Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
Why I Read This:
The premise intrigued me. A little hype in the blog world didn't hurt.
First of all - this book has an incredibly sophisticated writing style for young adult book. The voice of the narrator is beautiful and sort of old fashioned. It's more tightly packed than I'm used to reading in a young adult book. I thought that was excellent. Gabrielle Zevin has shown that a fun book can also be well written. That being said, I have to agree with one reviewer on Goodreads who said the writing and point of view took a little time to get used it. It's definitely not a common storytelling voice, that's for sure!
Secondly - I was a little worried when I first heard about this book that it would turn out to be too gimmicky. A world where coffee and chocolate is banned? Sounds horrendous, but if not done right it could turn out to be awefully cheesy. Luckily for me, I didn't find it to be the slightest bit gimmicky or cheesy. The chocolate, although part of the story actually felt rather secondary to the plot. Instead, I'd say the focus of this book is much more about family obligations, and the life of a mobster daughter. Birthright is most definitely the appropriate title for this series. And after having finished All These Things I've Done, that storyline has me even more intrigued to find out what happens next. The allegory to today's world and the insight into the way a crime family (and their children's place in it) might work on a familial and personal level could turn out to be a very moving tale.
Overall, a brilliant concept. One that might have a lot of authors saying "why didn't I think of that?" How many people out there have been upset at their lack of chocolate or coffee?This is a well written story and I definitely recommend it. I think this is one that could appeal to adults of all ages as well as teens.
I bought my copy.
Under-Cover Sundays (12): All These Things I've Done
Friday Teasers: Book Beginnings, The Friday 56, and Trailer