When I first saw this book cover at BEA I thought it looked a little emo. Lets examine the components: a black, bleeding heart; an all lowercase title; and the tagline “the ties that forever bind us.” If that doesn’t make you feel like writing angsty poetry in your moleskin and listening to Dashboard Confessional than nothing will.
I’m glad I didn’t let the cover turn me off, because all the things i’ve done by Gabrielle Zevin was quite satisfying.
Sixteen and living in the derelict remains of Manhattan, Anya does her best to fly under the radar. But that can be hard to do when you’re a member of a notorious chocolatier crime family. With her mother and father dead, and her grandma (who is so old she was born in the ‘90s) hooked up to life support, Anya’s in charge of keeping her family cared for. The responsibility becomes much more difficult when she accidentally poisons her ex-boyfriend with some illegal chocolate, falls in love with the son of a high profile politician (who is less than thrilled about their relationship), and her mafia boss uncle starts recruiting her mentally handicapped brother.
I guess I would be a little emo too. Even though, I’m pretty sure emo doesn’t exist anymore, and they all grew up to be hipsters (sidebar: Anya’s best friend Scarlet is definitely a hipster, with her vintage slip dresses and drama club). And while I’m not sold on the likelihood of chocolate and caffeine prohibited in the future (while drugs and alcohol are, you know, fine), I’m not really looking for realism while I’m reading dystopian YA. The story is told in first person, and Anya is kind of a badass. She is also a very responsible sixteen-year-old. I learned a lot. She does tend to ‘talk’ to the reader a little much for my taste, I just think that’s a little cutesy, but the plot moves quickly, and their were some nice surprises.