Book Review: Fire & Heist

Fire & Heist
Sarah Beth Durst
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: 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.

Rating: A contemporary heist novel masquerading as a fantasy. While amusing and full of heart, this will not satisfy hardcore fantasy readers.
2.5 Stars

Fire & Heist is a light YA fantasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The key to enjoying this book is to know that going into it. I started this book expecting the typical snarky/broody/romance laden YA fantasy story that is so popular these days. What I got was a funny little story about were-dragons (or wyverns?) that felt more like a contemporary.

Sky Hawkins, our plucky and overconfident main character, has recently lost her mother (via mysterious disappearance) and her boyfriend (via wyvern political BS), but she is determined to pull off her first heist and right all the wrongs in her life. The setting is an AU modern day, where Wyverns are publicly known creatures and basically celebrities, complete with fan sites and gossip magazine articles dedicated to their personal dramas. All of this comes together somehow but it took a little bit for my mind to adjust to the modern and contemporary style setting.

The cast of characters are all amusing, but I never felt too deeply about anyone. This is a shorter novel and there is a large cast, so I can understand that depth might be harder to achieve. I think the character I ended up liking the most was Gabriela, the friend that Sky first starts using for selfish reasons and then grows to actually become real friends with. That was the only relationship that felt real to me. Even though I tend to like romance in my books, I could have done without the romance here. There was no chemistry between Sky and her ex. The brothers were good additions but again, never got enough depth to really care about them.

The writing style was not for me, but if you like contemporaries and want to try out a fantasy novel this one is definitely a good transition novel. There was a lot of contemporary humor. Sometimes the jokes landed for me and sometimes they didn’t. Everything was a little too quippy for me. And I think because of the humor and the writing style, I never felt any sense that this story would have anything but a happy ending. The stakes never felt like they were real. The heist was also fairly lackluster. It wasn’t terrible…but it wasn’t suspenseful, which I think heists should be.

All said, this was a fun book and a quick read. I’m so used to tragic, broody YA fantasy novels that by the time I had adjusted my mindset, the book was over. I recommend this one as a palate cleanser between heavier fantasy books or if you are a contemporary reader looking to start reading fantasy.

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