For those seeking for fast-paced stories with fancy settings
One of my favourite book genres is Young Adult (YA) filled with con artists, skilful thieves, and secret spies. There is no other genre that can deliver such thriller and curiosity about what happens next. Not to mention the surprise element to the adventure. Here are some of my recommended books of the respective genre:
1. The Curse Workers-Holly Black Books: #1 White Cat, #2 Red Glove, #3 Black Heart
Plot: in an alternative world, there live gifted people with special abilities. Often these people work as con artists who can trick normal people into getting what they want by mere physical touch. That's why the normal people must wear gloves to avoid these "curse workers". The series revolves around the Sharpe family, mainly Cassel, the youngest. Unlike his family, he has no powers, so he feels ostracised. But who knows Cassel might have the greatest and rarest power dormant inside him? Soon Cassel finds himself ironically trapped in a grand con that he must escape.
What's great about this series: Curse Workers is superpowers and cons combined. It's heroic but unrighteous at the same time. It's scandalous; there are a lot of elements from urban fantasy, juicy romance, tricks, betrayals, heists… to many coffee references. If you like dark books with unexpected surprises, then this is for you.
2. The Heist Society-Ally Carter Books: #1 The Heist Society, #2 Uncommon Criminals, #3 Perfect Scoundrels
Plot: Kat just wants to live a normal, schoolgirl life. Even though she comes from a line of famous and legendary thieves, she wants to redeem herself and just go to school. However, things are never that easy. When her father is accused of stealing something he didn't, Kat must clean his name. Inevitably, Kat has to go back to her "legacy" to save his father, creating clever cons, stealing famous paintings, and living in the ever-dynamic world of thievery. To pull a job, she also needs her crew who each has a specialty. And maybe some unexpected allies, too.
What's great about this series: I really like Carter's luxurious descriptions in the book. The characters go to expensive museums, steal artistic paintings (even though fictional), and live in grandiose mansions (thanks to one of Kat's wealthy friends, Hale). Reading these writings make you feel like you're watching a James Bond movie with all the excessive settings. The books also have a dynamic, fast-paced flow that you can't stop reading.
3. Gallagher Girls-Ally Carter Books: #1 I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You, #2 Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy, #3 Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover, #4 Only The Good Spy Young, #5 Out Of Sight, Out Of Time, #6 United We Spy (coming September 2013)
Plot: The series centres around girls studying at Gallagher academy, a prestigious but secret school that trains spies-to-be. CIA, FBI, and all intelligence agencies would scout graduates of this academy to work with them. The first three books' main settings have been inside the school, but starting from book four, a bigger, worldwide threat forces the girls to get out of their comfort zone.
What's great about this series: unlike the two aforementioned series, Gallagher Girls is much lighter to read. It has the most humour, but the plot is still there going strong and steady. Moreover, since there are a lot of books, you get to see a huge development of a lot of the characters. I'm particularly very happy with the latter books, where the story is much more mature, challenging, and emotional.