Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Source: Physical arc from MacKids
Blurb: 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.
Review: Don’t let the three star rating fool you, I actually really enjoyed this book, it’s just that there were many flaws. You CAN have both.
We’re back again with Anya Balanchine, and we’re pretty much continuing where we left off. In the opening of this book, she’s serving out her sentence at Liberty and it’s the night before her release. She goes home and that’s pretty much where our story begins again. The thing with these books are, they are not very high energy. And for a mafia novel, you would expect differently. I just always expect more action and you never get it. It’s more of a character study and sometimes it seems like not that much is happening. It’s not that that is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not what you expect from a book about organized crime.
I’ve always liked Anya Balanchine. I know I might be in the minority by saying that, and you might be surprised by ME saying that because of my feelings about religion, but I’ve never really been offended or bothered by Anya’s religious views. In this book, Anya questions her beliefs quite a bit anyway. She says a few things that MIGHT offend someone that is highly religious. She’s just finding it hard to believe in God right now what with everything going on in her life and the people around her getting hurt and dying. I can’t say I blame her. Who wouldn’t? But she is a fighter and a strong girl like always. Yes, she’s a bit of a complainer, but thankfully I did find less of that in this book than in the first book.
I really enjoyed Anya’s inner conflict over morality, mortality, and her beliefs. She really grows and develops as a character, and so do many of the others. Win and Anya continue their forbidden romance and there is a lot of back and forth and push and pull, and depending on whether or not you like them as a couple, this may annoy you. We also are lucky enough to be introduced to some new characters, both which I really liked. But I don’t want to spoil that part of it for you. You should discover them for yourselves.
Anya gets to do a little traveling in this book, and although I really enjoyed learning about cacao farming, this part of the book felt a little out of place, disjointed, and not really connected to the other parts of the story. It was very strange. I really did like these parts though, I just felt at times like I was reading a completely different book.
As for the technical stuff, I really DO like Gabrielle Zevin’s writing, but I hate how she makes Anya talk directly to the audience. I pretty much cannot stand any occurrence of that in ANY writing, but it truly grated on me here. I do, however, love the tone of her writing, and though the style is a little detached, I always liked the way Anya told the story. Perhaps it’s because I really am a fan of Anya’s voice and the way she deals with her emotions and the people around her.
Bottom line: This one didn’t have nearly as much action as the first book (and that book didn’t have much action either), but we are introduced to new characters, our existing characters experience some wonderful growth, and this story is a nice lead-in to the next book. Though parts of it felt like filler and just a bridge to book three, I did still enjoy it. Just not as much as the first book, All These Things I’ve Done. I’d recommend this one if you are already entrenched in this series. If you aren’t, definitely read the first book before deciding. DUH.