Here's the summary from Goodreads: 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?
What I Liked: 1) I loved the idea. Just seeing the title of the book I was drawn to it. Does that make me sound like I want to learn how to be a criminal? No, I'd make a lousy criminal. But a school to teach kids how to be criminals, that sounded so interesting! 2) This book seemed different than a lot of other YA out there. It has a lot of the same elements, but it was psychological and kind of violent at the same time. Because of the background that these kids came from, their level of trust in each other was pretty much zero. So I wasn't concerned with discerning relationships between characters. That was the biggest difference between this and other YA books that I read. Because everyone was so suspicious of one another, those relationships didn't develop, but they didn't create a gap in the story because of how it was written. If that makes sense...3) Peter Pan. You have to read it to understand what this means to the story, but it was very interesting, and taught me a lot about who the main character (Flick) was, and what was important to him. It would not have been the same if the Peter Pan storyline had not been included, and it was one of my favorite parts to try and decipher.
What I Didn't Like: I think I expected more about the school itself. We got the information that we needed in order to understand the book, but I think I was expecting more about how these kids were being taught to be criminals. Instead of they were already criminals, and we're just pushing them further over the edge. There was a lot of potential in that aspect that just wasn't lived up to.
Overall Thoughts: How To Lead A Life of Crime is a book that I would recommend to teen guys who are looking for something that is different than a lot of the YA out there. Since it wasn't too focused on a romance angle, and was instead more physical and psychological. There was an interesting theme, and the ending was satisfying. I was hoping for something a little more to appeal to me personally, but I think that many people will be able to get into it based on it's unique storyline.
My Rating: 3.5 shots