When I was a kid, my dad loved watching Ocean’s Eleven — the original 1960 movie starring the Rat Pack, although when the remake starring George Clooney came out, we loved that one, too. The Ocean movies were what sparked my love for heist stories. I love the complex plotting and planning, the knowledge that something is always bound to go wrong, the twists, the double cross…the whole shebang. Heists are a very specific kind of story that gets you rooting for someone who everyone else might see as the villain, and there’s just something a bit exhilarating about that!
Heist stories on the page are just as fun as they are on the big screen. In recent years, heist novels have become a trend in YA, with offerings from sci-fi and fantasy to contemporary fiction. This round-up of YA heist novels includes popular and under-the-radar titles, old favorites and new releases, and spans a ton of genres. From the Titanic to the depths of futuristic Las Vegas, these exciting stories have it all — a perfect score, high stakes, a ragtag crew, unexpected twists, and enough action to keep you on the edge of your seats.
Aces Wild by Amanda DeWitt
Jack is the son of a casino mogul, and when it comes to rules, he likes to play fast and loose. When his mom is arrested, it seems like the family’s luck is running out…but Jack knows his mom was set up. He recruits his closest friends — other teens he met in an online asexual support group — to pull off an epic heist to find out what exactly the man who sold out his mom has over her head. It might involve breaking into one of the most secretive (and dangerous) clubs in Vegas.
A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar
Four girls from very different backgrounds board the Titanic on its maiden voyage with one goal in mind: stealing the Rubiyat, a jewel-encrusted book kept in a vault on the ship worth millions. They have a plan and the skills to pull it off, but the one twist they can’t prepare for? A supposedly unsinkable ship sinking in the middle of the Atlantic.
Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley
Perry’s plans for the summer involve slacking off and fishing, but when she’s roped into a tribal internship program, she’s horrified to find herself assigned to the tribal museum for work-study. At first, Perry can’t imagine a more boring job, but when the museum curator teaches her about the theft of precious tribe artifacts and even the remains of their ancestors, Perry becomes livid. There is a legal process for repatriation, but it takes years and isn’t always successful. And then Perry wonders…perhaps she can take back what belongs to her tribe by working outside of the law.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Kaz Brekkar has become a crime boss in the port city of Ketterdam, where crime, trade, and excitement can be found around every corner. When he’s offered a job that would make him richer than he could ever imagine and get revenge on an old enemy, he can’t resist. He assembles his crew of old and new friends, but it turns out that this job is far from simple, and it could end up costing them everything.
Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig
Margo Manning lives a charmed life as a rich socialite, but at night, she and her band of drag queens pull off audacious heists to right a myriad of injustices. When Margo’s life takes a turn, and she finds herself running out of options, she and her crew must stake everything on one impossible heist…or lose everything.
Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis
Ross Quest is the daughter of notorious criminals, and she’s picked up a few tricks. But she wants nothing more than to leave that life behind and go straight. Unfortunately for her, her plans to do just that backfire spectacularly. In order to escape unscathed, she’s forced to partake in Thieves’ Gambit, an international heist competition that has her going up against old friends and new enemies.
Heist Society by Ally Carter
Stealing runs in Kat’s family, but she doesn’t want anything to do with it. She’s successfully escaped that life when a gallery of priceless paintings disappears, and her father is pinned as the culprit. Knowing that a far more dangerous mobster is really behind the theft, Kat now has two weeks and only a few teenage friends to help her steal back the stolen paintings to clear her dad’s name.
Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn
Violet is spending the summer with her dad, an artist, when she learns that her dad’s patrons, a Japanese couple, have had priceless Van Gogh sketches stolen from their home…and Violet and her dad get sucked in. With danger closing in on them and time running out, Violet and her best friend find themselves traveling from Seattle to Japan in an attempt to recover the art before it’s too late.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Set in an alternate historical Paris at the height of the World’s Fair, this book follows Severin, who must steal a highly coveted object exhibited at the fair in order to restore his place in society. He pulls together his crew — amongst them a girl he can’t help but fall for — but soon finds that his drive for revenge and power could put everyone’s lives at risk.
Into the Sunken City by Dinesh Thuru (January 23, 2024)
Set in futuristic United States, Jin is just trying to make ends meet for herself and her little sister since they lost their father in a diving accident. But when a drifter tells Jin about a life-changing treasure underwater in the sunken city of Las Vegas, it seems too good to resist. The only problem? The elaborate plan will require Jin to face her fears and dive back into the water in order to access the treasure.
The Absinthe Underground by Jamie Pacton (February 6, 2024)
Sybil and Esme are two loners in the city of Severon who have no one to rely on but each other. Sybil is determined to better their circumstances and concocts a plan to steal posters in order to do so. But when her thefts attract the attention of none other than a Faerie, she offers them a dangerous job to sneak into the land of Fae and steal something that would set her free. The heist would put them far out of their element, but it’s too good an opportunity to pass up.
Medici Heist by Caitlin Schneiderhan (August 6, 2024)
It’s 1517 in Florence, Italy, and Rosa Cellini has just arrived — at the same time that a new pope is coming into power. The Pope has been extorting money from the people in order to bolster his standing, and Rosa is determined to steal that money and give it back, but she’ll need a lot of help in order to do so. She sets about assembling her crew, which includes an unlikely gang…and even Michelangelo himself.
Want more great heist novels? Check out these thrilling fantasy heist novels.