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This was an interesting take on the dystopian-future YA trope - the main character gets involved in the "Chocolate Mafia," in a future where chocolate and coffee are outlawed. It reminded me of "The Hunger Games" crossed with "The Sopranos" - and if you like it there are two more in the series!
In a market crowded with teen dystopias, this book is a standout. First of all there are two truly terrifying laws in this dystopian society: chocolate and coffee are banned! I'm not sure I could live without those two substances. Fortunately, main character Anya belongs to a chocolate mafia family, so she had access to these and other contraband items. Though she is savvy and street-smart, Anya is unexpectedly sweet, for a mobster's daughter. She takes care of her siblings, studies hard in school, and is even a devout Catholic. This book had a lot of interesting twists and turns, and I look forward to reading the sequel.
I'm just going to get this out of the way: this book hinted at being better than it ultimately was, for me.
The mafia elements were well done, but also unbelievable (the paparazzi are staking out this inactive child of a mafioso who was killed 7 years ago, because there's nothing else of note in NYC? Really???). I liked the political intrigue in the family, but it was downplayed next to everything else. The way it was downplayed leads me to believe that the sequel will be dealing more with that, but this story wasn't engaging enough for me to keep reading the series.
In terms of characters, I really liked Scarlet and Anya. They felt believable, and their friendship was rock solid. The one bothering aspect was Anya's sudden parroting of her father (again, who was murdered when she was 9 years old, so I have difficult she believes those two dozen 'phrases to live by' she keeps attributing to him) and its sudden appearance and disappearance in the third quarter of the story.
I felt most turned off by the romance, which was highly unbelievable. Anya, I get. But Win felt unreal, more caricature than character, a plot device for Anya. I would have rather not been distracted by that, and focused solely on Anya navigating the tricky waters of her life.
In all, it was an entertaining, but ultimately disappointing read, promising more than it delivered and often taking the easy way out of what would be an interesting situation to explore.
Anya Balanchine is a girl living in uncertain times. She’s also the daughter of a slain mafiya boss. These factors play large parts in what formulates her nature and that character is one that proves increasingly absorbing as you read her tale.
As in most stories about mob gangs, what is important is family and Anya’s devotion to her immediate relations is deep and unswerving. She’s truly a girl of complex parts. Unusually mature for her age, yet she’s capable of being swept up in a Romeo-and-Juliet type of affair. But she machinates and connives for her family with the cool-headedness of a Machiavelli.
Tragedy inevitably strikes—just not necessarily where you think it will. The author pulls off surprises but nothing gratuitous or needlessly bloody (those expecting Sam-Peckinpah levels of violence will be disappointed). All the action of the novel arises out of the characters as laid out by Ms. Zevin; there isn’t a false moment anywhere. Ms. Zevin understands that people are multifaceted beings, with notions like “good” or “evil” being entirely irrelevant. She also builds her world—one set in an undefined future—with careful and neatly drawn outlines. Prohibitions, restrictions, scarcity, rationing and crime are part of the blocks that make up this sad picture and these aspects of society drive the many people living in it.
This is a telling read about a fictional world that seems disturbingly real. With Anyaschka Balanchine at its center, this book is one that you could read repeatedly—if only as a cautionary tale of living in difficult times.
I didn't realize this was a young adult book when I placed a hold on it. I loved the idea of a future without chocolate or caffeine, something different than the norm. As I read more and more of this series I fell in love with the characters and wanted to learn more. Am looking forward to the 2nd in the series. And yes, I am an adult (43 yrs old). 5 stars!
I did not expect to enjoy this book -- the premise seemed like an opening for every kind of mushy angsty teen romance that I hate -- but it was extremely well done. The story is very character driven, and clearly, creating intriguing character's is one of the author's strengths. I really cared about what would happen to Leo, Natty and Anya -- who is so tough and brave, but so sad at the same time. The romantic tension between Anya and Win is also well done, realistic, and not overstated or uncomfortable. All things considered, a great read for the lover of classic star-crossed romance, subtle and well-crafted.
This book kept me on my toes! I didn't know what to expect when I first picked it up, but I was happy I did! Anya was a character that you could easily relate to and watching her grow was a great aspect to the plot!
I really loved the concept of this book. I read Gabrielle Zevin's book, Elsewhere, and really enjoyed that too, which is why I decided to read this book. (And was it just me or did she allude to Elsewhere when Anya's grandmother said after she died she would end up "elsewhere"!?!?!) I can't wait to read some of her other books!
this was an awesome read. i personally think this book is underratted. i loved the read. the second book out now. is it going to be good tho. i find sometimes the second books in series are boring we shall see.
Honestly, I don't understand why this book is praised so highly. The way that the plot was brought out into the book was really weird and I didn't like it. For some reason Anya really irritated me. Some of her actions didn't make sense AT ALL.
Loved this book it was original and unique. I can't really see there being a seagull because everything was pretty much wrapped up. A lot of unexpected and clever plot twists; another great book from Gabrielle Zevin.
I can't, can't, CANNOT wait until I get my hands on the second book. Fantastic book.
I really enjoyed this book, and the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was because I didn't care for the way the plot unraveled. However, Zevin is a genius with anything she publishes!
This book was a pretty good book. It's not my favorite book but I enjoyed reading it.
Alcohol is legal. Drugs are legal. Water is the scarcest resource. Caffeine. . . ILLEGAL. Tainted chocolate, betrayed by family, and protector of her siblings, Anya is one tough Mafiya princess. Unfortunately she happens to be in love with the son of her worst enemy.
This book grabs you and won't let go. Somewhat similar to Holly Black's White Cat series, but even more absorbing and with a female heroine. One of the most absorbing and excellent books I've read in a while. Highly recommended. Great for age 12 up to 100.
I really liked it, except i thought the author could expand on some...parts....
I really loved this book a lot. I normally never reread books but i did with this one.Deffinately reccomend this book.
I read this from my school's library. It was good, and i enjoyed it up to the end (:
This book was absolutely fantastic! The plot was very exciting and I found it impossible to put the book down. Don't be fooled by the description about it being all about crime and action-packed, it does contain these things, but it also sets wonderful background story about a girl whose just trying to make things right. Here we read about an incredibly brave girl who does what she can in order to provide a normal life for her siblings after her parents passing and fix the relationship between her crime-ridden family.