How to Lead a Life of Crime

How to Lead a Life of Crime

3.5 7
by Kirsten Miller
     
 

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A Meth Dealer. A  Prostitute. A Serial Killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has

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Overview

A Meth Dealer. A  Prostitute. A Serial Killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame.
They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ever since running away from military school, 17-year-old Flick has been making ends meet as a thief on the streets of New York City; his eventual goal is to avenge the death of his brother. After a heist, Flick is recruited to join the prestigious Mandel Academy, a private school whose actual purpose is to train kids in everything from extortion to murder. Flick sees this as a chance to hone his skills and gain access to his abusive criminal father (who is on the board of directors), but he gets caught up in internal politics, especially after some of his fellow students die during training. Miller (The Eternal Ones) is fully aware that she’s making use of some familiar clichés and tropes (Flick calls the school “Hogwarts for hustlers,” at one point), but she keeps every character—from Flick’s Faginesque girlfriend to the calculating head of the school—grounded and believable, giving the story’s horrors substantial impact. The resulting book often violently belies its cute title, in ways that will have readers racing to the end. Ages 14–up. Agent: William Morris Endeavor. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"Miller pens an enjoyable, fast-paced action novel that's full of danger, mystery, humor and violence, with lots of gross-out scenes and plenty of hairpin-turn plot twists that will keep readers guessing. An enigmatic page turner full of intrigue." -Kirkus

"This will grab teen readers just as Miller's Kiki Strike books grabbed middle-grade students. A thick, satisfying read that ought to keep readers up late." -Booklist

"Miller keeps every character grounded and believable, giving the story's horrors substantial impact. The resulting book often belies its cute title, in ways that will have readers racing to the end." -PW

"Miller has created a fantastic devil's snare, wherein the typical plotline of teens taking on a corrupt regime is given a new and exhilarating spin." -VOYA (starred review)

Children's Literature - Caitlin Marineau
Hardened teenager Flick is living on the streets of New York, having run away from his wealthy but abusive father, whom Flick believes caused the death of his younger brother, Jude. When Flick is abruptly recruited off the street into his father’s alma mater, the prestigious Mandel Academy, the school known for creating bankers, politicians, and other powerful people out of kids who seemed destined for lives of petty crime, Flick is wary. When the head of the school offers Flick a chance at revenge against his father, however, he enrolls, only to discover the school is much more than he bargained for. Far beyond a simple prep school, the Mandel Academy grooms top criminals. At the Academy ruthlessness and cunning are prized, violence accepted, and only the strongest succeed. To survive, Flick has to learn quickly to adapt to the brutal environment, but it might come at the cost of everything he values. Not for the faint-of-heart, Miller’s work is gripping, but includes references to nearly everything from drugs and assault to rape and serial murder. Older teenage fans of works such as The Hunger Games and dark dystopian works will be intrigued by Miller’s suspenseful narrative. Reviewer: Caitlin Marineau; Ages 14 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Having run away from his privileged background, Flick survives by being a pickpocket on the streets of New York while planning revenge on his father for the death of his beloved younger brother and his mother's resulting suicide. He has a place to sleep and food to eat thanks to Joi, a mysterious girl who acts as protector to a group of runaways. Flick loves Joi and admires her, though he doesn't understand her generosity; for him, counting on and caring for others is a weakness. After a well-dressed man named Lucian Mandel asks him to break into an apartment and Flick succeeds, Lucian offers the teen a scholarship to the Mandel Academy, promising to give him proof of his father's guilt at graduation. Flick agrees, but has second thoughts when he realizes that the school prepares students to become powerful criminals through training in assassination, drug-dealing, blackmail, etc. He soon realizes that students who do not graduate disappear, permanently. When Mandel enrolls Joi, Flick is willing to give his life to keep her safe and get her out. The subject matter might appeal to reluctant readers, but the intricate plot and length will discourage most. It would also be expected that there would be a gritty realism to the vocabulary, so the constant modification of a certain four letter word into an "expletive deleted" type of format is not only jarring, but irritating. Purchase where the author's other titles are popular.—Suanne B. Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Kirkus Reviews
A teen pickpocket attends a school for the criminally minded. Tough, 17-year-old loner Flick lives on the streets of Manhattan's Lower East Side and makes ends meet by relieving the upper class of their wallets. His only ally is a teen girl named Joi, who operates an underground rescue camp for homeless teens and wields surgical tools like a pro. Enter well-dressed, smooth-talking Lucian Mandel, the headmaster of the infamous Mandel Academy, who makes him an offer he can't refuse: If Flick agrees to enroll in Mandel Academy, Lucian will hand over the evidence that connects Flick's wealthy father to the murder of his brother. Flick agrees, and he soon finds himself immersed in a student body of teen sociopathic murderers, liars, thieves and embezzlers--all embroiled in a violent race to the top of the class. Miller pens an enjoyable, fast-paced action novel that's full of danger, mystery, humor and violence, with lots of gross-out scenes and plenty of hairpin-turn plot twists that will keep readers guessing. Her only misstep in this exciting read is an overdose of references to Barrie's Peter Pan, but readers will still make the right connections to the characters and probably devour the novel in one setting. An enigmatic page turner full of intrigue. (Adventure. 14 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595146496
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
02/20/2014
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
260,658
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Miller pens an enjoyable, fast-paced action novel that's full of danger, mystery, humor and violence, with lots of gross-out scenes and plenty of hairpin-turn plot twists that will keep readers guessing. An enigmatic page turner full of intrigue." -Kirkus

"This will grab teen readers just as Miller's Kiki Strike books grabbed middle-grade students. A thick, satisfying read that ought to keep readers up late." -Booklist

"Miller keeps every character grounded and believable, giving the story's horrors substantial impact. The resulting book often belies its cute title, in ways that will have readers racing to the end." -PW

"Miller has created a fantastic devil's snare, wherein the typical plotline of teens taking on a corrupt regime is given a new and exhilarating spin." -VOYA (starred review)

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