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Because It Is My Blood

Because It Is My Blood - Gabrielle Zevin The mafia, chocolate, the near future, the pseudo-end of life as we know it. All these things were what drew me to ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE, book one in the Birthright Trilogy by Gabrielle Zevin. In the end, ATTID ended up being one of my top twenty books of 2011 for its well-crafted blend of family drama, romance, action, and chocolate. By the time BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD rolled around, I admit, I had forgotten some of the intricacies of book one (some important details from book one are not rehashed in book two), but I dove into BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD and was not disappointed.This series is not for the YA reader who demands non-stop balls to the wall action in their sci-fi/sorta-dystopian stories. There is action, yes, but it is more subdued. A lot of the dramatic elements in this story are subdued and left in the familial interactions. In Anya Balanchine’s world, she is a murderer, but she rarely lifts a weapon against another. In BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD, she is released from Liberty and tries to form a new life before she fails (thanks to betrayal) and ends up in Mexico learning to farm cacao with a new love interest, the quirky and patient Theo.To be honest, I think that the first fifty pages could have been cut. Starting the book with Anya’s escape from Liberty (on her latest trip) and flee to Mexico would have been a stronger jumping off point, leaving us more time with Theo and his remarkable family. I really enjoy Anya besides her strange asides to the reader. She is strong, crafty, passionate about her life and her family, and she doesn’t need a man around. In the YA world, this is especially awesome for me. But the romance was still there in this tale. We have Win, who has moved on with a new girl, and we have Theo, who may or may not have tried to woo Anya. He says he doesn’t like her repeatedly, but it came off as one-sided love. I’m not sure if this was Zevin’s intention, but who cares, I personally preferred Theo over Win in this one.The main plot point in this episode of the trilogy was a murder mystery. Someone has ordered a hit on the Balanchine family (Anya, Natty, and Leo) – and succeeds in assassinating one of the siblings, although the reader – and Anya – are never afforded any evidence besides a box of ashes. On one hand, I loved that Zevin was willing to go there and actually kill off a family member, but at the same time, the mystery element wasn’t there. But surprise! I didn’t guess the killer/mastermind until the reveal. I was quite frankly surprised.BIIMB was well paced and well-plotted. Except for the first fifty pages or so, the book was tightly wound and unfurled with a quick pace. I read the last 200 pages in one sitting, hooked and desperate to know more. And now that book two is over, I am salivating for book three, especially with Anya’s new business venture at the ends that leads to a rather distinct (but surprisingly not very eventful) loss in the last chapter. I must know more, and I hope Theo is there.VERDICT: Although not very action-packed and belayed with a love interest I am not quite a fan of (he’s whiney), BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD is a worthy successor to ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE. Bring on book three!(Also, the last half of this book really came off as the story about chocolate being banned being an allegory for marijuana. Especially with the medical cacao dispensary. It ended up being rather amusing.)