By Gabrielle Zevin. #2 in Birthright Trilogy. Grade: B+
“Because It’s My Blood” is the second book in the Birthright Trilogy. It continues on from the first book “All These Things I’ve Done”. The books are set in 2083 in a time where chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City life is rife with crime and poverty.
“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.”
The first book centers around a sixteen-year old girl called Anya, the daughter of a crooked chocolate manufacturer who gets into trouble when her ex-boyfriend is poisoned by the chocolate her family makes.
After being released from Liberty, Anya tries to start a new life for herself but is betrayed and ends up in Mexico, learning to farm cacao with a boy called Theo. The book started off very slowly for me and I think a few things could have been cut, but I kept reading because I had enjoyed the first book. We start to meet new characters like Theo and his family, and see some of the old characters develop and grow (like Win who has moved on with another girl). We see Anya’s slow progress as well; she makes plenty of mistakes but is able to understand how foolish she was and learn from that.
In this book, old enemies become friends and some friends become enemies. There are also some interesting plot changes (read a half brother and some deaths) that affect Anya and the other characters. There is also a complex murder mystery going on where someone has been ordered a hit on the Balanchine family and succeeds in assassinating one of the siblings (however the readers and Anya don’t know who, Anya is only left with a box of ashes as evidence).
Although this is a dystopian novel and it seems a bit absurd at times (like having a chocolate mafia), much of the book seems real and humane. I liked the way Miss Zevin was able to repair the relationships that had fallen apart for Anya and her friends in a very believable way. It was quite refreshing.
I liked how post-breakup, Anya has not become some suicide girl like most YA novels (Twilight! Twilight!) but is able to understand that reason is more important than passion. Anya didn’t let their relationship define her. This book is not for those YA readers who prefer straight up action (read Hunger Games fans); there is action, yes, but it is more subdued.
The cover is quite dark but pretty, with dark shades of red and a girl with short, edgy dark hair in the middle. Although I don’t normally like book covers with people on them I thought that this one looked good.
Overall I would give this book a B- as it was a pretty good read but not one of my favourites.