YA Dystopia (Though I don’t think it’s truly a dystopian because this wasn’t ever a “perfect” or perfectly conceived society, merely the degrading of our present society, giving way to scarce resources and the rise of crime and crime families.)
Available Sept. 6, 2011
Review copy provided by publisher
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 accidentally 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.
Positive: The family: Anya, her siblings, and her Nana. They’re a tight-knit family unit that holds together and supports each other despite murders, terrible accidents, lingering sickness, and mafia connections that do more harm than good. There’s an awful lot going on with this family and forces moving against them but still they hold strong.
Positive: The Family. I love the mafia element in this book and wish there was more of the Family! Not that they were good people but the mafia and Anya’s Family connections really lend to the overall atmosphere of the story’s setting and are crucial to the conflicts.
Positive: Anya. She’s such an incredibly strong character who, despite that strength, has some weaknesses. She does her best to hold her nuclear family together though she’s forced to make some difficult choices to do so. Because she’s been pretty much the whole family’s caregiver and leader since she was nine, she’s so much more mature than her physical age.
Wish: Stop speaking directly to the reader. While it works for Charles Dickens, dear Reader, it merely serves to pull me completely out of the story. (That and the asides. I know I do that here but it gets annoying in the novel. Show, don’t tell, please.) I’m sure some like it but it just distracted me.
Wish: More explanations about Anya’s world. Why was chocolate banned in the US but legal in other countries? Why did they have to go to a local speakeasy to drink coffee or anything with caffeine but anyone/any age could drink alcohol? Why was paper in short supply? What happened to everyone using cell phones and computers? Why were the flowers such a big deal? What happened to the Statue of Liberty? What happened that the US fell into such disrepair? While I like the world I was plunged into, I still want to know the answers to all those questions.
Overall: Despite my two wishes, I ended up really enjoying this book and Anya. GoodReads lists this as Birthright #1, so I’m assuming we’ll be reading more of Anya, her Family, and her star-crossed love, Will, in the future.
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