Review: Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst
Also by this author: The Deepest Blue
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on December 4, 2018
In Sky Hawkins's family, leading your first heist is a major milestone--even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It's a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you're a wyvern--a human capable of turning into a dragon.
Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family's wealth and rank in their community.
With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society--a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.
While most people enjoy a good heist (at least as a story), no one appreciates heists more than the wyverns featured in the world Sky Hawkins lives in. It’s pretty much just like our world, but with a race of people called wyverns (or as Sky likes to call them: were-dragons). They are descendants of dragons that came to this world and love their hordes of treasure. What people outside of the wyvern community don’t realize is that wyverns are basically raised to be thieves, and running their first heist is a critical right of passage that will determine your status among wyvern society.
Sky is the youngest and only girl in a very wealthy and powerful family. The personalities of her older brothers vary. And while her family has been wealthy and powerful, they are not the well respected family they once were with wyvern society. There was some sort of scandal involving her Sky’s mother who disappeared last year that caused the people they once considered friends to turn on them. Sky doesn’t know or understand what happened, she just knows on top of losing her mother, she has lost so many things in life since then, her friends and boyfriend, both of which you would think would help her through this hard time, not abandon her. It’s another layer of pain and loss, but Sky is Sky and while it hurts, she won’t let them keep her down for long.
This loss is motivating Sky to find out more about what happened with her mother and also to pull off her first heist, with or without the help of her family. She is certain she can restore her family to what they once were if only she can execute a heist that will impress them to the point they just have to. She is determined and won’t let anyone keep her from doing whatever she can to accomplish this, even if it means she has to work on her own. (Luckily, she does find a couple of unlikely people to join her for her heist.)
The book is definitely aimed for a young adult audience, or honestly, possibly even younger. The short length means that there is just not the opportunity or page space to required to fully develop every character. Because of this, they can tend to feel a bit shallow or like caricatures, but given the type of book it is (which is about adventure and dragons and heists), I think that is OK. I don’t need to know a full backstory or motivational rationale for every character’s actions.
The other issue with the brevity of the story is that some of the ways magic works seems a bit over the top or easy. A huge discovery that will had absolutely huge implications for the end of this book and I suspect future books as well, was literally just a simple thought. It’s something so simple I just can’t believe that a child hadn’t accidentally stumbled onto it at some point. I think this boils down to this being a book that was really targeted for a younger audience and
This is a great book about being strong, to know how to recognize who your true friends are, and also to realize you might not know the entire story, to not jump to conclusions. It is a story of friendship and working together and not giving up. But keep in mind this is a fun story for kids, and if you go in with a critical eye or expectations of complex world building, you will end up disappointed.