Google+ Jen Ryland/YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading … Life After Theft

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Life After Theft

Life After Theft
by Aprilynne Pike
To be published by Harper Teen
on April 30, 2013

Source: e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss.

Buzzwords: guy meets ghost, shoplifters anonymous, teen pregnancy, Lloyd Dobler

Connect with the author: blog : website : Facebook : Twitter.




Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich-kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a klepto. No one can see or hear Kimberlee except Jeff, so--in hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history--he agrees to help her complete her "unfinished business." But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff's new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he's made the right choice. 

My take: I've never read any of Aprilynne Pike's Wings series, so I had no idea what to expect from Life After Theft. And, until I sat down to write this, I didn't know that Life After Theft was a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel -- which I've also not read.

Since that whole Pimpernel business went -- whoosh! -- right over my head until now, I'd describe Life After Theft as The Ghost and the Goth meets My Name is Earl. In other words, a guy meets a girl ghost who needs his help making amends for some of the crappy stuff she did when she was alive.

The story is told from Jeff's POV. As he starts a new school in Santa Monica, he's shocked that he can see and hear a bossy, snarky dead girl named Kimberlee. She's thrilled that she finally has someone to talk to, and asks Jeff to help her return all this stuff she stole when she was alive. And we're not just talking about a lip gloss and an electric toothbrush here. She stole a LOT of stuff.

Sidenote: I'm not even kidding about the electric toothbrush. Did you know that is one of the most commonly shoplifted items in America? Along with vacuum cleaners? I would never condone stealing, but I need to know: how does  person shoplift a vacuum? You can check out the whole list of most commonly shoplifted items here.

In Life After Theft, kleptomania meets atonement: Jeff returns Kimberlee's stuff and, as he does, leaves this little rose calling card behind. (I thought that was a little odd as I was reading, but again, I didn't make the whole Scarlet Pimpernel connection. I have also learned that while a scarlet pimpernel sounds like a bad kind of acne, but it's actually a flower, and also the calling card left by Sir Percy in the book as he rescued people from the guillotine during the French Revolution.) Soon people in Jeff's school are up in arms, trying to figure out where all the stolen stuff has come from, who took it, and who's returning it.

While I mostly enjoyed Life After Theft, I did think that some of the characters and plot elements could have been more thoroughly developed. Plus, a couple remarks that Jeff made in relation to women had me cringing just a little.

But here are some things I did like about the book:


  • No love triangle. Though there are two girls in Jeff's life during the book, one stays strictly in the Friend Zone.
  • Jeff's parents are both present,  and -- in an interesting, not-typical-for-YA-twist -- Jeff's mom got pregnant with him in high school and his parents managed to make things work, which is a nice counterpoint to those pregnant teen reality horror shows. (In a nice touch, they also don't try to pretend that their situation was ideal and, when they realize that Jeff is having sex, talk to him about responsibility and birth control.)
  • Jeff has a Lloyd Dobler moment. Man, those get me every single time.

If you love the idea of guy meets ghost, or if you've read and enjoyed The Ghost and the Goth, or if you are looking for a light contemporary YA with romance and a hint of the paranormal, check out Life After Theft.


32 comments:

  1. I really like the comparison to My Name is Earl as I enjoyed that show. I am very nervous about the remarks Jeff makes about women though-that tends to set me on edge and really turning me off a book.

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    1. It was nothing major. One sort of cheese ball remark and another offhand one that made it seem like he was a little judge-y about the whole good girl/bad girl trap (while he, of course, is a guy and doesn't get judged like that.) I'm sure his mom or his new girlfriend can set him straight.

      If the book appeals to you otherwise, go for it!

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  2. No love-triangle! Yeah. Parents with a non-typical twist! Double yeah :D This book is starting to sound good. I wasn't very interested in it, but I do like the boy meets ghost girl, especially because she is snarky. Great review Jen!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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    1. The ghost girl is pretty funny. And yeah, the parents were definitely interesting :)

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  3. The family life is what interests me the most about this story. I do like ghost stories too, though not usually in this capacity. I'm intrigued though! Maybe I'll pick it up someday. :)

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    1. The family life isn't a huge part, but I did like that it was something refreshingly different!

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  4. I skipped this one because the synopsis made me run the other direction. New school, rich kid private school, but especially Kimberlee. I know it seems shallow, but it just seemed like a character I wouldn't want to know.

    Loved your sidenote by the way. It's funny that vacuums and electric toothbrushes are so commonly stolen. At least we know the people like cleanliness. Lol!!

    This sounds like a fun book, and I like that it's a male POV and the parents are involved. I might change my mind about wanting to read this. Great review!

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    1. LOL -- I love private school and boarding school books, which is probably the reason I requested this.

      And yeah, that list was the weirdest. I can see how people shoplift a pack of cigarettes or gum, but a vacuum cleaner? Really???

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  5. This sounds so much like the Ghost and the Goth to me. Hmmmm I wonder if I would like it. I was firmly in the no camp until you said NO love triangle & then Lloyd Dobler moment lol

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    1. Doesn't have the dual POV, but does have the ghost and the snark.
      Glad that I have thoroughly confused you :)

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  6. I'll have to check this one out-- it sounds like a light and fluffy read. And Lloyd Dobler moments are the cutest. That movie is adorable! <3 I've never read "The Scarlet Pimpernel" either, so I might be a tad confused, like you were, but I think that I'd enjoy it. Fabulous review, Jen! (:

    Loves,
    Megan@The Book Babe

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    1. I know, right? Now I want to watch it again...

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  7. I don't know if I like this one basing itself off of The Scarlet Pimpernel since I love that book and the whole calling card works so well for the plot in that story, but here it just seems lame. It would be different if it was like The Heist Society or some serious missions being carried out so that it wasn't so cheesy. Of course, I haven't read it, so maybe it works.

    I agree - how do you shoplift a vacuum? I always love your side notes and research topics in your posts!

    Tressa @ Tressa's Wishful Endings

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    1. So it's hard for me to say, but I'm guessing this is a very loose retelling, or just loosely inspired by the original.

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  8. I've actually been thinking about reading this. Interesting. We all know how much I loved Ghost and the Goth... but I've never watched My Name is Earl. I think my parents thought it was funny a while back...

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    1. I only watched a couple episodes of Earl. I'm just not a fan of sit-coms, even the edgier ones. I'll have to do a post on that one day….

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  9. I had absolutely no idea that THAT was what this book was about. The cover makes it look like a contemporary. I loved The Ghost and The Goth. Haven't read The Scarlet Pimpernel, but I think I'll definitely have to look more into this one. Thanks for the great review!

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

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    1. Yeah, I'm guessing the cover is supposed to be Kimberlee? I love the cover, but it doesn't really reflect what the book is about.

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  10. AAH Lloyd Dobler moment?!! Say no more! I'm totally reading this. I had no plans to read it, but this is the second review that makes me want to grab it asap. Thanks for the nudge, and awesome review, Jen! Glad you enjoyed it overall despite the underdevelopment of some of the plot points and characters.

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    1. I know. Why aren't there Lloyds in real life? WHY???

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  11. I liked this one although it did feel very similar to The Ghost and the Goth. It was good but I also felt something was slightly missing. More character development or more twists. I kind of thought there would be a big reveal about her death or something. But I did like that there was no love triangle and that his love interest wasn't the ghost. I was worried it would be like Shade all over again and I would be sad to see the ghost go instead of happy they could move on.

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    1. I agree -- I did also think that there would be more revelations at the end. And yes, I am not generally a fan of ghost romance. I mean, what is the point of that? I did like Anna Dressed in Blood, but that is the only exception I can think of….

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  12. I did know that electric toothbrushes were commonly stolen. Before checking the list I will tell you that I also think that baby formula and condoms are on the list.

    Hmmm no condoms, but I was right about the baby formula. Should have guessed pregnancy tests cause they're always locked up. And what's with the mixers? Seriously?

    I'm really excited to read this one. I love ghosts and this sounds perfect.

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    1. Ha -- while I am thankful people want good dental hygiene, that's weird.
      And yeah, if people stole condoms they might not need the pregnancy tests and baby formula. Though in all seriousness it makes me very sad that people might have to steal food for their kids….

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  13. This one sounds like so much fun, I have an arc of this one and I can't wait to read it. How does one shoplift a vacuum lol. Great review!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

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  14. Yay! No love triangle! Lol. I'm glad to see that you enjoyed this one and it really does sound like a fun read.

    Also on the note of how do you still larger items, it's important to note that the Loss Prevention people in most stores like Walmart, Belks, etc. are not allowed to touch a shop-lifter. You can grab their cart and get in their way, but until they touch you first you can not touch them. Also there are usually only one or two LP's in a store. So it's possible for them to get through the doors with a tv or a vacuum.That being said quite a few get caught later. (Also I only know this because my boyfriend works at a Walmart, lol).

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    1. Ooh, interesting. So in theory, you can just walk out with it. And professional thieves probably know the rules. That's terrible! But does explain some of the larger items on the list...

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    2. In theory yeah, a lot of them do end up getting caught later because there are a ton of cameras. A tv walked out the door like 2 weeks ago there and everyone was a bit baffled. It's pretty crazy.

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  15. Awesome review. I read this book as well and I like that there was no love triangle. Made the book easy to read and enjoyable.

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  16. Hm. I didn't know it was The Scarlet Pimpernel retelling either, and like you, I'd have guessed it as a Ghost and the Goth kind of read (which I LOVE).

    Definitely going to be checking this out.

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  17. The Ghost and the Goth meets My Name is Earl? That sounds...interesting. I didn't read the first, but I loved the show. I had moved this one to the bottom of the list because I read her faerie series, but the things you liked about this book really interest me. Especially the Lloyd Dobler moment. :)

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  18. I'm so confused about why this one has a male POV but a girl on the cover? I mean I get it, but it throws me off a bit. Also, I've never read The Scarlet Pimpernel, but I didn't think it had anything to do with ghosts? Diane Peterfreund's new book ACROSS THE STAR SWEPT SEA is also a retelling of this classic. I've started to be over ghost boos a bit, but this one does sound fun. Thanks for sharing.

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