Review: Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike

Author: Aprilynne Pike
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 352 (ARC)
Source: Trade
Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich-kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a klepto.

No one can see or hear Kimberlee except Jeff, so--in hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history--he agrees to help her complete her "unfinished business." But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff's new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he's made the right choice.

Clash meets sass in this uproarious modern-day retelling of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I'm struggling to properly describe this book. Think...John Tucker Must Die.And please, nobody act like you don't know what movie that is because everyone secretly knows what movie that is. You know how it's based off of a totally ludicrous plot-line that cannot be further from reality, but it's executed in such a spectacularly entertaining manner that you love the movie, the cast, and everything about it? Yeah, this is just like that. The plot is nuts, the characters are nuts, everything is nuts, but it's perfectly nuts. I loved every minute of it (and I'm not ashamed to admit it). It brings about the warm fuzzies and the kind of one-liners equivalent to Mean Girls. And, damn, am I happy to say that it's been a while since a book made me crack up so hard. Then again, this is Mrs. Pike we are talking about. I adored her Wings series, so I've bent over backwards in anticipation for this book, and I jumped with joy when I was able to get my hands on it.

This book is written from a male perspective, which Pike nailed. Jeff''s a genuinely nice guy, but he does have the concerns a-typical for a male teenager. However, they're not overpowering. He's no jerk, but he's no jock. He's a realistic nerdy kid who went from a poor lifestyle to a wealthy one, and he's just trying to fit in. I loved every minute of his characterization, his thoughts, his attempts to fit in only to come full circle and realize he likes himself the way he is without the necessity to drink himself into oblivion. Really, I just loved him. He is perhaps one of the most realistic male protagonists written by a female that I have come across in a while. What a great feat by Pike.

And his wonderful characterization sets us up for Kimberlee's insane characterization and the plot that she brings on. See, Kimberlee's a ghost. She died over a year ago in the riptide on the private beach in her posh mansion, mysteriously ending a ring of thefts that haunted her rich neighborhood for quite a while. To put it's simply, while alive she was a witch with a capital "B." And some of that has translated into her ghostly self. She's controlling, manipulative, rude, and mean. She lies, she schemes, but she has a heart buried somewhere deep. This is her story of redemption. When Jeff moves to town, she realizes that he is the first person ever that can see her. And with him, she believes, comes her freedom. She takes him to a cave hidden on her property and inside that cave, alphabetized, bagged, and dated is every item she has ever stolen. It's his job to return everything to their rightful owners since she can't touch it all. Logic says that if she makes amends and gives it all back, she can move on instead of continuing on in her hellish reality where her only friend is a nerd named Jeff (who I still like very much). Nutty, right?

But the plot gets better when Jeff's attempts to return everything slowly causes the town to question who the original string of thefts belongs to. And at the same time he gains unlikely allies, makes unwanted enemies, and somehow finds true love in Sera, the once-broken cheerleader who cheers for her love of gymnastics. But as Sera shows signs of lying and deception, Jeff worries if all women in his life, aside form his Mom, cannot be trusted. Kimberlee, then Sera, who next?

I have to say that I find every aspect of this novel compelling. And I really liked his parents as well. They were there some times and weren't there other times, so they don't exactly fall into the cliche of having missing parents, but I did have a few issues with them. See, Jeff's parents had him while they were still in high school and they got married on the night of their high school graduation. They're young and still in love, so they're naturally laid back. The times they are not in the house are chalked up to their romantic weekend getaways they take to keep their romance going. So, yes, I liked that their disappearances were explained. And I liked how they were laid back, they trusted Jeff and his true intentions even when there was a small issue where a Cop was wrongfully called. But they're perhaps a little too laid back. When it comes to the topic of losing one's virginity, his Mom was content and even smiled at the mention of his girlfriend having condoms. And this is where there believability went completely out the window for me. They seemed okay accepting. He mentioned that they had him young, so they can't have a problem. They needed to put an iron fist down in this scenario instead of being so laid back, you know? They accepted the entire "I love her and it's the right time and place thing." Even if I gave my parents that spiel and they approved of the guy I was dating, if they caught me red-handed I'd be grounded for life. I was so thankful to have a set of parents that I found to be real, only to realize that they weren't really strict parents. To me, in that instant, I realized their ideals were slightly screwy and they had me rolling my eyes a little. Really, the only plot point I had issues with, but it led the way for some unbelievable interactions between parents and son that made my nose scrunch up enough to dock half a star.

All in all, I highly recommend this book. However, it is to slightly mature young adult readers. There's mentions of homosexuality and drugs. There's death, the mention of suicidal thoughts, and one instance of partying and getting drunk. And from the above paragraph you can infer there's one instance of sex, though not detailed at all. I loved this book, and I can't imagine anyone else disliking it. I have never read a book with a klepto in it before and Pike's great detail in regards to Kimberlee's weakness makes me curious about what other amazing and unique stories she can turn out. Once again, Pike has managed to blow me away.
 


4.5 stars

~*~Links~*~

5 comments:

  1. I liked this one too. And I hadn't though of the book in terms of John Tucker must die -- I agree that the plot was a little farfetched, but that the story was enjoyable.

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

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  2. I feel EXACTLY the same way. Totally ridiculous plot and sequence of events, but it read like Mean Girls and John Tucker Must Die (perfect comparison) that I didn't care one bit. I loved it even more. I hadn't paid much attention to his parents, but I can see what you mean about them. They kind of reminded me of the parents on Awkward, that MTV show :)

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  3. I wasn't sure this would be for me but you have convinced me otherwise. Sounds really interesting! thanks for changing my mind:)

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  4. I need to get my hands on a copy of this book!

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  5. At first I had no interest in this book, then I found out what it was about and I put it on my TBR list. Then I took it back off after several bad reviews. Now I think it's going back on :) I haven't read any of Pike's books but I did just buy one so I will soon!

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