I was super stoked when I was able to borrow this audio book from the library as it has been on my shelf for a while. The premise behind the story sounded like it was right up my alley: dystopian future where items we have today are either illegal or contraband in this not so distant future. It was sure to be packed with action and a wild ride! Oh how so far from the truth that is.
This is the story of Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most famous and famously dead crime boss, but she refuses to let all of that define her. She never gets into trouble, she follows the rules, and always takes care of her family. That is also her downfall as she has a soft heart when it comes to helping people. Everything changes when Anya’s ex is poisoned by the chocolate her family produces. Anya suddenly finds herself in the cop’s spotlight and behind bars for something she had nothing to do with, other than share the family name. Along the way, Anya becomes smitten with the new DA’s son, Win.Will Anya be able to save herself from falling for Win, or will she have to give that up to save herself from being wrongfully prosecuted?
Let me just stop you right there. You’re already confused, aren’t you? Join the club! There is a severe lack of world building in this story and that is one of the biggest downfalls. WHY did the economy collapse? WHY is chocolate contraband and caffeine considered illegal? HOW did things get to be where they are? None of this is explained to the reader. The book promises a Godfather-like story but please know that is now what you will get. Instead, you will get this: Chocolate, caffeine, and a terrible love story. You will also get a lot of Anya quoting her father, “My father always said…” or “My father always told me…”. For Pete’s sake… we get it already. Your father was this notorious crime boss and gained a lot of respect. You loved your father but you need to think for yourself. Where was the crime?! Where was the action?!
Needless to say, Anya was not the best protagonist I have ever read. She was so insecure, wishy-washy, and meek that it was almost too much. Her inner monologue was so rough and tough, but when push came to shove, she bowed down and folded like a house of cards. She couldn’t even stand up to her loser of an ex-boyfriend when he came to her apartment jonesing for a chocolate bar (which is still the stupidest thing to be addicted to in a story). I felt zero connection to any character in this book. They were incredibly immature and childish. I did not believe there was an instant connection between Anya and Win, it felt odd and forced.
One thing that stood out to me and really irritated me was the constant slut-shamming throughout the entire story. There is one scene towards early part of the book when Anya is out at a club with her friends and her brother shows up. She sees her brother dancing with some girls and they are immediately referred to as sluts.They are sluts because of how they suggestively danced and are always referred to afterwards as “the slutty girls” or “one of the sluts”. Normally I don’t make it a point to call stuff like this out but it really, really bothered me. This did not feel appropriate for a YA book and younger readers.
I had such high hopes for this book but it did not even come close to delivering. There was an intense lack of world building, lack of character development, and the horrid slut shamming. I can not recommend this to anyone. Maybe I read too much into this story but it just was not for me.