Imagine a world where chocolate is considered to be a contraband item and caffeine is illegal yet alcohol is freely consumed by nearly everyone. It’s a world where water is so scarce, that it is being rationed out to the general public and you need ration cards for a simple candle. It’s a world where minors are barred from using Facebook, Twitter and all other social networks without a license to publish.
It is a world where teenagers have no clue what OMG actually means and where minors under 18 aren’t allowed to have their own phones, and the phones they do have, cameras aren’t included in them. It’s a world where the Statue of Liberty is basically a prison camp for minors who have broken the law in one way or the other.
All These Things I've Done, the first book in the Birthright series, takes place in the year 2083 where sixteen year old Anyaschka (Anya/Annie) Balanchine, the daughter of a dead mob boss, lives in New York City with her older brother Leonyd, and younger sister Natalya.
To me, this was like an episode of the Mob Wives and not a dystopian fantasy novel. Our main character, Anya, is a Russian-American teenager who is forced into dealing with life’s lesson of survival and betrayal before she is even out of high school while finding love with someone that would be otherwise untouchable. Anya, in reality, is the head of her family even though she is the middle child. It's forced her into being a little more realistic about her situation and the world she lives in.
The one thing I am confused about is how this world turned out to be so awful. If I’m reading between the lines, it appears that some sort of infectious outbreak took place but it never is fully explained which absolutely boggles my mind and thus leaves me with a feeling of letdown and betrayal.
The male romance interest, Goodwin (Win) Delacroix, is the boy across the tracks on the good side of town. His father is an important person in the District Attorney’s office who basically goes out of his way to ensure that Win doesn’t end up with Anya who he considers to be nothing more than mob pond scum not worthy of mention or notice.
As a Catholic, there are times I really want to scream out loud that not all of us were brought up the same way and that our views on the world aren’t based on what the Vatican, the Church leadership, or even some fooked up Politician tells us.
In this story, Anya reserves herself from sex and goes to penance because of her promise to her father that she wouldn’t do the nasty until she was married. In all fairness, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this idea and I supported her decision until she nearly lost her marbles and did it anyway which seemed at the time to be out of spite rather than actual love for Win.
I'm most likely going to continue on with the next book in the series called "Because It Is In My Blood" which releases September 18th 2012 because I want to see how Zevin resolves several issues with Anya, her sister, and her brother who went into hiding at the end of the book.