by Kirsten Miller
“What would it be like to exist in a world without suffering? To have no needs, only desires? To be surrounded by so much beauty that you forget how ugly life is for everyone else? Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t be willing to fight for it? What the alumni did to get there – lie, cheat, steal, kill – I’m sure they’d all say it was worth it. And I bet they sleep soundly because they know that their nameless, faceless victims would have done the same thing.”
― Kirsten Miller, How to Lead a Life of Crime
A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer.
Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.
Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?
This book wasn't what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be something with a lot of fun and snark. Um, yeah, not so much.
There *was* some snark, but graced with a healthy dose of bitterness and anger. Flick is a kid living on the streets after escaping a lousy home life (that's putting it mildly). He's offered a chance to attend a prestigious school in NYC and get revenge on his father and he decides to take it. But this school for criminals is cutthroat (literally) and generally horrible.
While the story was significantly harsher and edgier than I was anticipating (that's what happens you make assumptions), it was ultimately very satisfying. This book is not for the faint of heart and does have mature themes and elements, so take that under advisement, but I highly recommend it.