Book Info: YA Mystery, Review copy provided by DAC ARC tours, Avail. in HC 384 pg.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Debut author Diana Renn’s Tokyo Heist is a blast to read and is full of adventure, culture and mystery. I think a wide range of readers will fall for this one, whether they are manga obsessed like the main character Violet, follow Japanese culture, have an interest in art or just enjoy a good mystery. All of those things made the book a fast read for me and I had fun trying to solve the mystery and following along with Violet’s comic The Adventures of Kimono Girl.
Violet is spending the summer with her dad in Seattle, a fact the distracted artist seems to have forgotten. When he gets a job painting a mural in Tokyo though, Violet is over the moon. Her friend Reika is already in Tokyo spending the summer and it’s always been her dream to visit there so she’s psyched to go. But this work and sightseeing trip turns into an art heist investigation when some priceless Van Gogh sketches are stolen from her dad’s art patrons the Yamada’s. Violet needs to help find the missing Van Gogh painting the thieves demand before bodily harm comes to her or her loved ones. And the yakuza (mafia) are involved so this is serious business. The investigation takes them from Seattle to Tokyo to Kyoto in this whodunit mystery.
Violet is a great character that I think many will relate to. She has some friendship drama with her best friend Edge who she’s started to have increasingly romantic feelings for. Also, her relationship with her dad is a little rocky and he never seems to have time for her. She does have a lot going for her though and she’s resourceful, smart and artistic. She’s a likable heroine and I enjoyed seeing her confidence grow throughout the book. One thing that would have made her story even better is if her Kimono Girl sketches were included in the book. I really want to see them or perhaps a companion Kimono Girl graphic novel. Violet is always sketching and working on her book, putting her feelings into her work and I found that very endearing about her.
Travel and culture are almost character’s themselves in the book. If you have any interest in Japanese culture at all you will find this story fascinating. I’ve always been interested in Tokyo and so this book was a treat for me to explore the city through the shopping, dining and art Violet experiences.
The romance is very light in the book, so I can see this book appealing to a wide age group from middle school age to adult. The story reminded me a lot of Ally Carter’s Heist Society actually, not a bad thing at all. Wish there were more books like Tokyo Heist – the culture, art, friendship and family issues, and mystery make it a standout in today’s YA landscape. Look for Tokyo Heist to hit shelves June 14.