Thursday, June 14, 2012
14 June 2012, Penguin Young Readers
Also reviewed at Young Adult Books Central
Violet loves reading and drawing manga, and is not happy that her mother is going away for the summer and dumping her on her father, whom she does not know well. When she finds that her father will be spending the summer in Japan working on a mural for the Yamada's corporation, she feels a little better, especially since her friend Reika is there for the summer as well. Things become complicated when the Yamadas have some sketches supposedly done by Van Gogh stolen from them, and are under pressure to find a painting that once accompanied them. The painting has not been seen since 1987, when the brother of Mr. Yamada bought the works and shortly thereafter committed suicide. There is a yakuza, or mafia, link to these pieces of art, and Violet is convinced that her father is in danger. Can she and Reika find the pieces and art and keep everyone safe? Like Violet's own manga character, Kimono Girl, they probably can, but not until after a lot of adventure in Japan.
Strengths: Very good use of setting and culture in the mystery. There are a lot of students interested in manga, and this would certainly appeal to them. Anyone who liked Carter's Heist Society of Runholdt's Mystery of the Third Lucretia will love this one.
Weaknesses: Violet didn't gel as much as a character for me. Perhaps there was just so much going on?