Loot by Jude Watson (2014)
March McQuinn has spent his life travelling the world and participating in various heists with his father Alfie McQuinn, the world’s most notorious burglar. Despite having this life of adventure, March has always felt something was missing from his life. That feeling is actualized when Alfie falls from the roof of a building while attempting at heist in Amsterdam. Now March is alone with only a cryptic list of Alfie’s, and Alfie’s last words to guide him: “Find jewels.”
March quickly learns that the “jewels” Alfie meant for him to find was his sister Jules who has spent her life traveling with an acrobatic circus troupe. Shortly after being reunited, March and Jules are caught by the police and sent to an orphanage. Here they meet Darius (the “muscle”) and Izzy (the computer hacker). No one has any intentions of staying put at this dreadful orphanage.
March and Jules use what they know about Alfie and his business to learn more about Alfie’s cryptic list. They soon discover that Alfie was attempting to gather moonstones before his competitors do. These moonstones, however, have more than a big cash reward tied to them; they are linked to a prophecy and curse that could mean life or death for March and Jules.
What I liked: This year is really turning out to be the year of the heist book for me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love a good heist. This book was different for me though. The planning and trouble-shooting wasn’t as involved in this book as it was in other books I’ve recently read, like To Catch a Thief. Loot is written for a younger audience so I understand why there’s more focus on the action and less-so on the forethought of a heist.
While reading this book, it was easy to picture it as a movie. The characters are well-developed and have distinct personalities, the language is clever, and the action scenes are paced in way that matches cinema. I particularly enjoyed meeting Alfie’s “business associates”. The heist towards the end is also particularly gripping and suspenseful.
What I didn’t like: There’s a lot in this book that’s improbable and unbelievable. There were a few times where I wished that another more believable scenario had been written instead of what was ultimately published. I understand why it’s written as it is, but it’s something that makes it difficult for me to fully immerse myself in a book.
My opinion in summary: This book is for anyone who enjoyed the 39 Clues or even Treasure Hunters series. It’s a fanciful adventure for young readers who enjoy lots of action with near-miss escapes, likable characters, good narration, and who entertain the idea of being a kid traveling the world with no school and big adventures.
Overall rating: 8 out of 10