale’s relationship is one of my favourite things about this series … okay, admittedly, this is mainly because I think I am in love with Hale (whose first name we still don’t know and he still won’t tell Kat and I have a feeling we may simply never know. I am most definitely attracted to his mysteriousness). Still, I really love how Kat and Hale’s relationship isn’t carelessly slapped together, and isn’t based on something as superificial as looks (though I still imagine Hale as super hot in my mind); there is care in constructing it. And they’ve got a good backstory too.
Now, with all that said and done, I do want to point out that while you can most certainly read Uncommon Criminals without first reading Heist Society, it’s definitely not something I’d recommend. Yes, you will understand the plot and figure out who’s who pretty easily, but I don’t think you will fully appreciate the characters’ relationships and motivations. For example — Kat and Hale’s relationship. Or why Kat wants to return stolen items rather than continue the “family business” of stealing for themselves. These are things you don’t need to understand book two, strictly speaking, but I think you will be robbing yourself of the full experience of the book.
So, if you haven’t read Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals yet, go grab yourself a copy now! And if you’ve already read Heist Society but not Uncommon Criminals … well, what are you waiting for?