Carter, Ally. Perfect Scoundrels.
5 February 2013, Hyperion Books for Children
Kat is back, but there's sad news-- Hale's beloved grandmother Hazel has died. She's put him in charge of Hale Enterprises, but Garrett is overseeing the company until Hale turns 25. There's something fishy with the will-- Hazel completely ignored Marcus' wife, her long time ladies' maid, which is unlike her. When Marcus asks Ally to help out, her entire family is drawn in to the scheme to recover the real will, since Garrett is intent on destroying the company by sabotaging their newest invention and then trying to sell it to a rival corporation in China. Of course, such a plot involves traveling all over the world. There's some tension between Kat and Hale, since he takes her interest in the will to mean she thinks he shouldn't run the company. Will they be able to save Hale Enterprises? What will be the price?
Strengths: ADORE this series!!! There is also a free short story available through Ally Carter's Web Site, Double Crossed, that has the Gallagher girls meeting Kat and Hale! The travel is fantastic, the characters are all interesting, and now I want to be an international jewel thief. NO ONE would suspect me. Let's take up a collection right now so that all of Ms. Carter's housework can be done by someone else, so Ms. Carter can do nothing but write 24/7. (She can sleep a little, I guess, and travel for research!)
Weaknesses: The main character is not a middle aged middle school librarian from the Midwest.
Salane, Jeffrey. Lawless
1 April 2013, Scholastic
Copy recieved from YA Books Central and reviewed there.
M has an interview for the Lawless school, which she might as well attend, since her father has passed away and her mother is too busy running an art business to spend much time with her. She is accepted at once and whisked off to the school, but the place she is in is attacked by the evil Fulbrights. She manages, with a little radio help and some pyschotropic drugs, to land the plane. Once at the school, she finds out that she is there because her father was a famous art thief, and she distinguishes herself immediately by crawling through the ventilation system and dropping through the ceiling at the first assembly, right onto the stage. A school for thieves is a dangerous place, but M manages to make a few friends and work on her crime skills. When she is accepted into the elite group of Masters, she has an assignment-- still one of the paintings in a set by Rembrandt that her father had tried to find. Her mother is missing, presumably taken by the Fulbrights, and M must get help from her roommate Zara, and from other unlikely sources, to figure out what her next step will be.
Strengths: Any book that has a young teen hurtling through the Chunnel and driving around France with stolen art at her side is great. This had lots of specifics on criminal training, lots of infighting among students, and adventure galore. There's been a recent resurgence in popularity of series like Walden's H.I.V.E. and Jink's Evil Genius, so this will be great for those students.
Weaknesses: While I will have plenty of readers for this, I didn't like it personally. There wasn't an identifiable plot until about half way through, and I felt no connection at all to M-- she had no personality. Unlike The Cloak Society, I didn't feel there was a good reason for the school to be evil, or for M to embrace this way of life. The action was good, but it failed for me in a lot of other areas.