In 2083, chocolate and caffeine are illegal and Anya’s family has grown rich and powerful due to their criminal chocolate dealings. Orphaned due to mob violence, Anya has her hands full taking care of her siblings and bedridden grandmother. But things get even more complicated when poisoned chocolate enters the supply chain and Anya begins a forbidden relationship with the new District Attorney’s son Win.
I liked Anya immediately. She feels very responsible for her family, and has promised God that she’ll be a good girl if nothing bad happens to them. Even though is narrative is first person, the way the story is told, it’s almost like a much older Anya is reminiscing about her misspent youth to her own grandchildren in a distant future. (Here and there she weaves in some meta-fiction techniques like mentioning when she is foreshadowing, etc.)
I should say that it’s not necessarily dystopian to live in a society where chocolate is outlawed, but Zevin does a really great job of showing us a crumbling future New York City which is on the brink of total collapse. Museums are long gone, replaced by underground nightclubs. People pay high fees for every liter of water they run out of their taps. And juvenile detention is rife with torture and corruption.
Many early reviews have stated that this installment of the trilogy seems to be all set-up and no action – and I assume they mean in regards to Anya’s crime family and the fact that she’s not yet at the helm of it. I was quite satisfied by the plot that pitted Anya against both Win’s father (who makes a deal with her regarding dating his son) and enemies within her own family who may or may not be trying to bring the whole chocolate empire down so that foreign concerns can get more market share.
That said, how well you like it may depend on how enchanted you are with Anya’s voice. And oh how I was …
Zombie chickens say: Don’t miss this one, but be careful what you eat.
ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE will be published in just one month on September 6, 2011. It’s the first book of the Birthright Trilogy. Find out more about it, read a 30 page excerpt and see a behind the scenes video at the publisher's website. Add it to your GoodReads wishlist.
Song for the Ultimate Dystopian Playlist: Chocolate by Snow Patrol. Sample lyric: “What have I done? It's too late for that. What have I become? Truth is nothing yet. A simple mistake starts the hardest time. I promise I'll do anything you ask...this time.”
Macmillan is sponsoring a giveaway of a prize pack that includes an ARC of the book as well as a package of chocolate-covered espresso beans. For a chance to win, fill out this form by August 13th at 11:59 pm CST. US and Canada only.