Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Title: Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Date: February 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1423116394

Plot Summary: Katarina Bishop has been involved with the family business since a young age – although in her family, the family business is theft.  Kat decides that she wants to pull the best job ever and steal herself a normal life, so she cons her way into a private boarding school and leaves the criminal life behind.  But she can’t stay at the Colgan School for long, because her family pulls her back in – and this is a heist she can’t ignore.

Someone has stolen paintings from the evil Arturo Taccone, and he believes that it was Kat’s father.  If Kat can’t find and return the paintings, something bad will happen to her dad – but how will she find out who really took them?  Kat assembles a team of the best teenage thieves around and sets off on a trail of clues that takes her around the world.  But time is running out – will they make it in time?

Critical Evaluation: There is much to love about Heist Society, the first in a new series by young adult author Ally Carter.  The main character, Kat, is a very relatable protagonist for teenage readers, as she is trying to set herself apart from her family and gain some independence, but still finds herself connected with them.  The characters are one of the strengths of the book – each member of Kat’s team is distinctive, making it easy to understand the dynamics at work within the group, from Kat’s jealousy of her cousin Gabrielle, to her crush on the young billionaire, Hale.  It’s easy to visualize this thriller as a movie, so it’s unsurprising that Warner Bros. has already optioned the feature rights to the novel.  One of my favorite features of the book was a countdown that kept track of the remaining days before their deadline and their current location.  A really fun read and a great mystery!

Reader’s Annotation: Born into a family of thieves, Katarina Bishop pulls the best job ever and cons her way into a normal life at boarding school.  But she can’t stay for long, because her family pulls her back in for another heist – and this time her father’s life is in danger.

Author Information: Ally Carter is actually the pen name of author Sarah Leigh Fogleman, who writes for adults and young adults and is well known for her Gallagher Girls series about a girl attending a prestigious spy school.  She describes To Kill a Mockingbird as her favorite book, and recommends Amazing Grace by Megan Shull as a great YA novel. (Source)

Of her transition from writing for adults to writing YA fiction, Carter says, “It was actually very easy for me.  I am a huge fan of the great YA work that’s out there right now, so it was fairly effortless once I knew who my main character was.  After that, I just had to sit back and see where she took me. And if you’ve ever been in a car with a fifteen-year-old who has her learners’ permit, you know that can be an interesting ride.” (Source)

Genre: Mystery

Curriculum Ties: Art History – specifically it can be used to spark conversations about ownership of art that has been plundered.  A Reader’s Guide with Classroom Connections can be accessed from Ally Carter’s website.

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Discuss Kat’s return into the life of stealing – was it inevitable, or was she really going to reform and stay at boarding school?
2) Talk about the character Visily Romani.  How much do we know about him?  Was it one person acting alone?
3) If the paintings were taken by Nazis from their original owners, who do they rightfully belong to?

Interest Age: 13 and older

Challenge Issues: None, although some may take issue with the portrayal of thieves in a positive light.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This book has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I read a review of this book on A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy which piqued my interest.  I also haven’t reviewed any mysteries yet, so I was adding some variety to my collection.


Ally Carter’s website.

Book trailer for Heist Society:


March 2, 2010 - Posted by | Books |

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