Scholastic, 2014 272 pgs.
12-year-old March stands by while his father, and sole parent, plunges to his death from a rooftop in Amsterdam in the middle of a jewelry heist. A professional jewel thief, March's dad instructs him to "find Jewels" with his very last breath. "Jewels" turns out to be "Jules", a long-lost twin sister living with an aunt March didn't know he had. The reunited twins are sent back to the states to live in a perfectly horrible foster home where they become acquainted with Darius and Izzy. After Jules is kidnapped, the other three run away to New York City and rescue her from Dad's evil ex-partner. The ex-partner is after legendary moonstones, which are magical. A very wealthy lady seeks to acquire the now separated set of moonstones. The four young people now have to beat the clock to steal all the moonstones from various places before the next blue moon in order to be rewarded with millions of dollars. Unfortunately, they have to get the stones before the evil ex-partner does, as well as a tv star/ex-cop, who also seeks the fortune they will bring. While collecting the rare stones, Jules and March are also battling an old curse prophesying that they will fall to their deaths before their thirteenth birthday, which is mere days away. As more stones are gathered, the curse weighs heavier and heavier. The moonstones are at last brought back together and a rendezvous determined. Who will actually deliver the moonstones and collect the reward? Will March and Jules beat the prophesy and live to see age thirteen? What is the future of the young people with no adults to take care of them? All is revealed by books end in a satisfying conclusion.
Loot is a good, old-fashioned action/thriller. Surprises, plot twists, and interesting characters lurk behind every corner. The reader gets a vicarious glimpse into the life of a cat burglar/jewelry thief. Jules spends her childhood in a traveling acrobatic circus and has amazing aerial abilities, another life which children fantasize about exploring. The four kids are fearless and independent, each complimenting the other with separate skills that makes them an excellent team. They outwit the adults and take control of their own desperate situations. The plot never stops, twisting and turning at break neck speed. Secondary characters abound and the reader is never really sure who to trust, as people turn out to be not what they seem. Even though there were many characters, I had no trouble keeping them apart. This book is perfect for a reluctant reader. The chapters are short and the pages beg to be turned. Watson had me at the opening sequence when March is waiting for his father to complete the initial heist in Amsterdam. It doesn't hurt that the book also has an enticing cover. Loot is perfect for both girls and boys and would fill the bill for both adventure and mystery book reports. It is a stand-alone book, which is refreshing. Readers don't have to read the whole series to reach a conclusion. Watson leaves behind no loose threads as she wraps the plot up neatly and completely. Great escapism for a cold winters day!