Fire and Heist (ARC) by Sarah Beth Durst

Released in North America on December 4, 2018, Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst introduces fans of the genre to a whole new world where humans and magic mingle. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Julie Kagawa will undoubtedly devour this contemporary fantasy about a teen were-dragon who must steal her first treasure – though this tale may not be fore everyone.

DISCLAIMER: Thank-you to Indigo Books & Music Inc. for providing me with an Advance Review Copy of Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst in exchange for an honest review. 

In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon. Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family’s wealth and rank in their community. With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society–a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.

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Through an odd and rather comical series of events, I somehow ended up with two copies of Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst – Indigo Books & Music Inc. provided me with an Advance Review Copy, and I also received a signed edition from FairyLoot in their December “Dragons” box. Thus, with two copies of this book on my shelf, and quite a bit of hype surrounding the book, I didn’t hesitate long before diving in. And honestly? I am pretty disappointed by this one.

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The characters were hit and miss for me. I simply could not connect with Sky Hawkins (the book’s main wyvern protagonist) at all. Perhaps it’s because Sky essentially used to have it all – she was the classic rich girl (popular, hot boyfriend, more cars than the garage could hold, etc.). But then her mother suddenly disappeared while on a heist. Now her friends aren’t talking to her, her boyfriend Ryan broke up with her and humiliated her in public, and her family is being shunned by the entire influential wyvern community. Yet despite her near constant snark about “I get it, I’m a rich girl and my problems aren’t that huge”, her characters just felt so surreal and disconnected from reality, I really couldn’t sympathize with her at all. Despite this, I did really enjoy Sky’s heist crew – from Gabriella, a human classmate who’s looking for more excitement in her life; to Maximilian, a wizard with his own motivations; and to Ryan, Sky’s ex who swears he was forced to dump her by his dad but that he still loves her – the crew was varied and fun.

That, unfortunately, was where the heist stopped being fun. Now, I’m no expert on heist novels, but I was expecting far more elaborate plans and details (think Six of Crows or even a good heist movie, like Ocean’s 11). Instead I got a lack-luster heist that was sparse on details, and to put it simply, just plain boring. Honestly, it was pretty anticlimactic. The heist part should be the tensest, most suspenseful part of any heist story.  It should keep you on your toes and surprise you. Yet this heist, it just sort of … happened.

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Finally, a quick note on the writing of this one – Fire and Heist seemed painfully juvenile. I understand that the author has her own style, but while I was reading this, I truly didn’t feel like I was reading a Young Adult novel. The writing/prose reads quite childishly and as a result I couldn’t quite take it seriously in dire situations – or at all really. Beyond that, the tonal shift mid-novel – which completely derailed the heist story – was so jarring and confusing that it completely removed me from the story itself and left me struggling to continue reading the novel.

Unfortunately, Fire and Heist was a huge let down for me. I was quite intrigued by the concept of this story (having enjoyed Kagawa’s writing previously, and being a fan of some other YA heist novels), but when it came to the actual story-telling it felt quite bland. Despite a fun ensemble cast, the main protagonist was insufferable at best, the heist sparse and lacking, and the writing painfully childish, resulting in a lack-luster and downright un-enjoyable read (1/5).

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