Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn

Hi all!

I'm really on roll with reviews lately!

Author: Diana Renn
Title: Tokyo Heist
Release date: 14th of June 2013
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: YA, Detective
Published by: Penguin Group (USA) Inc
Imprint: Speak
Pages: 384 pages in paperback format
Source: Bought from the Bookdepository


When sixteen-year-old Violet agrees to spend the summer with her father, an up-and-coming artist in Seattle, she has no idea what she's walking into. Her father's newest clients, the Yamada family, are the victims of a high-profile art robbery: van Gogh sketches have been stolen from their home, and, until they can produce the corresponding painting, everyone's lives are in danger--including Violet's and her father's. 

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 thickens, Violet's not sure whom she can trust. But she knows one thing: she has to solve the mystery--before it's too late.


This book is the perfect example where theoretically I think nothing is terribly wrong and the premise promises an exciting read full of Japanese culture goodness and a detective story is always a win for me. Nevertheless, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected, not at all.

This is a good book, intriguing, well thought out and quite original, plus it has Japan as one of the settings and goes much deeper in exploring Japanese culture than other contemporaries I’ve read having this country as a background. The local vocabulary used, customs showcased, traits highlighted, etc all vividly express the uniqueness of the country and its people. Still, the book didn’t fully take off for me. 

Well, the mystery part was certainly puzzling and I was eager to find out whodunit, but the path there wasn’t that gripping or exciting, even though, I have to admit it was interestingly and smartly built up and revealed, not your average just connect the dots for children. There was tension, buildup and a great culmination, but I wasn’t as invested as I would have liked to have been. And I can’t completely explain why, because as mentioned, nothing was completely off or hindering it to turn out an extremely positive reading experience.

I think one of the main reasons causing the book not to fully hold together for me was Violet the heroine. She was kind of dull and this despite being determined, curious and active and me liking her hobby of creating her own manga. I simply didn’t feel a spark in her, whatever that exactly may be. The romance was also lacking for me, it felt like an afterthought than something I’d root for. I was, however, quite fond of Reika, her dad and Yoshi! The relationship between Violet and her dad was interesting, he came across a teenager himself on various occasions and Violet the mature on, but they made a unique combination of a father-daughter relationship.

Some positive stuff:
I didn’t have any issues with the probability or how realistic the plot was. I totally bought it, almost entirely; I didn’t really feel that this was a complete fairy tale. This part of the plot was very well written or I just didn’t focus on it.

The handling of the topic of art in general in this book was great, it completely revolved around it in its various formats and everything related.

The pace was fast and there was always something going on or always something about to happen. I liked the tension created in the case of the missing painting.

I would strongly recommend this to younger teens, this would be an educational and exciting read. 


Violet – As already mentioned she fell flat for me. Then again there wasn’t really anything major I could point out. Maybe she just got overrun by the detective plot, she wasn’t necessary for the mystery to work out, but I think it should be the opposite, the mystery shouldn’t be able to work without her specifically. I don’t know if it even makes sense, but the story should revolve around the main character not the art theft case. Yes, they depend on each other, but the characters should make the story. I was more interested in the case than her. I may be babbling nonsense at this moment…


It had so much promise, already for the Japanese setting and elements I was ready to love this to bits, but sometimes I over anticipate something or it simply doesn’t meet my sky-high expectations. Nevertheless, as already said, I wasn’t the right audience for it, but I bet a lot of others are.

3 stars!



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