Released: June 14, 2012
Source: Cavalier House Books
Sixteen-year-old Violet loves reading manga and wearing scarves made from kimono fabric, so she’s thrilled that her father’s new painting commission means a summer trip to Japan. But what starts as an exotic vacation quickly turns into a dangerous treasure hunt.I realize this sounds extremely negative, but I wish I hadn't finished this book so I wouldn't have to write a review. That way I could just link to Forever Young Adult's review and say, "what she said," and link to other bloggers who loved it.*
Her father’s newest clients, the Yamada family, are the victims of a high-profile art robbery: van Gogh sketches have been stolen from their home, and, until they can produce the corresponding painting, everyone's lives are in danger -- including Violet's and her father's.
Violet’s search for the missing van Gogh takes her from the Seattle Art Museum, to the yakuza-infested streets of Tokyo, to a secluded inn in Kyoto. As the mystery thickens, Violet’s not sure whom she can trust. But she knows one thing: she has to solve the mystery -- before it’s too late.
I most definitely did not love this book, but I also didn't hate it. (I think that's why I'm having such trouble conveying my feelings - I'm just indifferent.) Violet was not a character that clicked with me. She was so wrapped up in all things Japan, it felt like she'd rather hide away in her art like Kimono Girl, the main character in the manga she created, rather than deal with her actual life.
I also took huge issue with Violet's family and the way they treated her compared to the way she was viewed by the Yamadas and the police. Violet's dad certainly was not the most stable of parents, but the way he went from being ridiculously absent to ridiculously over-protective practically gave me whiplash. And the fact that Violet never so much as had a phone conversation with her mom as she's traveling across the world being chased by the Japanese mafia seemed improbable. While on the other hand, the Yamadas were quick to share very detailed information about the items stolen, and the FBI were all-ears when the random teenager offered up a theory. I found all this to be extremely glossed over and unrealistic.
I did, several times, think very seriously about putting this one aside and moving on to more promising things. But ultimately I did care about the painting, and I wanted to know what happened to it. I really wish I would have liked this one more because in theory it's one hell of a book. I just didn't mesh with its execution.
Raves: Hobbitsies | IceyBooks | The Reading Date
*I am doing this anyway, as FYA's review sums up a lot of my feelings (especially the comparisons to MG), and I think it's important to note how much others have LOVED this book. I truly believe this is a case of, "It's not you, it's me."
FTC: I received an ARC of this novel from Penguin via Cavalier House Books in exchange for an honest review.