REVIEW #98: How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kristen Miller

Title: How to Lead a Life of Crime
Author: Kristen Miller
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: February 21, 2013
Pages: 434, Hardcover

A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?


"'In this world, Jude, there are only the weak and the strong,' he liked to say - and no matter how much Scotch was in him, he never slurred his words. 'If you're born weak, you need to suffer before you grow strong. And those of us who are strong should fight everyday to avoid growing weak. Never show mercy to anyone who refuses to suffer or fight. They're inferior beasts, and the world would be better without them.'"

WOO I am so happy that Kay at It's a Book Life read and loved this, otherwise I'm not sure when I would have picked it up. This book is flying largely under the radar and I don't understand why - it was AWESOME.

So there's this school called The Mandel Academy and it trains the world's future leaders... to be criminals. Promising but troubled teens with nothing to lose are brought to the academy, primed and polished, and taught to lie, cheat, and steal, and any other skill that will help them get ahead. The strong survive and the weak perish, quite literally.

Flick voluntarily enrolls at The Mandel Academy. His prize for graduating? The proof that will send his father to jail for murdering his brother. But Lucian Mandel has other ideas - to turn Flick into a Sociopath, which he believes he can do by "turning on" a gene in Flick by applying the right pressure. There is no way out of The Mandel Academy except graduation. And to graduate, Flick must become as cold and cunning as his father. 

"'Psychopaths are born, Caleb and Ivan have always been the way they are now. Sociopaths, however, must be made.'"

Although this book is cruel and unforgiving I freaking loved it. Since only a certain number of kids could graduate each year, and since the bottom of the group was constantly trimmed, there was insane competition. It was like the jungle in this school, every man for himself, and I ate it up. The kids were effing crazy and you never knew what they were going to do next. There are no rules and nobody plays fair. Flick comes in and asserts his dominance and I just loved him for putting the others in their place. But I was just waiting for him to get his in return. Seriously, there was always something happening in this book, something to look forward too. it was constant action and I couldn't read fast enough. 

Things really start getting interesting when Joi (Flick's love interest) shows up at the academy. You think he's going to have to save her, right? WRONG. Girl is fierce and takes the academy by storm. My god, there is nothing I love more than a woman who is equally, if not MORE, capable than a man. She was totally bad ass and blows up the whole operation. The ending was fantastic.

Right, so I loved this book. The concept was fresh and exciting and the characters were fascinating. It was suspenseful, exhilarating and unpredictable. BUT it was also violent, savage and merciless. I enjoyed it but it might not be for everyone. Proceed with caution ye faint of heart. ;)

"'If you really want to 'cull' the herd, you're going to need an army of serial killers, not a bunch of politicians and investment bankers.'

'You're thinking too small! Even successful serial killers only dispose of two or three dozen people at most. But the academy is producing politicians who can start wars that eliminate thousands. Investment bankers who will plunder the nation's resources. Our businesspeople will build factories that will pollute the prey's water. We will sell them food that poisons their bodies. We will coat their children's toys with toxic paint - and put chemicals in their toiletries that will leave them sterile. We will do whatever it takes to ensure that our species survives.'"



  1. Wow, I keep hearing great things about this one, but I haven't picked it up yet. I guess that needs to change soon. This was a great review. I mean the concept behind this book sounds brilliant. There is nothing more intriguing then a bunch of kids acting cray cray!

    1. It was seriously so much fun. but really well done to make it deserving of 5 stars.

  2. I'm so glad you liked this! (Huge smile on my face. I'm glad I didn't steer your wrong. I can't always guarantee that in the future.) I thought you would. I loved this book, it is contending for best book of the year that I have read so far. :) It gets really intense and is very violent at times but like you I loved it. I don't know why it hasn't been around more on the blogs. Sadness.

    1. I know - why haven't more people read this? It was awesome! I am so glad you recommended it! I know our tastes won't always align but I'm happy to read what you recommend anyway!


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