Smash & Grab – Amy Christine Parker – Random House – Published 19 July 2016
LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.
CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .
Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.
Lexi jumps off buildings for the rush. Christian robs banks to keep his family safe. When their worlds collide, they must rely on each other to pull off the biggest heist of their lives.
Smash & Grab is a fast-paced, action-filled heist novel, with the addition of romance, thrill-seeking extreme stunts and a touch of Hollywood drama. It didn’t quite match the brilliance and perfection of Heist Society by Ally Carter (my absolute favourite heist novel), but it is by far the closest book I’ve read yet. It didn’t have the finesse of Heist Society or the oh, wow!! moments, but, instead the heist is very much like the title suggests, smash and grab.
Lexi’s father has just been arrested for fraud, taking with him her family’s standing and livelihood. She knows his business partner was in on it too and she wants to take him down. Christian has been robbing banks to help pay back his father’s debt and to keep from getting jumped into the local gang. When he is told to pull off one last, big bank robbery, he is suspicious, especially when he keeps bumping into the mysterious and alluring Lexi. Lexi’s revenge will need a serious plan, as well as help from her risk-seeking friends and the dangerous Christian. It may involve blackmail, breaking and entering, and some serious flirting.
Smash & Grab has plenty of action, from the base jumping in the first chapter to the suspense of the final minutes of the job. And then there is the romance, which is just the right amount to balance the action without taking over the plot. The story also includes fun banter and teasing between Lexi and her friends and Christian and his crew.
Lexi and Christian are both great lead characters. Lexi is perfectly kick-butt and glamorous, which I loved, but she does show a bit of vulnerability and she is fun to hang out with. Christian is a mix of rough, dangerous and sweet. He is in this to protect his mother and little sister, is drawn to Lexi, but fears the violence of his gang connections and what that means for his future.
I enjoyed this story’s writing style. In a few places the story seemed to jump a little and there were a few details I thought didn’t line up or that Lexi and her crew weren’t likely to get away with, but it didn’t detract from the overall plot and excitement of the story.
I also liked how the need to pull off the robbery was justified. In many stories of theft it can be hard to relate to the characters if they don’t have a good reason for stealing. I didn’t have a problem siding with Lexi, Christian and their friends for this one – it is, after all, fiction. And very enjoyable fiction at that.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Crime, heists, bank robbery, romance, thrill-seeking, gangs, friendship, family
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: References to gang violence.
Published: 19 July 2016 by Random House.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 384 pages.