Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: April 30, 2013
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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.
Since I read Aprilynne Pike's Wings when it was first released, I have a soft spot for that series as well as her in general. Though the series had its ups an downs, I enjoyed it immensely and couldn't wait to see what came next. In Life After Theft, Aprilynne Pike brings us a fun yet deep paranormal romance where the plot is unique and compelling. I loved the world she built for us, and though it quickly made a place for itself in my heart.
I really, really like Jeff. He's an enormously entertaining hero with a great sense of humor. He tries to be smooth, but usually ends up being awkward. He's clearly smart, but he still does stupid things, just like any teenage boy. He wants to do the right thing but isn't always willing to go out of his way for it. In short, he's flawed. But it's these flaws that made him so relatable. Someone perfect wouldn't have suited the role he played, and he needed to be a dynamic character, so that's exactly what he was.
THE LOVE INTEREST
I don't know how I feel about Sera, honestly. Firstly, she's kind of underdeveloped. Secondly, Jeff places her on this pedestal which is endlessly irritating. Honestly, if he hadn't done that, I probably would have like her better. But the fact that he insists on seeing her as a perfect angel is really, really freaking frustrating. She's definitely allowed to make mistakes, and be human, and change, but still. Whatever.
Kimberlee is in many ways the focus of this novel, and there are definitely ways one can view her as the heroine if one so desires. Still, not enough development here. She's kind of a word that rhymes with itch, and she doesn't get that much better. She sort of has a revelation at the end, but she doesn't really see the whole picture or even seem to want to change that much. It was kind of a letdown honestly.
I loved how original the plot was. Apparently it is based on The Scarlet Pimpernel, but I have never read that (or even heard of it, shut up) so I can't really compare, but I thought everything worked out nicely and there weren't any major similarities to works I'd read before.
The main problem I had is that I feel like Kimberlee was shoved into the backseat a lot. A lot of the story revolves around her, but it's like she exploded and is a black hole and everything is being sucked into it even though she's not there. Sorry, am I being confusing? I suck at this metaphors stuff. Ugh.
Anyway, I did it was well executed otherwise. Though Kimberlee should have been in her own story more, Jeff does a fantastic job of taking over. He wants her gone, so he agrees to help her, but it turns into more than that. Secrets that cannot be reburied are uncovered, and Jeff finds love and friendships in his new town. He also learns several lessons. The hard way.
Another thing I loved about this book is that the parents actually exist! There are so many absentee parents in YA these days and it's really frustrating because most teenagers have parents/guardians that actually pay attention to what they do. Sure, Jeff's parents are pretty chill parents. But they still punish him for his mistakes, and they definitely have a role to play, however minor. Sera's mother is also a significant figure although I feel her personality didn't match her actions.
This book was the perfect mix of heavy lessons and lighthearted fun that got my blood pumping and my head spinning.
Not a huge fan of this romance, honestly. I loved Aprilynne's Wings romance, which is probably a large part of why I was so disappointed by this one. Not only did Sera annoy me, but the instant attraction just for whatever reason didn't work for me here. I never felt any spark between Jeff and Sera and I don't even know what was going on with Kimberlee's feelings. It was boring and unrealistic and I didn't like it.
If you compare Aprilynne's writing from Wings to Life After Theft, the improvement is visible. It was always pleasant, but the quality is clearly better now and that is something I both love and appreciate. Jeff has a distinct voice, and though he's often biased he manages to tell the story. I feel like there should be more adjective use in some places, less in others, but overall I like the feel of it.
The ending was perfect. Super, super gutsy, especially for a standalone. I most definitely did not expect it to end the way it did but I loved, loved, loved it. There is no way it could have ended better. It's definitely a risk, and I'm sure it'll be greeted by mixed feelings, but personally I thought it was the only right way to end this novel.
I really enjoyed Life After Theft, though it didn't have the allure for me that Aprilynne's Wings series did. Even so, I did feel it was definitely worth the time and I would definitely recommend it to fans of both contemporary and paranormal romance. As for me, I know I'll continue to read Aprilynne's books. I'm really looking forward to her Earthbound series, and wherever she decides to take us after that.
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