Publishing Info: February 21, 2013 by Penguin
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 20, 2012
A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer.
Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.
Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?
Wow, so this book was definitely quite a bit different than I expected, but in a really good way. I guess I can’t really put it into any sort of box – It’s actually really hard to say what genres it even falls into. It was more mature than YA (definitely not suitable for the younger teens) but since the characters are teenagers, I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable calling it NA or Adult. It’s got a realism to it, but I almost feel like I could call it a kind of a dystopian, but not the way we normally think of it. Let me explain: Mandel Academy has sot of a struggle to find a utopian balance among the students, but at the same time any quest that’s a step towards their “ideal” society is totally messed up so it’s like an ideal insane society.
Anyway. As crazy as it all was, I loved it. I followed all of the twisty twists and got really into the characters and their stories. I usually find myself not relating to a male main character as well as female main characters, but Flick isn’t your average main character. He’s got some demons that he carries around with him and dark secrets from his past. The whole reason he gets into the twisted halls of Mandel is not only his penchant for lifting wallets but he’s also in the business of revenge – Anything he can do to get revenge on his father, whatever he decides that may be. I really found myself connecting with him, latching onto his beliefs, and rooting for him to figure out the right path.
I really enjoyed the story line and how things about Flick as well as the secrets about the school are revealed to us little by little. I was definitely captivated – much more than I thought I would be when I first started — and I found myself racing to finish. The ending brought around a few interesting plot turns that I didn’t see coming, including a “WHAT!?” moment.
This is definitely a book that revolves around the dark, the sinister, and the gruesome so if you’re looking for an upbeat or romantic story, this isn’t it. Be prepared that it’s pretty gritty and not for the faint of heart — We are reading a story about criminals and the people who are training teens to become well-rounded criminals as well. Even though I love a good rom-com, for some reason I find myself drawn to the creepy and sinister from time to time and this book just hit the spot for that niche. At times it almost had a Dark Knight/Batman feel to it and other times it felt a lot like DIVERGENT but with the character connections and action scenes that I had never found with the DIVERGENT series.
Flick: I was surprised at how well I connected with Flick’s character. Even through the deep-seeded thoughts of revenge and his tendency to lean to “the dark side” I really got to love Flick. I think the readers really get to make a good connection with him and get really invested in his mission. Usually I don’t connect with male main characters as well as I do with female MCs (just the way it goes) but I really liked Flick and his story totally hooked me.
Flick’s father: I was actually super intrigued by Flick’s dad and what had actually happened in his past to make Flick so desperate for revenge. I love how that thread slowly unwound and we get to see many different sides of Flick’s father (at least that’s how I felt) and exactly what his intentions were towards his two sons and his wife.
Wow, this was a really interesting book! Different from what I was expecting but that was in a good way. It was very thrilling and definitely captivating!