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From the Birthright series, volume 1

by Gabrielle Zevin

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-374-30210-8
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Some four years after Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (2007), Zevin returns to teen fiction with a story about the daughter of a Russian-American crime boss making her way in a grimly familiar 2083.

This is no post-apocalyptic nightmare land. The only real clues readers have to a changed America are references to shortages of natural resources and increased regulation of just about everything. Most significantly for Anya Balanchine, chocolate is a controlled substance in this America, and her family is one of the five great chocolate families worldwide. Her parents both dead and her older brother brain-damaged as a result of their shadowy activities, Anya is de facto head of her own family, though not the Family. When she falls for Win Delacroix, the son of the new assistant DA, she knows the match is problematic. And when her ex-boyfriend is nearly fatally poisoned by a bar of illicit Balanchine Chocolate and she's briefly taken into custody, things become even more complicated. Zevin excels at inviting readers into Anya's mafiya paranoia—so much so that readers will be expecting double crosses that never happen, at least in this series opener. Anya is a likable character, though her retrospective and at times self-conscious account may distance readers.

Still, the love story’s to die for, and the tangled web of relationships will keep readers intrigued to the last page. (Thriller. 14 & up)