Because It Is My Blood (Birthright #2)Featured
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 have Jenn, from the YASisterhood to thank for this ARC because she was kind enough to grab it for me at this year's ALA.
A note about the cover changes - I know All These Things I've Done has a new cover and it coordinates with this one, but I actually prefer the original cover.
This was one read I was really looking forward to! I thought the concept of coffee and chocolate being illegal was so interesting and entertaining in the first book and I fell in love with Anya and Win. This second installment in the Birthright series is good but I didn't enjoy it as much as the first book. There were times I experienced extreme frustration with these characters and other times they broke my heart. *cries*
Because It Is My Blood picks up with Anya's release from Liberty and her desire to move on with her life but not everyone around her is willing to let her do that. Her sister Natty doesn't want to see her, Scarlet, her BFF is now dating her archenemy, Win's father still seems hell-bent on making Anya's life miserable and then there's Win whose gone off and gotten himself another girlfriend. *sighs* Boys!
However, not everything is as it seems and try as she might to find a new normal, Anya ends up caught in the middle of a political scandal that sends her right back to jail. (No passing "Go" and no collecting $200 - poor girl) But before she has a chance to get settled, her life is threatened, a chance to escape arises and an unexpected visitor shows up with the hopes of setting the record straight.
Anya manages to get away and while she's gone not only learns a lot about the "family business" but a lot about herself too. She knows what's important and what she's willing to fight for and who. When yet another life is threatened because of her, she'll be forced to return home and try to make sense of what's left of her life, again. When Anya returns to NYC, she sees that the game may still be the same but the faces are all new. Her family is all she has to depend on but when she experiences betrayal after betrayal Anya begins to wonder if the only person she can really trust is herself.
The pacing felt slower in this book than the first one and it seemed like each time Anya had a chance at happiness, it was ripped away. I found myself asking, "How many times does the girl need to be locked up?" Granted, her life in general is pretty much a prison, but still. I did like that she seems to be able to share more of her feelings instead of keeping them bottled up inside. She's doing the best she can with what she's been dealt but I really hope book 3 brings Anya some semblance of peace.
Win, whose character I adore, confused me somewhat in this book. He's always been torn between his feelings for Anya and his loyalty to his father but I've also felt it wouldn't hurt him to grow a backbone where his father is concerned. He does accomplish this but seems to direct it at the wrong person. I've enjoyed that his character has loved Anya through so much which is why I didn't understand some of the decisions he makes. *shakes him*
*Throughout the book, Zevin intersperses the titles of her other works, All These Things I've Done, Elsewhere and part of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac which I thought was rather creative.
*There was a point where I thought Win and Natty were going to get together and I guess they still could in book 3 but honestly, if that happens, I will be upset. (like, really upset.)
There's more to life than chocolate.
I only just liked All These Things I’ve Done, but I won an ARC of Because It Is My Blood, 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.”
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.