by Diana Renn
Published: June 14th 2012
Viking Children's Books / Penguin
Review copy provided by Publisher for an honest review.
Sixteen-year-old Violet loves reading manga and wearing scarves made from kimono fabric, so she’s thrilled that her father’s new painting commission means a summer trip to Japan. But what starts as an exotic vacation quickly turns into a dangerous treasure hunt.
Her father’s newest clients, the Yamada family, are the victims of a high-profile art robbery: van Gogh sketches have been stolen from their home, and, until they can produce the corresponding painting, everyone's lives are in danger -- including Violet's and her father's.
Violet’s search for the missing van Gogh takes her from the Seattle Art Museum, to the yakuza-infested streets of Tokyo, to a secluded inn in Kyoto. As the mystery thickens, Violet’s not sure whom she can trust. But she knows one thing: she has to solve the mystery -- before it’s too late.
I've had this book for over three months now and I'm so glad that I finally had the chance to read it. The story was just exciting from start to finish. I'm also in love with any thing Japan related so the setting definitely won me over.
Tokyo Heist is well-written, adventurous, youthful, and undeniably irresistible. Diana Renn is off to a good start and I'm now itching badly for her next work.
Let's start off with what I absolutely loved about the book:
Violet. This is a girl who like me loves all things Japanese. She's fascinated by the culture and all it has to offer, so you can only imagine how wonderful it was that she had the chance to not only go to the country, but to also help (without being asked that is) with the mystery before her. I was pointing fingers since the opening chapter as to who the crook was. To be honest, I never suspected that person to actually be the culprit. Just didn't fit my criteria I guess.
I'm also satisfied with her romantic interest, and how oblivious he was at start to her feelings. But good thing for her there was further development to her love life as the story went on.
Other characters I liked (but disliked at start) was her dad. I admired him for his artistic nature, but I would've liked him to spend more time with his daughter. It also bothered me how he failed to mention that he even had a daughter to the people he worked with. Like seriously, what the hell! I did warm up to his character later on though.
Was there anything I didn't like?
Nada. Diana wrote without constraints. She threw out details right at the beginning so readers could understand what was taking place at the same time when Violet was finding stuff out as well. I think her technique was just pure genius and I applaud her for never making me get bored with too much.
Her choice in setting was just tasteful. It's always more interesting when you base your story in a foreign country. There's nothing more exotic than that.
I don't think I can write any further on how awesome this book was for me. I can just tell you go pick it up if you haven't read it yet and prepare yourselves to get blown away. As of today, Diana Renn is my favorite debut author!
Diana grew up in Seattle and now lives in Boston with her husband and son. She graduated from Hampshire College and earned an M.A. in English and American Literature from Brandeis University. After graduate school, Diana taught ESL, writing, and literature, worked in educational publishing, and authored several ESL textbooks. She also traveled whenever possible, and taught English in South America.
In addition to writing for young adults, Diana writes short stories and essays, which have been published in a variety of magazines and literary journals.
When she’s not writing, Diana enjoys bicycling and taiko drumming.