What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that teen heroine Violet and her friend Reika are sometimes in real danger in Tokyo Heist, since they've gotten mixed up with a missing Van Gogh painting sought by the yakuza (an organized crime syndicate in Japan). There's a comical fist fight, various robberies, burglaries, and break-ins, a kidnapping, and Japanese art collectors are threatened with violence to property and people's lives over the missing painting. There's one scene with a lot of gunfire, but nobody dies. Along the way, both the girls and young readers learn a lot about art, Japanese culture, people, and the ways your loved ones can surprise you.
What's the story?
Sixteen-year-old manga enthusiast Violet Rossi is looking forward to spending the summer with her artist dad in Seattle, until he suddenly gets a commission that sends them both to Japan. It soon comes to light that his wealthy clients, the Yamadas, have been the victims of a major art theft -- and that if a long-lost Van Gogh isn't found and turned over to the thief, people will be killed. In Tokyo and Kyoto, from bullet train to rustic inn, Violet and her best friend Reika are on the case.
Is it any good?
TOKYO HEIST is a gem, hip enough to appeal to teen girls -- especially the more artistic, cosmopolitan ones -- but also incredibly well-crafted. It offers so many surprises and interesting characters that those teens’ mystery-loving moms will probably go for it, too.
First-time novelist Diana Renn's writing is topnotch, and she keeps plot complications in play quite deftly. Violet, a smart, creative child of single parents, is appealing and true to life; she's often more adult than her artist father, but both of them learn a lot about themselves and each other in the course of their adventures.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what you know about today's Japanese culture. If you went to Japan, what would you go see first? The electronics? The fashions? The historic buildings?
How does Violet's relationship with her father start out rocky but improve? How do they get to understand each other better? What do they have in common?
Are you a fan of comics? Which ones? Why do you think manga has caught on in the United States?