Birthright series by Gabrielle Zevin (YA)


Unusually, and cardinal sin-ally, I started on book 2 of this trilogy, simply because it was given to me by a friend, but after some reading, was easy enough to figure out the bones of the story.

Anya Balanchine is the daughter of a chocolate dealer.   Yes, dealer, because the series is set in the late 21st century, when chocolate and caffeine are illegal, at least in the city of New York, the main setting, and the US in general.

It took a while for me to get on with the concept of the trilogy.   Undoubtedly tainted by the onslaught of dystopian young adult fiction, I was expecting a different, tighter, zero to hero or redemption story.   After reading the second book, Because It Is My Blood, and starting the third, it struck me that the main comparisons to be drawn between this trilogy are with another famous trilogy, but worlds away from Hunger Games or Divergent, the obvious touchstones in modern dystopian YA.   This story is more like The Godfather, as the trade of chocolate mingled with the rise of the central character in a business-like setting explores similar territory.   There are a few slight nods to The Godfather also.

The dystopian setting, consequently, becomes inconsequential really, and only serves as a necessary backdrop rather than an essential component.   Anya deals with crooks, lawyers, district attorneys, school principals and cacao growers rather than one or two super-villains.   Because of this, the Birthright trilogy takes on a slow arc, encompassing several years and the reader finds themselves drawn into the life of Anya, from her early beginnings in her business to her love life.

A really interesting read, worth it even for reading something different for anyone who’s had enough for now of the flashier end of dystopian YA.


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