As a reader, I feel that I am relatively well-rounded. And by that I mean that I don't have a particular genre I stick to at the exclusion of all others. Sometimes, I'm in the mood for some interesting historical fiction; other times, I want a classic. Sometimes I want a parenting book (yes, I'm weird, I read parenting books for fun and not out of any sense of obligation) and occasionally, I even decide to go for a little fantasy. And within all those genres, I like a healthy mix of children's, middle-grade, young adult and adult.
A few weeks ago, I had just finished a disappointing adult fiction novel, so I was in the mood for something for the younger crowd; something that would be exciting and teeter on the edge of reality just a bit. The Thief had been on my list for over a year, and it seemed like it fit everything I was wanting at that moment.
When the story begins, Gen is in prison for theft. He wasn't in prison because he got caught, but rather because he was bragging about it after the fact. Turns out, he has an extraordinary talent for taking things which don't belong to him, and the king's magus releases him from prison with the assignment to steal Hamaithes' Gift, a precious stone with rare capabilities that the king wants. The journey is long and dangerous with an interesting mixture of trust and suspicion to go around. The ending is chock-full of surprises.
Greek mythology plays a key role in the story (several myths are told by Gen and the magus, and Gen must steal the stone from a temple which is protected by gods and goddesses), but I have had a distaste for myths since reading a book of them in the fourth grade, so to have them so prevalent throughout didn't really make the book immediately appealing to me.
The whole plot revolves around Gen, the magus and his two apprentices, and a soldier. I am not one to appreciate it when authors add a female or two in the hopes of appealing to a larger readership, BUT I will say that this story lacked some interest for me, and I think it was maybe because it was missing a girl (or that it was full of myths :-)).
I listened to this one (you know, all those hours of packing, cleaning, and unpacking), and the narrator was fine. But I did think that the way the voices were described in the book didn't always match with this narrator's particular interpretation. (For example, Turner describes Gen's voice as being on the rough and uneducated side, and I didn't feel like this was portrayed at all.)
The story itself was pretty slow-paced for me (especially with the ancient myth detour every other chapter), but the ending was fantastic. (And if there's anything that will instantly redeem a book for me, it's a great ending.) The whole time, I had the lurking feeling that there were some things that didn't quite make sense and that there was some secrecy among the characters. I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say that Gen is even more sly and cunning than I originally thought, and everything just plays out delightfully (except for the traitor...shhhh...).
So to sum it up, it wasn't my favorite book, but the ending was so good that I have no regrets reading it.
(Side note: everything I've looked at classifies this book as young adult, but it felt more middle-grade to me. I wonder if that's because the middle-grade category has matured in content in the last 16 years?)