by Gabrielle Zevin
To be published by FSG/Macmillan BYR
on September 18, 2012
Source: Received ARC from the publisher at BEA. Read my review policy/disclosure here.
Series report: Dive right in! Gabrielle Zevin ingeniously uses Anya's exit interview from the Liberty Children's facility to recap a few major plot points.
Spoiler-free summary of All These Things I've Done: It's 2083 in Manhattan. Coffee and chocolate are illegal and water is scarce. Anya Ballantine is a mafia princess -- her family manufactures and sells black market chocolate -- who looks after her brother, sister, and grandmother after her parents' deaths. A power struggle is brewing over control of the Balanchine empire, and Anya's stuck in the middle. Then Anya's ex-boyfriend is poisoned by a bar of Balanchine chocolate, and she's the prime suspect. All this complicates her growing attraction to Win Delacroix, son of the city's district attorney. Needless to say, neither of their families are very happy about the relationship.
Spoiler-free summary of Because It Is My Blood: Anya's just been released from juvie and is determined to put her life back together. That could be a bit of a problem. Her old high school doesn't want her back, and Win Delacroix seems to have found a new girlfriend while she was locked up. If that's not bad enough, strange "accidents" seem to be happening all around her. Anya is forced into hiding on a cacao plantation, where she'll learn more about the strange plant that is so much a part of her birthright, and also have time to reflect upon the part she needs -- and wants -- to play in the Balanchine empire.
"I regretted nothing."My thoughts: If I ever played matchmaker between two YA characters, I would introduce Anya to Cassel Sharpe in the Curseworkers series by Holly Black. Both of them have had to grow up way too fast, both of them want to do the right thing, and neither of them ever seems to be able to get away from their close-knit but amoral families. Even if there wasn't a romantic spark between them, they could be great friends.
Anya's a fantastic female character: tough and wry and world-weary. "Poor me" just isn't in her vocabulary. Whatever the job is, she gets it done. I loved her deadpan humor, and her humorous asides to the reader.
"That was the thing about organized crime families -- you shouldn't bother getting too attached to anyone."Win. He's not a big part of this book and I have mixed feelings about that. I recently pointed out that often in book two of a trilogy, the couple gets separated. Because It Is My Blood definitely follows that pattern. On the plus side, the story doesn't have to balance real plot developments with make-out sessions and stuff. Also on the plus side, Anya really gets a chance to grow as a person in this book. On the negative side, Anya felt a little bit adrift emotionally and geographically for a large stretch of the book.
Yes, I was also sad to see this book move away from Manhattan, but I like Anya enough to follow her wherever she want to go. The cacao plantation was interesting, though, and I gained a new appreciation for all the varied uses of the machete. Anya eventually does make it back to New York, where she makes a decision and a new alliance that will spin her life -- and this series -- into an interesting new direction.
Have you tried this series?
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