Renn’s fun debut takes a kitchen-sink approach, throwing together romance, mystery, and action in a way that echoes the manga that 16-year-old Violet loves to read (and hopes to create herself someday). While spending the summer with her absentminded artist father in Seattle, she finds out about the theft of some van Gogh drawings owned by her father’s patrons, Kenji and Mitsue Yamada. Drawn into the mystery of the theft, she fights with her best friend (and crush) Edge, runs into members of the yakuza, ends up in Japan with her father, and teams up with her friend Reika to search Tokyo and Kyoto for both the van Goghs and the painting they inspired. Renn keeps the action moving briskly, and if she hews to a few clichés (Violet’s manga-inspired “it’s more romantic to hide your feelings” approach to Edge is a prime example), the action, mix of genres, and large cast of characters always keep things interesting. Fans of mysteries and thrillers will enjoy this just as much as fans of Japanese culture. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kirby Kim, William Morris Endeavor. (June)
"This art heist has twists and turns, romance, and the happily-ever-after that many will be rooting for."
A Summer 2012 Kids' Indie Next Pick
"Renn keeps the tension high and the pace moving in a modern, unique whodunit."
"TOKYO HEIST is refreshingly free of most of the standard modern YA-fiction tropes. . . . It's rare for YA heroines to have such specific, developed interests, and Violet filtering her investigation through her passion for manga, art, and Japan makes her seem like a real, relatable teenager."
"A terrific heroine, exciting and unexpected plot twists, and fascinating and beautifully-wrought real-life settings: young adult mysteries do not get better than this."
"Tokyo Heist is a fast-paced, exotic reading adventure, a story where The da Vinci Code meets the wildly popular manga genre! Author Diana Renn infuses protagonist Violet with plenty of chikara (power) and Renn's fresh, spot-on author's voice is irresistible. I couldn't put it down!"
"Fly to the coolest city on earth. Hunt for a missing masterpiece. Battle tattooed gangsters while rocking a kimono. And don't forget to try the shibazuke. Adventures don’t get any more thrilling than Tokyo Heist. You'll want to jump right inside this book and live it."
"Hidden paintings, yakuza assassins, vivid settings, artful intrigue, and a taste of manga make Tokyo Heist an absorbing tale mystery readers will love."
Sixteen-year-old Violet wishes she could magically slip into paintings, solve international mysteries, and escape the disappointments of reality like Kimono Girl, the protagonist in her own manga creation. So when she gets a chance to tag along with her artist father to Japan in the midst of a suspicious Van Gogh art robbery, it is the opportunity for which she has been waiting. Along with her best friend, Reika, the girls set out to uncover the truth of the missing sketches and the history behind a decade-old art feud. From the Seattle Art Museum to Kyoto art conservation, their inquiries drive them into close corners with the Yakuza, Japan's most notorious gang. The mystery becomes even more dangerous when the Yakuza issues an ultimatum: deliver the missing Van Gogh sketches or they will go after Violet's father. Tokyo Heist is a fast-paced and engaging mystery with a spunky protagonist. Since Violet is manga-obsessed, she views the world as scenes from various popular mangas and revisits suspicious events by drawing them into frames for Kimono Girl. Not only do these Kimono Girl interjections clarify the clues for Violet, but for readers as well. Although there are no actual drawings in the book, Diana Renn's writing mirrors a manga in text form. Readers will imagine the story frame by frame, complete with thought bubbles and abrupt emotions. Recommend this to teens who are somewhat familiar with manga or anime jargon. Reviewer: Jane Gov
Gr 7 Up—Violet Rossi, cynical and annoyed with the adults in her life, plans to spend the summer with her artist dad in Seattle. She is a creative, manga-loving 16-year-old who even has a manga alter ego, Kimono Girl. She is excited when her dad's new commission is her ticket to Tokyo for the summer. However, before they leave, his patrons have precious van Gogh drawings stolen from their home, and a yakuza, a Japanese gangster, demands they give him a painting that he thinks they have. When the teen and her dad land in Japan, the danger increases and the gangster threatens to "erase" Violet's dad if he does not receive the painting. Violet is smart and knows a lot about Japanese culture. She starts researching the case, thinking it would be good inspiration for her Kimono Girl manga, but she eventually becomes wrapped up in the mystery. The plot has lots of twists and turns, leaving readers on edge, and a hint of romance (Violet has a crush on her best friend back home). Readers will cheer for Violet as she uses her wits and outsmarts the adults. Teens will learn about Japanese culture, and fans of manga and art students will rejoice that they can relate to the protagonist and story.—Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI
A van Gogh heist, a trip to Japan and a yakuza attack: Could there be a better summer? Violet's an otaku--a comics-loving Japanophile, derided as a "Manga-loid" by her school's mean girls--who draws her own manga and makes scarves out of vintage kimonos. Her dreadful summer plans (working at the comic-book store) are delightfully derailed when she has to join her estranged artist father in Tokyo, where he's been commissioned to paint a mural. But what's this? Her father's employers have been relieved of three van Gogh drawings, and Violet knows just the suspicious characters who might be guilty! The plucky detective investigates in both Seattle and Tokyo, following suspects around town in a tangled blonde wig and deciphering codes incorporated in both art and kanji. Soon the mystery begins to resemble an episode of Violet's own manga, Kimono Girl, complete with dangerous yakuza (Japanese mobsters), blackmail letters and FBI stings. Eagle-eyed Violet's sleuthing is assisted by her keen love of art, from manga to van Gogh to ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints. A proficient caper spiced up by Violet's eye for art. (Fiction. 12-14)
“Dangerous yakuza (Japanese mobsters), blackmail letters and FBI stings. A proficient caper spiced up by Violet's eye for art.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This art heist has twists and turns, romance, and the happily-ever-after that many will be rooting for.”—Booklist
“Renn’s fun debut takes a kitchen-sink approach, throwing together romance, mystery, and action in a way that echoes the manga that the 16-year-old Violet loves to read.” —Publishers Weekly
“Will enthrall readers who love action.” —Examiner.com
“A fast-paced and engaging mystery with a spunky protagonist.” —VOYA
“The plot has lots of twists and turns, leaving readers on edge… Readers will cheer for Violet as she uses her wits to outsmart the adults.” —SLJ
“We can't stop talking about action-packed YA mystery novel Tokyo Heist…author Diana Renn's first YA novel, but we certainly hope it isn't her last!” —HuffingtonPost.com
“It’s rare for YA heroines to have such specific, developed interests, and Violet filtering her investigation through her passion for manga, art, and Japan makes her seem like a real, relatable teenager.” —A.V. Club
“Young adult mysteries do not get any better than this.”—Peter Abrahams, author of the Echo Falls Mysteries
“Irresistible. I couldn’t put it down!”—Alane Ferguson, author of the Forensic Mysteries
“Adventures don’t get any more thrilling than Tokyo Heist.”—Kristen Miller, author of The Eternal Ones series