Life After Theft started out with a bit of confusion. Taking a look at the clever title, cover, summary and the little marketing surrounding it, I had the impression that it would be a fun, paranormal read, much like Ally Carter’s Heist Society but with ghosts.
Talk about a seriously wrong first impression.
Despite what the surface leads you to believe, Aprilynne Pike’s follow-up to her popular Wings series is satisfying read that delves into some interesting teen and surprisingly dark issues.
Life After Theft finds Jeff at a new high school in a new city and new state. His father just hit the jackpot career-wise, and Jeff is adjusting to a new level of society and privilege. On his first day of school, he meets Kimberlee Schaffer. At first, he thinks she’s trying to prank the new guy when she says that she’s dead—a ghost— and that he’s the first person to ever see her since she died a few months ago. After a couple of experiments to prove to himself that he isn’t going mad, Jeff realizes that Kimberlee is in fact a ghost and reluctantly agrees to help her resolve some unfinished business so she can finally move on to the hereafter.
Just from that alone, I thought I was in store for something fun, light and probably girly. The confusion began in the first couple pages because I honestly thought that the story was to be told in Kimberlee’s POV. I soon realized that it was actually from Jeff’s perspective, who seems like a modest, practical kid adjusting to his new life and developing a huge crush on shy, beautiful girl, much to Kimberlee’s dismay.
As for Kim, the once popular mean girl is having a hard time dealing with death and being a ghost. This is when the book takes a different turn. Instead of being a fun and cute little quest to help Kim move on, it becomes a redeeming, dark, sad and even touching journey. Kimberlee secretly suffered from kleptomania, and not in the superficial way that we call our friends “kleptos” when they steal our French fries when our heads are turned. Kimberlee was suffering from the actual mental disorder, and it got so bad that she had an entire cave on her family’s property full of items she stole, all categorized by person and date. She asks Jeff to help her return all the items to their owners, thinking that she’ll be able to move on once it’s all returned. Jeff is overwhelmed, but he feels bad for Kimberlee and knows helping her is the right thing to do, not just for her but everyone else who was affected by Kim’s disorder.
I wasn’t crazy about Pike’s Wings. Luckily, Life After Theft was more of my kind of thing. I loved how it surprised me. The beginning felt superficial and like it was playing off the typical high school/teenager stereotypes. Before I knew it, we were dealing with real issues like bullying, sex, drugs, and even mental health. It was dealt in a realistic and somewhat deep way. Could Pike have delved a little deeper into some of these issues? Sure, but I don’t think it would’ve fit into this story well. It’s not completely dark; there are plenty of light hearted and funny scenarios that Jeff finds himself in. Even with the paranormal edge, the story and characters remained really grounded in reality. I just like that Pike touched on some of these issues and showed how it affected these characters. It made them and the story all the more meaningful.
This is definitely a book worth considering. Like I said, it’s totally not like a paranormal version of Heist Society or as fun as the marketing and cover may make it seem. Life After Theft is a worthy contemporary read with interesting characters and an unique and touching story.
Life After Theft will be available wherever books are sold on April 30, 2013. Support The Young Folks and purchase your copy at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
- Publisher: Harper Teen (April 30, 2013)
- Length: 352 pages (Hardcover)
- Series: N/A
- Source: ARC (Provided by publisher)
- Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal, Teen Issues
- Completed: March 2013