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Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn

Tokyo Heist (edition 2012)

by Diana Renn

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716168,809 (3.58)1
Title:Tokyo Heist
Authors:Diana Renn
Info:Viking Juvenile (2012), Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

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Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn



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A fun adventure mystery. Maybe a bit on the young side of YA and a little too Nancy Drew formulaic, but overall an enjoyable quick read. Would recommend to fans of manga and anime, as I didn't understand a lot of the pop culture references. Obviously comparable to Heist Society, but kind of the other point of view of this world. ( )
  marywilton | Nov 19, 2013 |
Originally posted here.

Tokyo Heist is my first and last experience with DAC ARC tours. I signed up a couple of months ago, I think, and have since withdrawn from the Debut Author Challenge (though I continue to do my own non-age-specific debut challenge). Since that is a requirement for the tours, I am not going to be joining any more of them. However, I have NOTHING against DAC ARC Tours. They have been very professional and nice, even though this experience was more drama-filled than some, since the first ARC disappeared somewhere along the way. So thank you to DAC ARC Tours and to Penguin for making it possible for me to read this ARC.

Tokyo Heist would make an excellent read for younger readers looking to transition to YA or for middle graders. The content, writing, and characters definitely would fit with that age group well. Violet definitely felt like a young 16 to me. There were definitely times where she would be trying to figure something out and I would be headdesking at how obvious this particular part of the mystery was. This was not the case with every single clue by any means, but did happen more than once. I also couldn't believe that the FBI was impressed by some of her suggestions, since most of them seemed pretty obvious; maybe they were just being nice.

Of course, Violet does do some serious sleuthing too, along with the Scooby Doo variety. Where Violet and Tokyo Heist really shine are in the sections focusing on artwork. As the mystery progressed into more art-based research and sleuthing, the pace definitely picked up and I was less able to point out the obvious solution.

It's also great that you can totally tell how passionate Violet is about art, both other people's and her own. In fact, the artistic descriptions were so vivid that I occasionally sort of felt like I was reading a manga rather than a novel. This would have made a stellar manga or graphic novel, btws. It would have been like Inception, when it got into the Kimono Girl scenes!

Part of what made Violet seem so young was her manga obsession, which was also something I enjoyed, being a lover of manga as well. However, Violet takes it a little too far, as a young teen might do. Whenever she's stuck in her mystery-solving, she asks herself "WWVSD?" (What would Vampire Sleuths do?), because that is her favorite manga. She also tries to figure out how to handle her crush on her best friend by looking to manga for advice. Friends, I adore manga, but DO NOT DO THIS. No wonder she's having so much difficulty with her romance, poor dear.

Tokyo Heist is a fun read full of Asian culture (ftw!). If you're looking for something light with an entertaining mystery and some diversity, Renn's book is definitely worth picking up. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Mini Review: A delightfully fun mystery read that is perfect for the YA lover who either is sick or or dislikes any paranormal/dystopian type of read. Violet is is a charming heroine that many young girls will feel a connection to. This is also a book that the manga lover will thoroughly enjoy as the Japanese animation is an integral to the plot of the story. I did find the constant manga mentions and Japanese expressions a little irritating at times but than again I am not the intended audience for this, so feel free to ignore my comment on that. I also really disliked Violet's father (although there was some wonderful realistic character development with him) and just wanted to smack him on many occasion. Was impressed with the thorough amount of research the author did in relation to all facets of the art world and Japanese culture. I wish the store I worked at had some copies of this book as many of our young customers are sick of the dystopian & paranormal stories and want something just like this.

4 Dewey's

Jenn lent this to me as part of a read a long that she takes part in with Michelle and Chandra - Thanks ladies this was a refreshing change from what I have been reading ( )
  mountie9 | Feb 25, 2013 |
A strong start and a weak finish, but still a fun story. Violet, a teen otaku, and her artist father get caught up in events surrounding the theft of van Gogh drawings and a frantic search for a missing van Gogh painting that takes them from Seattle to Japan. Not terribly atmospheric,especially once the characters arrive in Japan--I felt like the author was describing a Japan she'd read about rather than one she'd experienced. Japanese words were correctly romanized but were often forced in their placement. I also felt the romance between Violet and her friend Edge, who only appears in the beginning and end of the story, was stilted--he should have played more of a role in the story for them to end up together.
  LibraryGirl11 | Aug 4, 2012 |
Review first posted at http://www.flyleafreview.com/2012/06/book-review-tokyo-heist-by-diana-renn.html

Art themes. Art theft themes. Travel themes. Summertime travel themes. Mystery. I knew, knew, upon reading the summary of Tokyo Heist that I was going to dig this book. How could I not? The five aspects mentioned above are absolute favorites of mine! And I was not disappointed. Tokyo Heist was a fun and funny mystery caper featuring both a likable MC as well as likable secondary characters set in an awesome exotic (at least to me) locale. And it has art. Lots of it. I know I mentioned it earlier but it bears repeating. ART, people. Like well written enough that it could be taught in one of my old art history classes. Which is so cool because the author, as far as I can tell, is not an art historian. She is just a very, very good researcher:) Plus I think she likes it a whole lot, which definitely transfers to her writing. So time for the breakdown!

From the opening line onward I knew that I was going to like getting to know our protagonist Violet. The introduction has Violet showing up, soaking wet (it's Seattle so enough said) at her dad's gallery exhibition. Dad's a painter, and like many artists, he's completely self absorbed and obsessed with his craft, which doesn't leave much time for his daughter. In fact, when Vi shows up, no one even knows she exists let alone is coming to the show. Strike one, dad. And Vi is set to spend the summer with him as her mom, an academic, is on a field study trip abroad. So immediately I have some sympathy for the girl, but I have to give her props. She doesn't wallow. She's embarrassed and uncomfortable but she's not pouty, angsty or flipping out. In short she handles it very maturely for her young 16 years. And by the way, she does seem a young 16 year old. In fact, it sometimes seemed as if Violet was even younger. Although it didn't detract from the book, I think because of the travel and some of the situations she finds herself in later in the book, Diana Renn kind of needed to bump up her age. I'll just say it's kind of refreshing to see a 16 year old acting her age (or even slightly younger:)

After some awkward moments with dad, the gallery owner, and dad's snooty girlfriend, Violet meets two of her father's patrons who will go on to play a major role in the book: the Yamada's. The Yamada's have commissioned Violet's dad to paint a mural in their office headquarters in Tokyo. After the Yamada's Seattle home is burgled (I love that word, I wish I was British so I could use it more often), the thief lifting some very expensive van Gogh studies (preliminary drawings for later paintings), the commission is pushed up and Vi gets to travel and spend the summer with her dad in Japan. Score!

At this point you need to know that Vi, too, is an artist. More specifically she draws manga. She has been working on her own manga series which is entitled Kimono Girl and features a kick ass heroine/ crime fighter who can jump into paintings (and out) and solves capers and mysteries. It's VERY cool you guys, and I am not extremely knowledgeable about manga, but I have to say, after reading Tokyo Heist I am definitely intrigued and want to learn more! Vi works at a comic book/ manga store and is pretty much obsessed with any and everything Japanese. So a trip to Tokyo for the summer is like the most exciting thing that could have happened to our girl! Little does she know how embroiled she will become in the mystery of the missing van Gogh works.

Now I will admit, the first part of the book, before Vi travels to Tokyo, seemed a bit slow. But events occur which set the scene for the time spent in Japan, so I didn't have a problem with it. Once in Japan, Vi meets up with her best friend Reika, who is half Japanese and summering in Tokyo with relatives, and together they are pulled into the shady world of art crime, the Japanese Mob, and some big Yamada family secrets as they try to solve the disappearance of the van Gogh artworks.

Does this sound a little bit Nancy Drewish? Well, it is to a degree but that didn't bother me so much because I was so caught up in the mystery. And I can say that while I did see some things coming, there were definitely other parts that came as a surprise to me. It didn't feel like a "canned" or re-hashed version of your average mystery novel at all.

So I really liked Violet. I thought she was funny, smart, and had a good heart. I love how excited she was to be experiencing something as awesome as a trip to Japan. She really appreciated all of it and totally immersed herself in the culture.Some of my favorite parts of the book were the descriptions of the different places she visited like the manga cafés and Harajuku, the shopping district in Tokyo. I loved the scenes with the Gion festival, and all the elaborate parades, floats (which are described as mobile art museums, HELLO, awesomeness!) and costumes. I loved the traditions and customs mentioned like purchasing a fortune from Kanno the Buddhist goddess of Mercy:

"If it's favorable fortune you keep it. If it's a bad fortune, you can tie it to a tree outside and the wind will take it away."

Basically, whereas Daughter of Smoke and Bone made me want to visit Prague; Anna and the French Kiss made me want to return to Paris; and Wanderlove made me want to backpack through Central America, Tokyo Heist has me longing to explore Japan. I don't think it gets any better than that:)

In addition to the cool heroine and the lush setting, I have to give a big shout out to Diana Renn for her extremely well fleshed out secondary characters. I loved the Yamada family but hands down my all time favorite would have to be Vi's BFF, Reika. Gosh I love it when a BFF kind of steals the show and Reika most definitely does. She's funny, supportive, loyal and caring. All the qualities that a best friend should be. Favorite Reika quote:

"I wish you two would just get together. The two of you are like in episode seventy-eight of a manga series with no climax."

Reika is a HOOT.

But with whom is she speaking in that quote, and about what? Reika is laying into Vi about her secret (or not so secret) crush with their friend back home, Edge. I haven't said anything about the romantic aspect of Tokyo Heist, because to me, that is the weakest part of the book. We are briefly introduced to Edge early on, but he remains largely absent through almost the entire book. In fact, I think if he was removed altogether, it wouldn't have made any difference to the plot. It almost feels if he was included just for the perfunctory romance angle that someone higher up thinks must be included in any YA novel. While I personally love a hot romance in a book, and I think when done right it definitely enhances any book, if it's just kind of thrown in there than it really doesn't do much for me, or in my opinion, the book in general. So, while I liked what little I read of Edge, I could take it or leave it when it comes to him and his romance with the main character.

Edge/romance angle or not, I really enjoyed Diana Renn's writing. She has a beautiful way with words, some of her passages were almost lyrical. Here, Violet describes the character Hideki's accent, which reminds her of:

"a beautiful dragon emblazoned on silk, his words curling outward like swirls of smoke."

Yet even with this type of writing, Renn conveys information to the reader easily. The art historical parts and the descriptions of Japanese culture, including lots of cool translations of Japanese words, flowed easily and weren't confusing or overly wordy. I'm really impressed with this debut work and I am anxious to read more by this author.

I should also talk a bit more about the the relationship between Violet and her dad, it's strained to say the least. I won't spoil but I will say that the relationship is a definite factor in the story and thankfully, Renn doesn't leave us hanging about the outcome. There is resolution. That's all I'll say about that:)

In closing, Tokyo Heist is a fun read, full of action, sleuthing, and suspense. There is attempted romance, but it's definitely WAY in the backdrop. But hey, you are going to learn about some pretty amazing art including manga and Japanese woodblock prints. There's a connection between the two that I think is very cool. And if you are interested in the art mentioned behind the story in Tokyo Heist, the author's note at the story's end should not be overlooked! I really enjoyed Tokyo Heist and think it's the perfect summertime read!

4/5 Stars ( )
  FlyleafHeather | Jun 20, 2012 |
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After a high-profile art heist of three van Gogh drawings in her home town of Seattle, sixteen-year-old Violet Rossi finds herself in Japan with her artist father, searching for the related van Gogh painting.

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