Tag Archives: How to Lead a Life of Crime

Discusson: Communication Breakdown

So I need to talk to you guys about something. Lately, I’ve been having some issues as far as genres go for the books that I’m reading. I just read a great post from The Housework Can Wait about clarifying the proper definition of each genre (and it’s great – you should go check it out!) but I’m talking about something a little different.

Lately I’ve been have problems where I pick up a book thinking in falls into one type of genre and turns out, it has a twist that crosses the line into a second genre. What’s my issue with this? I go into the book thinking it’s going to be one thing and then I almost feel betrayed when this plot twist pops up and completely changes the whole feel of the story.


Okay. First things first. I in no way mean to bash these books or these authors!!! They’re actually really great works, but the genre confusion that I personally felt directly affected my comprehension and overall opinion. I would never say don’t read these and actually there were a lot of things that I did like about them, but there were just some things I did not see coming and for some reason, it left a sour taste in my mouth.

(Please note, I’m going to mention some specific books, so if you don’t want any mild spoilers (I’m only talking about genres, not plot) look away!)

So am I to blame for this confusion? Did I bring this upon myself? Well, yeah, sometimes. I’m the kind of person who hates spoilers SO MUCH that I will avoid reading a full summary on Goodreads OR on the dust jacket OR a full blog review because I have that big of an averson to spoilers. Just the tiniest thing gives away part of the plot and then the lead-up to it isn’t exciting anymore. So yes, I’m partially to blame. SOMETIMES.

Time When I Was To Blame: LEVEL 2. 
LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans. I actually enjoyed the book – I did – but why did I think that this was more of a dystopian book? Well, first off – the cover. Right up until I actually received the book, I thought that girl on the cover was wielding a sword and not just slouched over. (Because how cool would that be?) I had started it by thinking of Felicia as caught in Level 2 in an almost sci-fi/dystopian way more so than, “Hey. She’s in the afterlife. Maybe that issue’s gonna come up, huh?” It never once crossed my mind that religion would be tied into this book or that we’d even be talking about a limbo between Heaven and Hell (I know. Don’t ask why that thought didn’t cross my mind). True, it still does have kind of a futuristic feel a lot of the time, actually, but there’s that … how can I put it? Sacredly paranormal aspect that somehow I just never thought of.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? I got mad at this book. It kind of took a twist I wasn’t expecting which dove more into the “sacred paranormal” (pardon my improper terminology) and I was actually frustrated with how much religion was tied into the book because well, that’s just not my thing. I went to a Catholic school for 10 years and somehow that turned me off to religion instead of strengthening my faith. Go figure. So I almost ruined parts of it for myself because that twist wasn’t blatantly obvious (to me. Somehow).

BUT other times, that second genre is not mentioned. I’ve checked. I went back and looked through the summaries and if I hadn’t read the book yet, I wouldn’t have known at all. There were the tiniest of hints that I wouldn’t have picked up on when reading just the description and boy, did that twist take my by surprise.

Time When Twists Are To Blame: DANCE OF SHADOWS (this one’s probably a mild spoiler. Maybe)
So I’ve heard quite a few mixed reviews about DANCE OF SHADOWS. Just check out the reviews on Goodreads – they’re seriously all over the place – So I wasn’t quite sure where I would fall in line with that. Usually when the reviews are all over the place, I tend to fall on the side that doesn’t like the book, but I still wanted to give it a shot. So I did. I started it and all the ballet lingo totally reminded me of Center Stage. When it started to turn darker, it reminded me of what I picture Black Swan to be like (anyone seen it? Is that accurate?) and I was like, “Wow this is interesting!” I was actually digging the beginning and I loved the mystery. Keyword: mystery. I was thinking this was about Vanessa going back to school to investigate her sister’s disappearance. BUT there’s a twist (which I will not divulge) that’s a definitely genre change-up and I was just put-off by it.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? To be fair (or maybe unfair) there were already things about the book that were kind of annoying me, so once the this plot twist came along and totally switched the genre on me, I wasn’t happy. For some people, I bet they’d be like “Whoa, that was an awesome twist in this story! I totally didn’t see that coming!” And that’s where I got upset. I totally didn’t see that coming. Because of that, it seemed like a far reach to me and made the end a little too cheesy instead of totally awesome. *shrugs* I feel that that’s the make-or-break factor of the story and the people who are coming up with great reviews liked it and the people who end up with disappointed reviews obviously didn’t. Like I said, that wasn’t the only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me, but that’s to discuss later in my review!


Now. There are also times when the mix of genres turns out to be TOTALLY AWESOME. Three different genres? Four different genres? SURE. YES PLEASE. And other cases where there I totally misinterpreted the genre, but the book was so much better than what I thought it was supposed to be!

Time When I Mixed It Up… But It Was Even Better! HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME
If you guys haven’t read HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME, I highly recommend it. When I first read the summary, it said that it was a school for the criminals – A place to learn the darker sides of life and to fit in with other kids in a world where you never fit in before. For some reason, the way it was worded, I thought it was going to be a superhero-type story. Maybe it was the cover (sheesh, apparently that has a lot to do with how I perceive a book) or just the way the summary was written, but turns out there are no superheroes in this book. We unite with the broken, the corrupt, and the criminally insane and it makes for an amazing and gripping (and violent) story.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? I was actually a little relieved that it wasn’t a superhero story. I loved that all of this was happening in the here and now. Not some dystopian or future world, not where our characters have supernatural powers – This could all really happen and we would never know it. It was exciting, thrilling, and at the same time, horrifying. I absolutely loved it and loved how I felt like this could really happen (although I really, really hope it doesn’t).

The Time Where Tons of Genres Came Together To Form a SUPERBOOK: CINDER
I loved CINDER. Who would have thought? You can say cyborg Cinderella any day and I would never, ever have picked up this book. Thanks to my fellow bloggers, I did, and I’m so happy I listened to them! To me, CINDER was a crazy but perfect mix of genres. There’s the fantasy aspect from the fact that it’s based on a fairy tale, the dystopian element of New Beijing, the sci-fi aspect of cyborgs and androids (and subtle Star Wars references), AND there’s a romance. Phew. That’s a lot, but so perfectly blended that it created one giant ball of AMAZING.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? Clearly, I loved it. The different genres and different feels definitely came together so well and really enhanced the story instead of distracting from it. Now I neeeed to read SCARLET!

Okay friends, now it’s time for some feedback. Has this ever happened to you??? Am I the only person who’s suffered from the phenomenon of genre miscommunications? I can’t wait to hear what you think about my cases and what books you’ve felt this with!

How to Lead a Life of Crime – Kirsten Miller

How to Lead a Life of Crime – Kirsten MillerTitle: How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
Publishing Info: February 21, 2013 by Penguin
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate 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.

addiction_factor1Buy it!

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!