By Diana Renn
My Rating: 3 / 5
The cover of this book caught my eye while I was at the library, and then I was intrigued by the synopsis (from Goodreads):
When sixteen-year-old Violet agrees to spend the summer with her father, an up-and-coming artist in Seattle, she has no idea what she’s walking into. 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.
This was an interesting book. I was really excited to read a book that takes place in Japan – I love reading books set in other places, places I’ve never been but would love to travel to – and the mystery sounded intriguing. Throw in an art theft? Yes please!
I’ve never really traveled, and Japan is definitely on my list of must-visit places, so I loved reading about Violet’s experiences in Japan, with the language, customs, food, etc.
The mystery itself was entertaining, but it was a little implausible at times in the way that Violet made some important discoveries based on hunches or coincidences. Also, the fact that she was able to figure things out before the FBI was a little difficult to believe, but if I could just suspend my sense of belief, I enjoyed it. While I did figure out who the culprit was early on, part of the fun was seeing Violet figure it out herself (a little too late, almost).
I liked the characters, and for a while, I was looking at pretty much everyone but Violet as a suspect. The relationship with her dad was interesting, as they seemed very distant and rarely saw each other. While her dad is reluctant to take her to Japan, where he’s been hired to paint a mural for the Yamada family, it turned out to be an experience that brought them closer together, in the end. I liked seeing the progression of their relationship. I also liked Violet’s friend Reika, who was staying in Japan over the summer and helped her piece things together.
I believe this is Renn’s first novel, and I would be interested to read her next. This book was well-written, and I liked the characters. I also appreciated that by the end of the book, Violet had developed some courage, and was able to go after things she wanted (the boy she liked, submitting her manga to a show, etc.).
Ultimately, while I don’t think this is a book that’s really going to stay with me, this was a fun read. If you’re looking for a fun, light-hearted YA mystery, I recommend this book.