Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gossip Time...The Heist Society

Heist Society, written by Ally Carter, is like Ocean's Eleven but for teens! Do you know how much I love Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, and Ocean's Thirteen?!? These movies glamorize the lives of thieves and are full of witty, subtle humor (my favorite kind). And of course some George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt never hurt either.
 Ahem, now that we have the eye candy over with, let's talk about the amazingness Ally Carter has created with Heist Society. Nothing can sum this book up better than the synopsis on the back cover:

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her to the case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own-- scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal proves harder than she expected.
Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back to the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster's priceless art collection has been stolen and he wants it returned. Only a master thief could have pulled off this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help...

I actually listened to this on audio book and the narrator Angela Dawe is phenomenal. There are two things I learned about writing from Ally Carter:
  • Building suspense by holding back information. There are a couple scenes where Kat will look at a photo or read a letter, but Ms. Carter never tells us what Kat sees. In my head, I remember thinking What is it? What did she see? What did it say? This technique is used in movies all the time, and it wasn't until I read Heist Society that I realized how this technique can be used to build suspense in writing.
  • Conversation that leaves you yearning for more. I think I have a habit of letting my characters be too transparent with each other. When there is too much transparency there isn't any tension. When Katarina and the other characters speak to each other it's often in witty, clipped phrases that don't entirely divulge the matter at hand. As a reader this made me want to pull my hair out from the sheer suspense and tension of it all. Ally Carter you're awesome.
Needless to say, if you're looking for a good read, you won't be disappointed by Heist Society.


  1. I've heard of this book but I didn't think I was interested. You've made me interested and since I've just started listening audiobooks maybe I'll get this one. Thanks for the review.

  2. Personally, I hate the holding back information tip. And I would caution writers that it only works in third person. The closer you get to first person or third person limited the more it becomes a cheat. It's especially bad in mysteries. And I just saw this recently. The audience gets all the clues and then the final crucial piece is with held just to create suspense - even though everything up to that point has been shared. So frustrating! But the book sounds very interesting. I used to love a YA series called Fearless that did a good job of teen action/suspense.

  3. Ha Ha. I appreciate your honesty Shane. Heist Society is written in a definite third person and that's why I think holding back information worked in this particular book.