From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Having run away from his privileged background, Flick survives by being a pickpocket on the streets of New York while planning revenge on his father for the death of his beloved younger brother and his mother's resulting suicide. He has a place to sleep and food to eat thanks to Joi, a mysterious girl who acts as protector to a group of runaways. Flick loves Joi and admires her, though he doesn't understand her generosity; for him, counting on and caring for others is a weakness. After a well-dressed man named Lucian Mandel asks him to break into an apartment and Flick succeeds, Lucian offers the teen a scholarship to the Mandel Academy, promising to give him proof of his father's guilt at graduation. Flick agrees, but has second thoughts when he realizes that the school prepares students to become powerful criminals through training in assassination, drug-dealing, blackmail, etc. He soon realizes that students who do not graduate disappear, permanently. When Mandel enrolls Joi, Flick is willing to give his life to keep her safe and get her out. The subject matter might appeal to reluctant readers, but the intricate plot and length will discourage most. It would also be expected that there would be a gritty realism to the vocabulary, so the constant modification of a certain four letter word into an "expletive deleted" type of format is not only jarring, but irritating. Purchase where the author's other titles are popular.-Suanne B. Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FLα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
To escape his father’s beatings and to protect his younger brother, Flick has kept busy as a pickpocket on the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. His only refuge is Joi (pronounced “Joey”), a young woman who steals to feed street urchins. Enter Lucian Mandel, the proprietor of Mandel Academy, a prestigious school that takes troubled kids off the street and teaches them how to become rich and famous by unscrupulous means. Mandel solicits Flick to win a bet with Flick’s father—and it doesn’t take Flick long to realize what happens to students who don’t succeed. The plot thickens as Mandel brings Joi in with the next group of recruits; she wins their confidence even as she strives to topple Mandel. Even with twists, turns, some macabre scenes, and occasional raw language, this will grab teen readers just as Miller’s Kiki Strike books grabbed middle-grade students. A thick, satisfying read that ought to keep readers up late. Grades 9-12. --Petty, J. B.