This is the first book I’ve read by Pike, and if it’s indicative of her writing, I’ll definitely be back for more! Life After Theft is a hilarious, expectedly emotional read that grabbed me from the very first page. I appreciate that the book isn’t part of a series, because it’s just perfect the way it is and I would have been disappointed if the story was made any longer.
I wasn’t expecting Life After Theft to be narrated solely from Jeff’s point of view. I think it’s refreshing, and I really liked Jeff’s voice. I think some authors, both female and male, struggle to write believable characters of the opposite sex, often blending them with some unrealistic ideals. But Jeff and I have more in common than I would have initially thought, and I love the way he is written.
His confusion at seeing Kimberlee, the way he reluctantly agrees to help her, and the hilarity that ensues as he realises just how much of a kleptomaniac she was in life all sucked me into the story. But underneath the comedic aspect of the book is a deep and real look at teenaged life, and how no one’s life is perfect, no matter how everything looks from the outside. The seriousness of Kimberlee’s problems throughout her life is well-balanced with the quest to return all the things she stole. I think the plot is masterfully woven, with the various elements weaving together to create a fun and quirky story.
Another awesome thing about this book: no love triangle! Jeff sees a gorgeous cheerleader in the hallway on his first day of school, and is immediately attracted to her. I think this is realistic, and have no problems with insta-lust in books, but what I really like is that their relationship developed sweetly, realistically. Yes, we were using the L-word by the end of the book, but I don’t think it was un-called for. I hadn’t expected Kimberlee to harbour such a fierce dislike of Jeff’s choice in girlfriends, and the secrets that were slowly unveiled about the two of them were intriguing.
The only negative thing I have to say about Life After Theft will probably make you laugh, but I found myself very quickly tiring of Jeff’s hate for his school’s uniform. I understand that US schools mostly don’t have a uniform policy, and it was a massive shock for Jeff to attend a school with a uniform, but the situation really drew attention to the way teens judge one another on their fashion. It’s not only Jeff’s constant griping about the uniform, or Kimberlee’s insistence on a whole new outfit for him the first time he meets his peers outside of a school setting, it was throw away comments like “you never realise now much you use clothes to describe people until you go to a uniformed school where everyone is a freaking clone” and “when you go to a school with uniforms, it’s a little hard to tell who’s preppy and who’s goth”. Jeff really, truly struggles to judge which students fit which stereotype in his high-school, and it’s really weird for me, because here in Australia most of our schools have uniforms, and I’ve never had trouble describing someone, or judging whether they were ‘goth’ or not, etc. I think this is a cultural difference, and perhaps US readers will really get where Jeff is coming from, but I didn’t like the superficiality of it all.
I highly recommend Life After Theft highly to readers looking for a lighter read. It’s very different from what I usually read, and I really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to reading more books by this brilliant author in the future (I have Earthbound, so yay!).