“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.”
Ok…if I’m being honest, the first thing that drew me to this novel was it’s “Dystopian-esq” synopsis.
“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.”
Interesting right? I thought so too. BUT…don’t let the synopsis fool you. Even though I found the book entertaining, it is less of a dystopian and more of a prohibition type read. Why? Well for starters there’s a heavy mob footing in this book, (starting with Anya’s father…a dead crime boss.) if that wasn’t enough, there are dirty politicians, bribes, hits (as in.. “Hey Vinny, I need you to make Carl swim with the fishes”) and enough illegal activity to make Tony Montoya proud.
So what does this mean for the book itself? Let’s start with the writing.
As a whole, the writing was good, but if you break it down and really pay attention, there are little nuances throughout the book that are going to drive you crazy. First there is the flagrant use of the word “Daddy.” Since Anya is now solely responsible for keeping her family together (her grandma is bed ridden and her older brother’s development is slightly stunted due to a wreck) she relies a lot on left over wisdom from her father. This would actually be ok, (endearing in fact) if every other sentences wasn’t a rehashing of “My Daddy said…” After 4 or so chapters you will find yourself wishing “daddy” were still alive so he could just speak for himself. My second issue is the lack of plot focus. This doesn’t necessarily effect the entire book, but there are several occasions where the forward movement of the book almost stops completely, (yeah, that’s NOT a good thing.) AND…most of these little pauses come with a note from the “narrator” telling you things like “I’m not boy crazy, keep reading.” Luckily for Zevin, she had enough action (and angst) in her story to bring it back around, but there were definitely a few chapters that could have been edited out.
As for the characters themselves…I LOVED Win. He was honest, persistent, funny and (by the end of the book) tough. How so? Well, out of all of the characters Win had the most difficult task. (This is going to sound weird considering the book was about Anya) He was forced to make hard decisions that would effect not only the his life, but his family’s, he was forced to grow in unforeseen ways, and in the end was broken. All of these things made up one hell of an interesting person. Anya on the other hand was a tad grating. I’m not saying I didn’t like her (or appreciate her familial sacrifices) I just think the author could have spent a little more time developing HER instead of developing her “perceptions” (Does that make sense?)
Overall…I thought the book was interesting. It definitely had it’s up and down moments, and I did (despite my effort) find I was drawn to the characters by the end of the book. So do I think it is worth your time? Sure..why not, but my advice would be to wait until you have a lull in your “to be read list” before you pounce on it.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Not everyone can be bought…some people have morals. Not me of course…but some people.
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