Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Published on July 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Crime, Suspense, Young Adult
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Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story. Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist! LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist. CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . . Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other. Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.
Described as Ocean’s Eleven meets star-crossed lovers and I was in. First I love me a good heist story. The last book I read that had a heist feel was Six of Crows and I LOVED it so I went into this one excited and ready to be entertained and I sure enough was.
We have the POVS of our two star-crossed loves, Lexi the rich girl who with her friends keep pushing and creating these adrenaline filled dares. Her life is a mess since her father was arrested. I liked that she was a girl of her means of course, she liked nice things sure but she was also self-aware and didn’t come across as too entitled. Christian on the other hand is from a very poor family in the center of gang territory. He and his friends have managed to stay out of the gang as a member but given the circumstances of their life they have been roped into doing bank jobs for the gang. He studies hard and wants out, he wants a better life for himself and his family but breaking out of the neighborhood and the thin ties with the gang are not that easy. Christian for me a bit jaded and had a chip on his shoulder for sure but he didn’t let it rule him. The most important thing for me in dual POV books is to make sure that each POV has a distinct voice and this did that for sure.
Both Lexi and Christian were working with their own people doing their own things when their paths collide. Literally. The dynamic of the relationship from the start is a mix between chemistry and distrust. They both have their group of friends, people they would do anything for so they understand that but fundamentally their lives and agendas are different. Robbing banks may give you an adrenaline rush but it’s much more serious than breaking in to buildings to BASE jump off the top.
Christian is without a doubt facing a harsher reality than Lexi. She is seeking the truth, uncovering all the details of what had her father arrested. Christian is seeking a better life and to stay alive. While the two circumstances are vastly different it’s easy to see that for Lexi and living how she has her whole life her situation feels like the worst thing that can happen, with nothing to compare it to. I liked the duality of the worlds, high end posh and low income gang territory.
There was no insta-love happening. There was insta-attraction that leads to getting to know one another. Some flirtation and romance was present but it wasn’t the focus and while I was rooting to see what would develop between two characters of such different backgrounds and with the same trust issues it didn’t consume the storyline.
Some aspects of the storyline seem insane verging on the unbelievable, teens able to pull things like this off but I could roll with it. Besides, as I’ve never robbed a bank or went undercover I can’t speak from experience. Having worked in the 911 field however I can easily say some people make themselves easy victims by leaving stuff out or doors unlocked. I don’t commend crime and want to hope for the best in others but I also won’t leave my vehicle unlocked with the keys inside and expect it to still be there the next day. Just saying. I can see it.
That said, overall it was a quick read and one that had me entertained until the end. I was shocked at times, which in itself, surprised me. I love a good crime show – Criminal Minds and Dexter being favorites of mine – clearly, I like to root for the good guy and the bad guy, so this was right up my alley. I did have the urge to watch some heist movies when I finished reading, as it put me in that mood; I always call that a win. So if the concept sounds interesting to you and you enjoy heists then I would give this one a chance to grab you.
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