What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

I wasn't sure I was going to read this one. I didn't review book 1, All These Things I've Done here on FCB, but I did give it three stars on Goodreads. I just didn't get into it, and I remember thinking it felt too jumpy. But I love the look of the new covers for both ATTID and this second book, I thought that I might give them another shot.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: 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.

What I Liked: 1) I finally started to understand Anya. I think that's what was missing from All These Things I've Done, that I simply didn't understand why she was the way she was. She's closed off and very wary of everything. But, since the Balanchine Family is like, a mob family, I suppose she has every right to feel very wary of everyone. I think this finally sunk in this time, because it hadn't really occurred to me in the first book. 2) Mexico. This was my favorite part of the book. Anya was able to get out of the city and out on to a cacao plantation. This whole part of the book was so interesting, because of the information Anya gets about chocolate, how it's grown, and what it's for. She's really started to hate chocolate because of all the trouble it's caused her and her family and you see her gain a new and different kind of appreciation for it as she spends time with Theo and his family on their chocolate plantation. In addition to what it did for Anya, I think it changed the pace of the story. I've talked before about colors that go with certain books. Well, Anya's life seems to be all gray and black, and white and red. Those are the colors that I envision for everything as I read. But suddenly she arrives in Mexico, and things get brighter, or warmer. The colder parts of the story melt away. This was what really helped me get into it more. 3) Bold choices. I think when you read enough books, you start to get a feel for the patterns that books of certain genres take. I'm not saying that all books are the same, just that there are directions that books take, and often times that formula, the one that makes for a good book, is the same for one as it is for the other. But I noticed a lot of deviation from natural patterns with Because It Is My Blood. When it would feel natural for the story to go one way, author Gabrielle Zevin chose to yank you in the opposite direction. That is what made this book fun and unpredictable, that you really couldn't ever guess where she was going to take you next. I appreciated these bold choices. 4) Theo. I got really attached to this guy. He was goofy and outspoken, and was just the kind of guy you can't help but like.

What I Didn't Like: I still am having trouble connecting with some of the characters. Anya's family and friends aren't being developed as well as she is, or with the same pace that she is, and that is why I am struggling so with these characters.

Overall Thoughts: This was a nice continuation of a series that got off to a rocky start for me. Bringing some warmth into what seemed to be a dark and cold world was an excellent decision from Miz Zevin. I also love her ability to shock me with her literary choices, and the up and down in the pacing. I've become a big fan of Theo, and hope to find out more about this sweetheart in the next book. There are still some plot and character development issues, but they are getting better! For fans of All These Things I've Done, this one will not disappoint, and for those of you who haven't started the series yet - a world where chocolate is banned? What's stopping you?

My Rating: 3.5 shots


  1. I haven't read the first book, but I have been wanting to. Sorry you had a hard time connecting with the characters, but overall it seems like this was a pretty good second book.

  2. Gah! I can't wait for the next one. Something about Birthright trilogy is addicting. Here's mine if you don't mind: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2013/02/because-it-is-my-blood-by-gabrielle.html

    Thanks and have a nice day! :)


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