Reviewing COIN HEIST by Elisa Ludwig--Now ALSO a Netflix Movie!!!!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  ART CLASS WAS PRETTY MUCH my downfall. So far I was barely hanging on to a C minus, which meant I really had to focus on what Mr. Rankin was saying as he rocked in his Campers and pointed at the digital projection of falling coins lighting up the wall of the Philadelphia Mint Lobby. Something about art and language? Culture and power? Art being currency? Currency being power?

  "The Design of Everything" had a reputation as one of the better electives for juniors at Haverford Friends. With his hipster cardigans and blondish goatee scruff, Rankin looked like he lived and breathed art, and his lectures proved it. He was a great teacher. And I was an otherwise excellent student. But here we were, on a field trip on a snowy February day, and try as I might, I couldn't tune in. It was all so...abstract. So fuzzy. Give me a bunch of numbers any day.

(pgs. 1-2, US ARC edition)

Coin Heist launched on Netflix this past Friday as a Netflix Original Movie. 
Check it out!!!

Are you looking for something light and fun to sweep you away that's Ocean's 11 meets The Breakfast Club? Look no further than COIN HEIST by Elisa Ludwig, a YA caper that just became a Netflix original movie!

I watched the movie AND read the book this past weekend, so I can tell you a little bit about both of them!

For one thing, you can both read the book and watch the movie and not be bored. The two are VERY similar to one another, but different enough to keep you guessing as well. I decided to watch the movie first, then read the book--and normally, I do it the other way around!

Both versions of the story center around four teens:

Jason's dad is the headmaster at Haverford Friends...and he's just been arrested for embezzling school funds. The school has had to cancel all clubs except for yearbook and the newspaper, and par down on the upcoming prom. Staff salaries have been cut as well, and school lunches have gone from healthy to from-a-can. The school will close at the end of the year...unless Jason and his classmates can do the impossible.

After a class trip to the Philadelphia Mint, Alice notices a security glitch that could allow her to hack into the system and put a rare coin into circulation, turning a hefty profit. Alice and Jason decide to go ahead with the plan in order to make money to save their school, and are eventually joined in their plans by class It Girl Dakota and in-danger-of-losing-his-future-thanks-to-a-pulled-scholarship-student Benny. The quartet has never really interacted much, being from different social circles, but together, maybe they have enough smarts to pull off a crazy heist and save their school.

One thing I really liked about the movie was the way you can see coins being made, and see the heist in action. It's very visual in a way my brain wouldn't have portrayed on its own. The cast is made up of Sasha Pieterse (of Pretty Little Liars fame), Alex Saxon (The Fosters, Finding Carter), and YouTube vloggers Jay Walker and Alexis G. Zall:

(L to R: Jay Walker as Benny, Alex Saxon as Jason,
Alexis G. Zall as Alice, Sasha Pieterse as Dakota)
The book gets into characters heads a little more. Readers see what they're thinking, and thrill in what they're feeling. There are also a couple of serious issues not brought up in the movie that are raised in the lives of various characters, from their messy home lives to their own disorders and ways of coping in life to diverse issues such as parents living in other countries and attending school on scholarship in order to be the first in the family to get ahead. Dakota's character is probably the most changed in the two versions, and I understand Benny and Jason so much more through the book, but Alice is fierce and awesome no matter what version she's in!

What's really interesting about COIN HEIST is the fact that the movie hails from Adaptive Studios. Last June, when Barnes and Noble stores across the country held its first annual Teen BFest, one of the events was a Writing Workshop I attended that featured various book titles from Adaptive Studios. Everyone got little booklets that talked about how Adaptive Studios took failed screenplays, had writers convert them to books, then worked to make a new screenplay that could eventually lead to a successful movie or TV series. Of all the ideas mentioned at the Workshop, the one that appealed to me most was the look we got at COIN HEIST. 

Here's a really cool, in-depth look at how Adaptive Studios works if you want more details!
Check out the process here!

At first, the title appealed to me because Elisa Ludwig is a local author that I've met before. Plus, the book takes place in Philadelphia, which isn't so far from me, and how cool is that?? 

I really got pulled in hook, line, and sinker by the concept and wanted to know how everything would turn out. COIN HEIST has been on my radar ever since. (Although I'm pretty sure it changed between drafts here, too, because I initially recall teacher involvement? I'd have to get ahold of the workshop booklet and double check! I'd love to see how it evolved even further!)

Seriously, you guys!!

When I found out it was going to be a Netflix original movie and it was going to be available starting January 6th? I watched it on...January 6th! And then immediately started reading the book! (And what's ironic about that is that I'd just FINISHED reading SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo the day before, so all of a sudden I'm in the mood for capers, I guess!)

Granted, COIN HEIST isn't something likely to happen in real life, but the idea of it is a fun, entertaining way to pass the time. I read the book in one sitting! And seriously, I want to take a trip sometime and go visit the Philadelphia Mint now. I always subconsciously knew it was in Philadelphia, because my NJ grandmother used to teach us how to collect quarters and taught us our Ps vs our Ds--and Ds were really hard to get unless our grandparents in Arizona saved some for us, just because we were so close to where the Ps were made. But I guess I really never processed the fact that I lived so close to the place where money is made. For as close as I am to Philadelphia, I've been there so infrequently in my life. New York City is more the city I know like the back of my hand than my own home city is (Which is kind of sad, I know, but true, too!). But after reading and watching COIN HEIST, I need to take a tour of the Mint! I'll probably wait a couple of years until my niece is old enough to take, because there's something extra-special about experiencing something new when a child's wonder opens your own eyes in new ways, but it's going to happen! And I probably would have never thought twice about it if not for how intriguing COIN HEIST made everything out to be!

Check out the movie trailer, and if you have Netflix, add it to your Queue now!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( Kissing. Innuendo about whether or not Dakota is a virgin, and an aside that Benny is not. But nothing sexual happens in the book, only light kissing. Same for the movie! )
Language: PG13 ( Cursing. Mostly standard stuff and name calling, but at least one f-bomb is dropped. 
Violence: --
Other:  PG13 ( Bullying. Eating disorders. Parents cheating and comments about the sexual innuendo they used in front of their teen. Underage drinking. Talk of smoking/acquiring weed by one of the characters. The characters plan a heist to break into the Philadelphia Mint and make their own money to sell for profit later, which includes forged IDs and getaway cars. The headmaster embezzles school funds. Sneaking into school after hours. )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

On the original cover, I like the way the title is on a slant and the way the N in Coin and the T in Heist come together:

I like that the four main characters are in silhouette. They're stealthy. They could be anybody.

I love the grid in the background, implying both cyberspace/hacking and floor plans for the heist.

I also like how the author's name is the same black as the silhouettes, pulling the cover together.

It's really interesting to look at!


Buuuuuuut I also love colors and the illusion of falling coins on the new Netflix-inspired cover!!!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Elisa Ludwig
Release Date: June 06, 2014
Publisher: Adaptive Studios
Received: For Review

The last place you’d expect to find a team of criminals is at a prestigious Philadelphia prep school. But on a class trip to the U.S. Mint – which prints a million new coins every 30 minutes – an overlooked security flaw becomes far too tempting for a small group of students to ignore. 

 United by dire circumstances, these unlikely allies – the slacker, the nerd, the athlete, and the "perfect" student – band together to attempt the impossible: rob the U.S. Mint. The diverse crew is forced to confront their true beliefs about each other and themselves as they do the wrong thing for the right reasons. 

Elisa Ludwig's COIN HEIST is a fun, suspenseful, and compelling thriller, told from the revolving perspectives of four teens, each with their own motive for committing a crime that could change all of their lives for the better—if they can pull it off.