cover image How to Live a Life of Crime

How to Live a Life of Crime

Kirsten Miller. Razorbill, $17.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-59514-518-5

Ever since running away from military school, 17-year-old Flick has been making ends meet as a thief on the streets of New York City; his eventual goal is to avenge the death of his brother. After a heist, Flick is recruited to join the prestigious Mandel Academy, a private school whose actual purpose is to train kids in everything from extortion to murder. Flick sees this as a chance to hone his skills and gain access to his abusive criminal father (who is on the board of directors), but he gets caught up in internal politics, especially after some of his fellow students die during training. Miller (The Eternal Ones) is fully aware that she’s making use of some familiar clichés and tropes (Flick calls the school “Hogwarts for hustlers,” at one point), but she keeps every character—from Flick’s Faginesque girlfriend to the calculating head of the school—grounded and believable, giving the story’s horrors substantial impact. The resulting book often violently belies its cute title, in ways that will have readers racing to the end. Ages 14–up. Agent: William Morris Endeavor. (Feb.)