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Tokyo Heist Hardcover – June 14, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Renn keeps the tension high and the pace moving in a modern, unique whodunit." — The L.A. Times

"A terrific heroine, exciting and unexpected plot twists, and fascinating and beautifully-wrought real-life settings: young adult mysteries do not get better than this." — Peter Abrahams, author of the Echo Falls Mysteries and Edgar Award winner

"Tokyo Heist is a fast-paced, exotic reading adventure, a story where The da Vinci Code meets the wildly popular manga genre! Author Diana Renn infuses protagonist Violet with plenty of chikara (power) and Renn's fresh, spot-on author's voice is irresistible. I couldn't put it down!" — Alane Ferguson, author of the Forensic Mysteries and Edgar Award winner

"Fly to the coolest city on earth. Hunt for a missing masterpiece. Battle tattooed gangsters while rocking a kimono. And don't forget to try the shibazuke. Adventures don’t get any more thrilling than Tokyo Heist. You'll want to jump right inside this book and live it." — Kirsten Miller, author of Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City

"Hidden paintings, yakuza assassins, vivid settings, artful intrigue, and a taste of manga make Tokyo Heist an absorbing tale mystery readers will love." — Linda Gerber, author of Death by Latte

A Summer 2012 Kids' Indie Next Pick — Indiebound

"This art heist has twists and turns, romance, and the happily-ever-after that many will be rooting for." — Booklist

"Fans of mysteries and thrillers will enjoy this just as much as fans of Japanese culture." — Publishers Weekly

"Readers will cheer for Violet as she uses her wits and outsmarts the adults. Teens will learn about Japanese culture, and fans of manga and art students will rejoice that they can relate to the protagonist and story." — School Library Journal

"A van Gogh heist, a trip to Japan and a yakuza attack: Could there be a better summer? . . . A proficient caper spiced up by Violet's eye for art." — Kirkus Reviews

"A fast-paced and engaging mystery with a spunky protagonist." — VOYA

"TOKYO HEIST is refreshingly free of most of the standard modern YA-fiction tropes. . . . It's rare for YA heroines to have such specific, developed interests, and Violet filtering her investigation through her passion for manga, art, and Japan makes her seem like a real, relatable teenager." — A.V. Club

About the Author

Diana Renn grew up in Seattle and now lives in Boston. She has taught ESL and writing, most recently at Boston University. She has published numerous short stories and essays, and she is also the Fiction Editor at YARN (Young Adult Review Network), an award-winning online magazine featuring short-form writing for teens. She is the author of several ESL textbooks, as well as the YA mystery novels Latitude Zero and Tokyo Heist. She is an avid traveler.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (June 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670013323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670013326
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,466,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Liviania VINE VOICE on June 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
TOKYO HEIST is Diana Renn's first novel. It's a mystery that takes protagonist Violet Rossi from the streets of Seattle to the ryokan of Kyoto. At first, I was very, very worried that I would hate TOKYO HEIST. The press release claims, "[I]t's the Di Vinci Code for the teen generation with an exotic Asian twist." That description made me cringe. Violet doesn't make the best first impression either. This is going to make me sound so old, but her bad work ethic annoyed me.

But the Asian part of TOKYO HEIST is more than an exotic background. The book begins shortly after a set of Van Gogh sketches are stolen from the Yamadas, who are employing Violet's father to paint a mural in their main office in Tokyo, Japan. Once Violet and her father go to Japan, almost all of the other characters are Japanese. Violet's fellow lady sleuth is Reika, a friend who is half-Japanese, half-American, and all happy to have someone she can speak her first language with. Even before the acknowledgements at the end of the novel, it is clear that Renn did her research. She pays attention to cultural detail.

As for Violet, she never realizes that her comic book store boss was normal rather than overbearing. (Seriously, being asked to stock the store and not spend your time doodling or talking with a friend? Totally reasonable. Her former boss even tells her about a comic contest she can enter.) Fortunately, that's a very minor character quibble and most people aren't going to care about it like me. Plus, she proves her mettle in other ways. She's dedicated to solving the mystery and protecting her father. She keeps working on her own comic, Kimono Girl, (including revising!) and helps the Yamadas catalog their art collection.
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Format: Hardcover
I wanted to love this book - the concept sounds cute and fun. But there were just too many things that bugged me, so Tokyo Heist ended up being pretty hard for me to get through.

When I first read the description, I thought I'd love all the stuff about Japanese culture because it's such a unique backdrop for a YA novel. And I did like finding out stuff about Japan. A friend of mine is kind of obsessed with all things Japanese, and it was fun seeing things she'd told me about in this novel. But after a while, it got too much. I lost track of all the Japanese terms, and it just got annoying. The same thing goes for everything related to art and manga - it was interesting in the beginning, but I got bored by it towards the end.

I know not every book has to be character-driven, but characters are what make books worthwhile for me, and I was not a fan of the ones in Tokyo Heist. Violet is a flat main character - she's the typical quiet girl we've read about a million times, the only thing making her stand out being the manga. It also bugged me how immature Violet is - she's sixteen, but she acts younger, and her immaturity and naivete had me rolling my eyes quite a few times. The rest of the characters don't have real personalities, either, they're just kind of... there.

I was expecting a fun, fast-paced mystery, but that's not what I got from Tokyo Heist. The mystery somehow managed to be both predictable and confusing - it was predictable because the villain was obvious from the start, and confusing because there were so many minor details that I found hard to keep track of, although the latter might have been because I read the book so slowly. Either way, the story dragged on, and the mystery bored me.

Then there's the romance.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm not big into mysteries. But there was just something about this blurb that made me want to read this book. Maybe it was the mention of a protagonist who reads manga, or maybe it was the fact that 2/3 of the book takes place in Japan - I don't know, but I had to read this book when I saw the blurb last year. And thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.

This is one of my first ventures into YA mystery territory, and now I'm thinking I might need to give more mystery books a chance. I really enjoyed watching this story unfold, watching Violet really come into her own as she unraveled the mystery of the stolen art. The mystery aspect of this book reminded me a little of the movie "Oceans 11" for some reason...not sure why, but that's okay because I loved that movie!

But really, my favorite part of the book was the fact that it took place in Japan. As I've said before, I love it when books are set in foreign countries. It just makes the story come alive for me. I don't know a lot about Japan or Japanese culture, and I felt like this book does a good job of explaining a lot of cultural customs and history of the region.

I also liked that there is basically zero romance in this book. It maybe makes an appearance on like 5 pages total. It was nice to have a book that was exciting and readable that didn't have anything to do with romance. Hard to find those - at least for me, who loves a good romance! :)

My only complaint was that I sometimes felt the book dragged a little. There were a few bits in the middle that were a little slow. Also, I figured out who the bad guy was early on, so I wish it had been more difficult to figure out. Besides that, though, this was a great read! I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good 2012 debut, a fun mystery, or a book set in a different country.
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