Book Review: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Knopf
Publication date: July 5, 2022
Print length: 416 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In this exhilarating novel by the best-selling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry two friends–often in love, but never lovers–come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality.

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is the kind of immersive, powerful read that only comes along once in a great while. I found it moving and profound, and even several days after finishing the book, I’m still caught up in thoughts about its themes and images.

Pretty surprising for a book ostensibly about the world of video games, right?

Sam and Sadie first meet as young teens; Sadie stumbles across Sam in a pediatric hospital where he’s a patient and her sister is undergoing cancer treatment. Sadie doesn’t know anything about Sam other than that he’s dealing with a serious injury to his foot — but she doesn’t need to know much more. He’s playing Mario Kart, and she joins in… and instantly, they find a shared language and joy, as well as an escape from their real lives, by gaming together.

From there, they spend 609 hours together (if you read the book, you’ll find out why this matters), but a secret drives them apart, until they meet once again as college students on a cold day in Boston. Their love of gaming hasn’t changed, and they immediately rekindle their mind-meld connection and begin collaborating on a game. Along with Sam’s roommate Marx, a protective loving boy who decides it’s his mission to look after Sam, they embark on a path that will lead them to huge success and fame.

The book follows Sam and Sadie’s rise to gaming stardom while tracing the impact on their friendship. Their connection goes beyond business partnership or being friends — it’s deep and powerful, and yes, it’s love, but it’s not a romantic connection. They are so deeply entwined that any perceived betrayal or slight is felt all the way to the bone. Sam and Sadie are inextricably connected, but they go through periods of intense conflict and estrangement as well.

Over the course of the years covered by Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, we learn about their backstories, their families, their traumas, and of course, their brilliance. There’s so much to absorb here about culture, wellness and disability, reality and virtual worlds, intelligence and academia, and more. Sadie, Sam, and Marx are unforgettable characters, beautifully described and developed. We know these people and what makes them tick; we understand their joys and their pain, and when bad things happen, it hurts deeply.

The writing is beautiful, often funny, often pensive, filled with oddball characters in a world that many of us (anyone not involved in gaming and coding) may find alien. We’re given entrance into this world through these characters’ experiences, and it’s fascinating.

Maybe it was the willingness to play that hinted at a tender, eternally newborn part in all humans. Maybe it was the willingness to play that kept one from despair.

One element I loved is how the characters’ worldview is coded to the world of games, so that how they view real life is often described in gaming language (and vice versa). For example, a character involved with someone who’s married reflects:

A wife had been mentioned, as had a son. They didn’t have names, and so they weren’t characters to her, but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist.

The virtual vs real world comparisons continue throughout the book, and I found these fascinating:

How do you preserve the impossible to preserve? Or, in other words, how do you stop time and death? […] What, after all, is a video game’s subtextual preoccupation if not the erasure of mortality?

“I’m going to play until the end of this life.”

“That’s a good philosophy.”

He was tired of having to move so carefully, of having to be so careful. He wanted to be able to skip, for God’s sake. He wanted to be Ichigo. He wanted to surf, and ski, and parasail, and fly, and scale mountains and buildings. He wanted to die a million deaths like Ichigo, and no matter what damage was inflicted on his body during the day, he’d wake up tomorrow, new and whole. He wanted Ichigo’s life, a lifetime of endless, immaculate tomorrows, free of mistakes and evidence of having lived.

… [H]e could remember thinking that the best thing about games is that they could be fairer than life.

“I thought you were worried I was going to die,” Sam said.

“No. You’ll never die. And if you ever died, I’d just start the game again,” Sadie said.

As it turned out, in the late fall of 2001, Mapleworld [an online virtual world/game] was exactly what people craved. A virtual world that was better governed, kinder, and more understandable than their own

You are a gaming person, which is to say you are the kind of person who believes that “game over” is a construction. The game is only over if you stop playing. There is always one more life.

“What is a game?” Marx said. “It’s tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It’s the possibility of infinite rebirth, infinite redemption. The idea that if you keep playing, you could win. No loss is permanent, because nothing is permanent, ever.”

On a more granular level, I was delighted by how many words in this book were new to me! Sometimes, it can be annoying to have to check definitions, but somehow here, I found it eye-opening and challenging, especially in the context of this particular book’s setting and characters. The unfamiliar words tended to be gaming/coding terms that the characters use to express themselves in daily life — it made me feel like I’d entered into their world and been handed yet another insight into how their minds work. (For examples of new-to-me words and their definitions, see below**).

To make a game is to imagine the person playing it.

I wouldn’t have thought I’d love a book that’s ostensibly about video games, or that I’d consider it one of the best books of the year. In fact, I had to give myself a little push to pick up Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and get started. Thankfully, I’ve read and loved Gabrielle Zevin’s books before this one and trusted that she’d write something I’d want to read!

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is moving and gorgeous, truly a unique reading experience. The author’s creativity and sensitivity shines through on every page. I’ll be thinking about this book for a long time to come.

**A quick, incomplete guide to words I found fascinating in T&T&T:

  • ligneous: made, consisting of, or resembling wood; woody
  • collogue: talk confidentially or conspiratorially
  • mesomorphic: having a compact and muscular body build
  • kenophobia: an intense fear of empty spaces or voids
  • viridescent: greenish or becoming green
  • ludic: showing spontaneous and undirected playfulness
  • deictic: of, relating to, or denoting a word or expression whose meaning is dependent on the context in which it is used, e.g. here, you, me, that one there, next Tuesday
  • jejune: naïve, simplistic, and superficial
  • anfractuous: sinuous or circuitous
  • echt: authentic and typical

Book Review: Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

From the bestselling author of the beloved The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry comes another perfect fable for our times–a story about women, choices, and recovering from past mistakes.

Young Jane Young‘s heroine is Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida who makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss‑‑who is beloved, admired, successful, and very married‑‑and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the Congressman doesn’t take the fall, but Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins. She becomes a late‑night talk show punchline; she is slut‑shamed, labeled as fat and ugly, and considered a blight on politics in general.

How does one go on after this? In Aviva’s case, she sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. She tries to start over as a wedding planner, to be smarter about her life, and to raise her daughter to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, she decides to run for public office herself, that long‑ago mistake trails her via the Internet like a scarlet A. For in our age, Google guarantees that the past is never, ever, truly past, that everything you’ve done will live on for everyone to know about for all eternity. And it’s only a matter of time until Aviva/Jane’s daughter, Ruby, finds out who her mother was, and is, and must decide whether she can still respect her.

Gabrielle Zevin is an amazing writer, and in Young Jane Young, she captures the voices of the women narrators so well that it’s like hearing these very different people speak directly to us.

In turns narrated by Rachel (Aviva’s mother), Jane, her daughter Ruby, Embeth (the Congressman’s wife), and Aviva, we get a series of viewpoints and reactions to Aviva’s youthful mistake and how its consequences have persisted and affected all of their lives over the years.

Jane is grown-up Aviva, and she looks back on her 20s as if they were lived by a different person. She’s reinvented herself and left her past behind, but of course, nothing ever truly goes away. And to make a fresh start, she’s also left behind her mother, once her best friend, whom she equates with her shame and the insecurities of her past. Meanwhile, Ruby has no idea who her mother once was, and when the truth inevitably comes out, has to deal with the fallout in her own unique style.

The characters are each endearing in their own way. Rachel is a very Florida Jewish mother, who spends her mid-sixties with her best pal Roz, going to events at the local JCC and trying her hand at Internet dating. Jane is a savvy businesswoman whose success as a wedding planner stems in large part from her ability to empathize with the doubts and insecurities of her brides and to be there for them when they need her. Embeth is an interesting woman, who shows that there’s much more than meets the eye to the political wife who stands by her man. Ruby is a precocious, super smart girl who can’t fit in with her peers, but socializes flawlessly with the women of her mother’s world. And Aviva — young Jane Young — we get to know last of all, as we finally learn her take on the events that led to the affair with the Congressman, the ill-advised choices she made along the way, and the way scandal clings forever, courtesy of the Internet:

The discovery of your shame is one click away. Everyone’s is, not that that makes it any better. In high school, you read The Scarlet Letter, and it occurs to you that this is what the Internet is like. There’s that scene at the beginning where Hester Prynne is forced to stand in the town square for the afternoon. Maybe three or four hours. Whatever the time, it’s unbearable to her.

You will be standing in that square forever.

You will wear that “A” until you’re dead.

You consider your options.

You have no options.

Aviva compares her life to the Choose Your Own Adventure books that she enjoyed during childhood:

The way these books work is you get to the end of a section, and you make a choice, and then you turn to the corresponding page for that choice. You think how much these books are like life.

Except in Choose Your Own Adventure, you can move backward, and you can choose something else if you don’t like how the story turned out, or if you just want to know the other possible outcomes. You would like to do that, but you can’t. Life moves relentlessly forward. You turn to the next page, or you stop reading. If you stop reading, the story is over.

Ultimately, as Aviva narrates her choices and their outcomes, we see how she comes to the point where her only real option is reinvention — starting over as a new person, in a new place, and leaving her former story behind altogether.

Young Jane Young is witty, sad, entertaining, and unfortunately very real in what it has to say about women’s lives and women’s choices. Aviva made mistakes, to be certain — but she didn’t make them alone, and long past the point where she should be done paying, she still is stuck with the labels and judgments that she bears. Public opinion, sad to stay, still excuses the wealthy, well-positioned male in ways that it won’t for the young, foolish female. The disparity in the outcomes for Aviva and the Congressman are startling and upsetting, yet match quite well with what we all see in real-life public scandals and the apportionment of public shame.

I suppose, too, that Young Jane Young could serve as a sort of cautionary tale for people (especially women) on the cusp of their adult lives who don’t yet realize the permanence of certain choices and mistakes. But the book is much more than that. It shines a light on women’s relationships — the bonds of friendship, family, and compassion — and shows how vital these connections are in order to lead healthy lives. It shows the damage done, even without meaning to, by the constant judging that women endure over things — body size, clothing choices, etc — that really shouldn’t matter. It’s a bold feminist statement about the ongoing inequality in the public view, and how women are still held to different standards and face different consequences than their male counterparts.

I highly recommend Young Jane Young. Gabrielle Zevin creates people we care about, and she has a talent for making these character feel like people we might meet in our daily lives. I definitely laughed quite a bit while reading it (Rachel and Ruby in particular are terrifically funny people, even when experiencing moments that aren’t funny at all) — but also found myself sad and indignant and ready for a fight!

If you enjoy strong, entertaining, intelligent, vulnerable women leading the way, definitely check out Young Jane Young.


The details:

Title: Young Jane Young
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin
Publication date: August 22, 2017
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Library




Book Review: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Book Review: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

18293427When I finished reading this book and then went back and looked at the book blurb:

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books – and booksellers – that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.

… my first thought was “Damn.” Because in my head, I wanted to say something about this being a love letter to book lovers, and it’s already been said. Double damn.

But really, how can I complain — when I have just read a book that I LOVED so, so much?

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is one of those quiet, unassuming books that you think will be sweet and pleasant — and then BAM! It sneaks up on you, grabs you by the heart, and makes you feel so many feels.

A. J. Fikry, when we first meet him, is a sad, lonely man. A. J. owns Island Books, the one and only bookstore on Alice Island, a short ferry ride away from Hyannis, Massachusetts. The store is not doing very well, and neither is A. J. Since his wife’s death almost two years earlier, A. J. is drifting through his life, drinking himself into oblivion once a week, being grumpy to his customers, and just not finding a reason to care.

All that changes when a drunken night during which a valuable Poe manuscript goes missing triggers a bizarre chain of events which leads to the discovery of a toddler abandoned in the bookstore — who soon becomes the center of A. J.’s life.

As A. J. starts waking up to the possibility of a happy future, his business picks up as well, and little by little Island Books becomes the center of bookish activity on the island. My favorite bookish happening is the Chief’s Choice book club, started by the local police chief and consisting of a book group for cops — which no cop really can decline to participate in, since the chief is the one organizing it.

Meanwhile, a very persistent sales rep from a small publishing company seems to make a very large impression on A. J., and their business relationship slowly blooms into something more, with lots of awkwardness and false starts, but always with a shared passion for books.

Can I just say yet again how much I loved this book? Excuse me for gushing, but The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry seems tailor-made for anyone whose life revolves around reading. (Yes, that includes me, and I suspect it includes anyone reading this review!) Amidst the story of A. J.’s personal journey is a meditation on reading and how a life can be shaped and measured by the books read along the way. So much of what I feel about reading is encapsulated here, and it’s simply beautiful to meet so many characters who feel this way too.

The writing is clever without being forced, yet I found myself laughing out loud at various points, such as :

Ismay has stylishly cut, spiky red hair, pale skin and eyes, long, spindly limbs. All her features are a little too large, her gestures a little too animated. Pregnant, she is like a very pretty Gollum.


Lambiase is recently divorced. He had married his high school sweetheart, so it took him a long time to realize that she was not, in fact, a sweetheart or a very nice person at all.

And yet, even with the humorous tone always present beneath the surface, the emotions are real and visceral:

A. J. watches Maya in her pink party dress, and he feels a vaguely familiar, slightly intolerable bubbling inside of him. He wants to laugh out loud or punch a wall. He feels drunk or at least carbonated. Insane. At first, he thinks this is happiness, but then he determines it’s love. Fucking love, he thinks. What a bother. It’s completely gotten in the way of his plan to drink himself to death, to drive his business to ruin. The most annoying thing about it is that once a person gives a shit about one thing, he finds he has to start giving a shit about everything.

Ultimately, though, what I love most about this wonderful book (and yes, I pretty much loved it all) is what is has to say to about readers and their reading passions:

When she told me it was her favorite, it suggested to me strange and wonderful things about her character that I had not guessed, dark places that I might like to visit.

People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: What is your favorite book?

Don’t miss out: Read The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Filled with beauty and sorrow, love and humor, and an abiding love for books and readers, this book was an unexpected delight for me — and apparently is now one of those books: Books that fill you up with so much emotion and enjoyment that you want to run right out and start putting copies in people’s hands.


The details:

Title: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication date: April 1, 2014
Length: 230 pages
Genre: Adult contemporary
Source: Review copy courtesy of Algonquin Books via Netgalley

Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

There’s nothing like a Wednesday for thinking about the books we want to read! My Wishing & Waiting on Wednesday post is linking up with two fabulous book memes, Wishlist Wednesday (hosted by Pen to Paper) and Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine).

My most wished-for book this week is:


The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
(Release date: April 1, 2014)

Synopsis via Goodreads:

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books-and booksellers-that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

Okay, this book sounds like it’s totally full of win. Because a) Gabrielle Zevin and b) bookstore. Sold! Seriously, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by this author so far, and what could be better than a book about books, book lovers, and book sellers?

What are you wishing for this Wednesday?

Looking for some bookish fun on Thursdays and Fridays? Come join me for my regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday! You can find out more here — come share the book love!


Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

Wishlist Wednesday

Welcome to Wishlist Wednesday!

The concept is to post about one book from our wish lists that we can’t wait to read. Want to play? Here’s how:

  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Do a post about one book from your wishlist and why you want to read it.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of the post at Pen to Paper.
  • Put a link back to Pen to Paper somewhere in your post.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!

My wishlist book this week is:

In the Age of Love and Chocolate (Birthright, #3)

In The Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin

From Goodreads:

All These Things I’ve Done introduced us to timeless heroine Anya Balanchine, a plucky sixteen year old with the heart of a girl and the responsibilities of a grown woman. Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win.
Still, it is Anya’s nature to soldier on. She puts the loss of Win behind her and focuses on her work. Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. But after a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life, she is forced to reckon with her choices and to let people help her for the first time in her life.

Why do I want to read this?

In the Age of Love and Chocolate is the 3rd book in Gabrielle Zevin’s very enjoyable Birthright series. Set just slightly in the future, the trilogy takes place in a New York in which chocolate and caffeine are illegal. Anya is heir to the Balanchine Chocolate crime family, and has to figure out where she fits in among the crime lords, the crime fighters, and her teen schoolmates, who’d really like to make it to prom without too much trouble. True, the illegal chocolate concept may not work completely as a parallel for Prohibition, but trust me — despite the occasional odd moments, the Birthright series really delivers.

Gabrielle Zevin is the talented writer of YA hits Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. You really can’t go wrong with any of her books — but if you haven’t experienced the Birthright series yet, start with All These Things I’ve Done, then move on to Because It Is My Blood. In the Age of Love and Chocolate comes out in October. I can’t wait to see how it all works out!

Besides — chocolate! Mmmmm.

What’s on your wishlist this week?

So what are you doing on Thursdays and Fridays? Come join me for my regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday! You can find out more here — come share the book love!

Book Review: Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

Book Review: Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

Because It Is My Blood, book 2 in the Birthright series which began in All These Things I’ve Done, continues the story of Anya Balanchine, 17-year-old heiress to the Balanchine Chocolate empire. Unfortunately for Anya, in New York in the year 2083, chocolate and caffeine are illegal under the laws of the Second Prohibition. As a result, the Balanchines are a notorious organized crime family, and as the daughter of the murdered head of the family business, Anya is a prime target for both internecine bloodshed and for the law enforcement agents eager to make a big splash in the press.

On top of all this, Anya must worry about protecting both her genius younger sister and her mentally-impaired older brother — not to mention the more typical teenage worries of boyfriends, best friends, and high school graduation. The fact that Anya is a convicted criminal who has served prison time complicates matters tremendously, and when she is re-jailed on trumped-up charges, an escape seems to be the only answer.

Because It Is My Blood is a serviceable second book, moving the plot along at a mostly fast pace, although several of Anya’s sojourns along the way seem to drag a bit. The heart of the story is somewhat lacking in this installment. All These Things I’ve Done was propelled forward not only by the crime family plotline but by a compelling “star-crossed lovers” romance between Anya and the son of the New York District Attorney. This romance still features in the second book, but doesn’t carry the sense of excitement and passion present in the first. In fact, that sums up the problem that I had with Because It Is My Blood. The book often reads as a recitation of facts and events — jailbreaks, deaths real and faked, meetings with lawyers, meetings with Balanchine family members and associates — but without a sense of burning passion driving the story forward.

This is not to say that Because It Is My Blood isn’t fun to read. I got a real kick out of the familiar New York landmarks reimagined in the setting of a deteriorating city with meager resources and ample crime. The popular nightclub Little Egypt is housed in what was once a museum (i.e., The Metropolitan Museum of Art), and a vacant mess of a property with weird lion statues out front (i.e., The New York Public Library) is described as a place where they used to keep paper books in the old days. Anya is amused by the old-fashioned slang of her grandmother (OMG, for example), and there’s a film festival showing ancient movies including one where a lady crosses a river on a horse (which I can only assume is a reference to Lord of the Rings). Little details like these make the story accessible and bring to life both the setting and the era in ways both entertaining and relatable.

By the end of Because It Is My Blood, the stage has been set for what I believe will be an exciting third installment in the trilogy. Anya has made key decisions and is about to take a bold new step that will impact all the people around her and will have dramatic impact on the family business as well as on the New York political world. The developments are quite promising, and the storyline is left hanging with a tremendous amount of potential for a satisfying conclusion to the series.

As a young adult trilogy, the Birthright series has a lot going for it: a smart, strong female protagonist, an unusual premise that breaks from the ubiquitous dystopian model saturating the YA market, and a clear-eyed look at a girl who has to balance love, family, honor, and her own sense of purpose. Because It Is My Blood is not a stand-along novel, and you wouldn’t want to jump into the series with it. But if this type of story appeals to you, I’d definitely recommend giving the series a try, starting with All These Things I’ve Done. The writing is fresh, funny, and appealing, the characters are not run-of-the-mill YA teens… and who can resist a book about chocolate?

Note: I have two other book 2s in the works this week, and may actually be back with a few astute observations when I’m done. Middle children never have it easy, do they?