Approximately 50 years in the future, New York is a ruined city where goods are rationed and chocolate is illegal. Anya Balachine, orphaned teen daughter of a chocolate-producing crime boss, struggles to keep her brother and sister safe and avoid the dangers of her extended crime family, while simultaneously navigating normal teenage problems: school, friends, and boys. Narrator Ilyana Kadushin perfectly captures Anya's character, providing the heroine with a voice that sounds young and vulnerable, but strong-willed. With the exception of some members of the crime family--who sound vaguely similar--Kadushin creates a range of unique voices and accents for the cast of characters. The excitement and drama of the book's early chapters translate well to audio and will keep listeners on the edge of their seats. And while the middle portion of the book lags, Kadushin's rendition of Anya remains strong and memorable throughout, easily keeping listeners engaged in her story. A Farrar, Straus and Giroux hardcover. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
Gr 8 Up--Despite being the daughter of New York's most notorious crime boss, Anya Balanchine's life is fairly normal. That is, as normal as possible in a futuristic world where chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is scarce, and minors are allowed to consume alcohol like soda pop. Anya does her best to avoid Family dealings. When a poisoned supply of Balanchine's black market chocolate is leaked to the public and Anya's loser ex-boyfriend is the first to fall ill, she takes the rap. Anya's innocent and just wants to clear her name and shield her younger sister, ailing grandmother, and mentally disabled brother from Family drama. Not helping matters is Anya's growing attraction to Win, a forbidden boy whose father is on the opposite side of the law. As Anya investigates the poisoning, she begins to suspect an inside job. It turns out that she's right, and Anya must now decide whether to accept her rightful place within the Balanchine family. This is the first title (Farrar, Straus, 2011) in Gabrielle Zevin's projected "Birthright" trilogy. Narrator Ilyana Kadushin does an outstanding job voicing the various characters, adding credibility to the production. Although the story's dystopian elements seem lightweight--humorous even--compared to the apocalyptic themes of other titles in the genre, the intriguing mystery and exceptional characterization will keep listeners thoroughly invested.--Alissa LeMerise, Oxford Public Library, MI[Page 62]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.