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Thursday, December 13, 2012

[Review] Because It Is My Blood (Birthright, #2) by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: Because It Is My Blood
Series: Birthright, #2
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Pages: 350 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: September 18, 2012
I reviewed an ARC.

Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.

But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.

I only just liked All These Things I've Done, but I won an ARC of this one, so I gave it a read. I was hoping for more Leo after the ending events of the first book, but again everything is narrowly focused on Anya. Nothing around her gets much attention, which bothers me. I want to know more about the world and the other characters, not just Anya.

I'm still not sold on this so-called dystopian society. As I said in my review of the first book, the illegal chocolate lost its novelty and just became annoying. There's no real reason why it's illegal, except that it makes a unique setting and clearly pulls readers in. Anya must escape New York, and she does so by heading to a cocao farm in Mexico. The whole plot ends up being about chocolate, much to my annoyance.

I was definitely interested at first though, because I thought we'd get some actual world building as the US is compared to Mexico. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Instead we get a lesson in growing and harvesting cocao, and a lame explanation that chocolate was expensive and is therefore illegal. The author had some missed opportunities to really make this world feel solid. It would have been more interesting to get details of Anya's second and third stay in Liberty, which are again glossed over. At least then we'd get to learn something about the legal system.

"Anya you know I support you, but aren't there bigger problems in the world than chocolate."

Obviously not.

Even when Anya is back in the city, it's still chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! There is more action, mystery, mafia stuff happening but the focus was still on Anya running the chocolate business. Occasionally, there's a random tidbit that I'm sure was meant to be shocking, but those felt like they were simply stuck in there to be shocking, not to add to the plot.

Maybe it was just a case of mid-trilogy syndrome, but I liked Because It Is My Blood less than the first book. Since there's only one book left, I'll read it, but only because I am curious to see if Anya's idea works.

Favorite Quotes

I told him I was happy for him. I didn't mean it, but I was trying to pretend like I was a grownup. (Didn't grownups tell lies like that?) (pg 28 ARC)

Yes, readers, I was seasick. I see no need to trouble you with the details except to mention that, once, I threw up so hard I sent my mustache flying across the room. (pg 109 ARC)

"The world needs more love not less." (pg 168 ARC)

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