Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn

Title: Tokyo Heist
Author: Diana Renn
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release date: June 14th 2012
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary YA; mystery
Source: Bought
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Sixteen-year-old Violet loves reading manga and wearing scarves made from kimono fabric, so she’s thrilled that her father’s new painting commission means a summer trip to Japan. But what starts as an exotic vacation quickly turns into a dangerous treasure hunt.
Her father’s client, the wealthy Yamada family, is the victim of a high-profile art robbery. Someone has stolen van Gogh sketches from the Yamadas’ Seattle mansion, and is holding them hostage until the Yamadas can produce the corresponding van Gogh painting. The problem is that nobody knows where this painting is hidden, and until they find it, all of their lives are in danger. Violet’s search for the missing van Gogh takes her from the Seattle Art Museum, to the yakuza-infested streets of Tokyo, to a secluded inn in Kyoto. As the mystery deepens, Violet’s not sure whom she can trust.
But she knows one thing: she has to find the painting and the criminals—before it’s too late.
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I wanted to love this book - the concept sounds cute and fun. But there were just too many things that bugged me, so Tokyo Heist ended up being pretty hard for me to get through.

When I first read the description, I thought I'd love all the stuff about Japanese culture because it's such a unique backdrop for a YA novel. And I did like finding out stuff about Japan. A friend of mine is kind of obsessed with all things Japanese, and it was fun seeing things she'd told me about in this novel. But after a while, it got too much. I lost track of all the Japanese terms, and it just got annoying. The same thing goes for everything related to art and manga - it was interesting in the beginning, but I got bored by it towards the end.

I know not every book has to be character-driven, but characters are what make books worthwhile for me, and I was not a fan of the ones in Tokyo Heist. Violet is a flat main character - she's the typical quiet girl we've read about a million times, the only thing making her stand out being the manga. It also bugged me how immature Violet is - she's sixteen, but she acts younger, and her immaturity and naivete had me rolling my eyes quite a few times. The rest of the characters don't have real personalities, either, they're just kind of... there.

I was expecting a fun, fast-paced mystery, but that's not what I got from Tokyo Heist. The mystery somehow managed to be both predictable and confusing - it was predictable because the villain was obvious from the start, and confusing because there were so many minor details that I found hard to keep track of, although the latter might have been because I read the book so slowly. Either way, the story dragged on, and the mystery bored me.

Then there's the romance. To be honest, I thought that whole storyline was unnecessary. It's the predictable girl-liking-her-best-friend story we've all already read countless times. Don't get me wrong - I love romances like that, when they're done well. But there was nothing unique or entertaining about this one. I don't think the book needed romance at all; it felt kind of forced on the story.

What frustrated me most, though, was the plausibility of it all - as in, there is none. None of this is believable; everything is just too convenient for Violet, for everything to work out and make her the star who solved it all. The details don't add up, and when things aren't realistic, it bugs me. A lot.

I know my review sounds really negative, but it's not all terrible. If you just read through it quickly, I guess it could've been kind of fun. But seeing as it took me weeks to get through because I've just had no time to read, it dragged on, and I didn't end up enjoying it. I also feel like Tokyo Heist is geared more towards the younger set of YA readers because of the immaturity of the main character. It could be a cute read for younger YAs, but it wasn't for me.


  1. Sorry you didn't like this one! I'd been mildly interested in it.

    I really think it's a shame that so many authors force romance into novels when it isn't necessary. It's become a requirement for almost every YA novel, it seems.

    Bummer about the characters, too. :(

  2. I think I'll be taking this off my reading list. I thought it would be great. Thank you for your review.


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