Friday, November 18, 2011
"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."
No big brother. No evil government to overthrow. No insta-love. In short, none of the elements that so many dystopias out right now are riddled with and that I was running out of energy for. This book was definitely was I was looking for.
Zevin's 2083 NYC felt more like the past than the future, which I thought was a really cool twist. With so many things becoming illegal, and rations and taxes being placed on ridiculous amounts of things--like water!--it didn't have the high tech feel that so many in-the-not-too-distant-future books have. Plus, there was a healthy dose of things that hadn't changed--kids still going to school, cafeteria food still being disgusting, teachers still not understanding, and the politics of high school--kept this imagined future firmly rooted in reality and made it easy to imagine and relate to. The things that Zevin changes are subtle, like chocolate being illegal, which makes this dysoptian version of New York seem eerily plausible. Even though New York is so iconic and easily recognizable, Zevin didn't skimp on the world-building, which makes this book shine.
Now, enter the Mafia. I have a confession to make: I think that mafia is really cool. Not in a sleeping-with-the-fishes is cool way, but the whole concept of a created family and the internal politics that go along with being crime bosses is something that has fascinated me for a long time, so I was super pleased that it was a big part of this book. The mafia aspect also helped give this futuristic book a neat old-world edge to it, that felt very original and engrossing to read.
Of course, my favorite part of this book was our headstrong MC, Anya Balanchine. Even though she's the middle child, she's really the person in charge--her and her older brother & younger sister live with their grandmother, who's bed-bound and only half-there most of the time. Because of some head trauma he endured as a child, her older brother isn't fit to be in charge of them. So it falls to Anya. Anya handles this with a great combination of nails and grace--which is how she handles pretty much everything in her life--and that's why I loved her. Anya was like a combination of Katsa from Kristin Cashore's GRACELING and Anna from Stephanie Perkin's ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS--half all fire, ready to beat down whoever looks at her (or her family) funny, and half the girl-next-door you secretly want to be.
This book is out now, so hop on down to your local bookstore or favorite website and order it now! And then order one for your friends. Holiday giving season is just around the corner, after all!
Thanks to Smitten with Books Arc Tours for my review copy of this book!