But first, we wanted to post our release day review for Aprilynne Pike's Life After Theft. It's a fun YA contemporary, with a hint of a paranormal twist.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Expected publication: April 30th 2013 by HarperTeen
Format read: E-ARC via Edelweiss
So when I found out that Aprilynne Pike was writing a book inspired by Orczy's Pimpernel, I knew I had to check this book out.
Plot synopsis (via Goodreads)
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.
Things that worked:
I liked the fact that he struggles with his decision to help Kimberlee. On the one hand, he feels extremely sympathetic that Kimberlee has obviously been floundering on earth since her death. On the other hand, he also (rightly) resents her for intruding on his day-to-day activities, and isn't shy about calling her out on it. It made him feel more well-rounded, overall.
* An unapologetically snotty side-kick/antagonist. I've always thought that Pike's characters in the Wings series were a little too syrupy sweet, so I loved the fact that Kimberlee was completely nasty when she was alive - though, not without good reason - and isn't really sorry about it, even now. It made her so much more interesting, and in many ways, even more sympathetic. The reader could feel her desperation when she tried to point out to Jeff that she doesn't have a choice but to continuously haunt him - she's been completely alone and ignored for over a year.
* Writing/pacing. Loved how quickly everything unfolded - from Jeff integrating himself into his new school, to the completion of the first round of unfinished business. Pike's plotting keeps the reader interested and intrigued by the plot.
* The subtle touches. Pike puts in a lot of details that will make Pimpernel fans grin, but also won't confuse those who haven't read Pimpernel before. She also subtly snarks on the Los Angeles/Beverly Hills culture, and as someone who's from the area, it made me laugh in appreciation.
Things that didn't work:
(I don't know - I seem to find this a problem in all of Pike's books. She can never write a relationship that I find convincing or compelling. I'm sort of hoping that her next book won't have a romantic angle, so I can concentrate on things that I *do* like. /wishful thinking)
* The cover. As Jaime Arkin points out in her review, the cover is somewhat misleading. It gives the impression that the book is a female YA contemporary, when it has a male protagonist. Ultimately, it - as Jaime states - "alienates an entire group of potential readers."
I can get why HarperCollins decided to go this route with the design - after all, Kimberlee drives a lot of Jeff's story - but I also think that there could have been different choices.
* Resolutions for certain characters. This is purely a personal preference, and not a writing/technique critique. I just wish there had been more of a resolution for a certain character at the end. I wanted that character to have a happy ending.