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Literature / Birthright

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The Birthright trilogy is a young adult gangster dystopia written by Gabrielle Zevin.

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. Anya Balanchine is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss. The series begins when her ex is accidentally poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures, and the police think she's to blame. Throughout the course of the series, Anya is constantly forced to choose between accepting her birthright and following her heart.

The books in the trilogy are:

  • All These Things I've Done
  • Because It Is My Blood
  • In the Age of Blood and Chocolate

Unrelated to the comic book or board game by the same name.

This series provides examples of...

  • Amoral Attorney: At first, Charles Delacroix seems like a far if pragmatic District Attorney, though the second book has him attempting murder just like everyone else.
  • Attempted Rape: Gable attempts to rape to Anya early in the first book. She ends her relationship with him shortly after.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: Filthy, poverty-stricken, and crime-ridden, New York City in 2083 ain't pretty.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Lawmakers and criminals alike are corrupt and amoral in Anya's universe, leaving her with nowhere to turn and no one to trust.
  • Black Market Produce: Chocolate and coffee are in such short supply that there are mafias that control their trade and sale. They're considered to be such a luxury as cocaine, in-universe.
  • Bury Your Disabled: Subverted in the second book, since Leo isn't actually dead.
  • Childhood Brain Damage: Leo, Anya's older brother, had this, leaving him severely mentally disabled.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: She may be conflicted, and struggle with loathing that aspect of herself, but Anya is undeniably skilled at her father's steely, business-like management of the ruthless mafia business. Plus, however deep-down, she does enjoy it.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Deconstructed. Anya is morally and religiously opposed to the mafia, but she is drawn to it - by circumstance, by the fact that it's in her blood, and by the fact that a part of her loves it.
  • Dating Catwoman: Win Delacroix, son of the assistant DA, romances Anya Balanchine, successor to the Balanchine mob and murder suspect.
  • Girls Behind Bars: Anya spends time in a female correctional facility. Unusual to the trope, hers is more akin to the male depictions of prison, unglamorous, with ruthless occupants, abusive wardens, and a protagonist desperate to get out.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Anya, as the dark-haired, troubled, angsty cynic, and Win as the blonde level-headed, law-abiding romantic.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Chocolate and coffee are treated as illegal drugs by both law and by their abusers. The illicit substances we know today are nowhere to be found; perhaps, given limited water, they are too expensive or difficult to be produced.
  • Mafia Princess: Anya Balanchine may have been one as a girl, but she inherits the family business young, what with the death of her father.
  • The Mafiya: The Balanchine family, dealers of illicit chocolate and coffee, are the future version of the Russian mob.
  • Meaningful Name: Gable Arsley is quite the arse, to say the least.
  • Promotion to Parent: With an inept older brother, neurotic younger sister, ailing grandmother, and two dead parents, Anya runs her own household as she tries to get through school and eventually take over the family business.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: 2083 sees a dramatically negative shift in society, but it's not unbelievable - much of the events feel eerily similar to Prohibition or the urban crime of the 1970s, coupled with the increasingly imminent issues caused by global warming.