Monday, 8 April 2013

Review: Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike

Title: Life After Theft
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Release date: April 30th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary (with a bit of paranormal)
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss

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.

A beautifully-written, humourous and intriguing novel, Life After Theft reminded me of just how much I love Aprilynne Pike's writing. I fell in love with her Wings series, and though this one is poles apart from those books, I absolutely loved it. I've never read anything like it before, and I found the originality very pleasing.

Life After Theft is written in Jeff's perspective, and it begins on his first day of school, when he sees a girl lying in the hallway who no one else can see. Kimberlee is psyched to meet someone who can actually see her, after over a year of being completely invisible. She's stayed back on Earth for a reason - she has to take care of some unfinished business. And she needs Jeff to help her. Meanwhile, Jeff is falling for a beautiful redhead called Serafina, but what he doesn't know is that she's hiding some huge secrets from her past. And those secrets have to come out eventually, because they're connected to Kimberlee. Jeff is torn between keeping his promise to Kimberlee and keeping the girl he loves, wondering how to balance the two of them.

I read One Day More - the Life After Theft prequel novella - prior to reading this book, so I knew a little but more about Kimberlee's life as a kleptomaniac. I recommend reading the novella before this, because it really will help you understand Kim, and maybe even empathize with her. Kimberlee comes off as mean and spiteful in Life After Theft, but I liked her despite that, because I knew where she was coming from. Even though Kimberlee's dead for the entire novel, she does develop a lot, post-life. Kimberlee learns a lot more from Jeff than he learns from her. Initially snarky and nasty to Jeff, she slowly grows to appreciate what he's doing for her, and at the same time she becomes a better person. It's ironic that this happens after she's dead, but better late than never, right?

I liked how Jeff is different from typical YA boys nowadays. He's not a bad boy - the complete opposite, in fact. He's as good as they come. And Kimberlee has her work cut out for her as she tries to make him fit in with her old friends. I admire the fact that Jeff has his head on straight, and has a firm sense of right and wrong. Sure, he makes a few mistakes, but he does learn from them. Jeff is smitten with Sera, and his charms soon endear him to her. They begin a relationship, but somewhere along the way, Sera starts acting weird, and Jeff doesn't know what to do about it. He also has to focus on what to do about Kimberlee. They have a sort of love-hate relationship throughout the novel. Jeff agrees to help her only because they believe that Kim will move on after all the stuff she stole in her life is returned to the people they belonged to. Another thing I loved about Jeff is his sense of humour. It never failed to make an appearance, whether in the form of sarcasm or just a random thought to himself. This one in particular made me laugh out loud!

“Jeff! Look at you!” my mom gushed. “You look like Ryan Seacrest.”
Was that a compliment?

I wasn't sure if I liked Sera, Jeff's girlfriend, in this book. She seemed nice at the beginning, but her animosity towards Kimberlee annoyed me. At first I thought it was baseless, and I was totally on Kimberlee's side. But then we find out what exactly Kimberlee did to her to make Sera hate her so much, and I was appalled! I think Sera's really good for Jeff, since she keeps him focused, and plus, she rescued him at his first high school party. I liked how the tables turned there - the guy gets too drunk and the girl has to rescue him, rather than the other way round! Even though I didn't really get over my initial dislike of Sera, I admire how much she loves her brother, Khail, and how loyal she is to him. She was willing to turn herself in and get expelled so that he wouldn't meet the same fate, and that's some pretty powerful sibling love.

What I loved most about Life After Theft was the thrill I got while reading it! Every time Jeff, Khail, and the guys on the wrestling team returned a bunch of stuff to students and teachers without getting caught, I felt like I was in on the heist. Or anti-heist. This book is filled with suspense, and my heart was in my mouth during most of the novel. Even though the ending was quite abrupt and I was expecting a bit more there, I think it was an amazing and supernatural-ish ending, which gave me tingles as I finished the page. Overall, I'd definitely recommend this book to, well, everyone! It's so well-written, and it's light and intense at the same time. The plot is awesome, and it flows really well. This is a standalone novel, but I wouldn't mind it if Aprilynne Pike decided to write a sequel!

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eGalley for review*

Rating: 4/5

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