Series: Blood for Blood #3
Published by Chicken House Ltd. on January 5th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
A blood war rages on the streets of Chicago.
Protected by an infamous mafia family, Sophie is living a dangerous lie, pretending to lead a normal life. But the deceit can’t last for ever. Her heart belongs to a killer and Sophie’s the prime target of a rival clan. She’s determined to seek revenge on her mother’s murderers, but can she pay the price – can she be a mafiosa?
The third and final instalment in the explosive YA Blood for Blood series which started with Vendetta and Inferno.
Mafiosa was by far my most anticipated instalment for 2017. So imagine how ecstatic I was to find it on my doorstep on January 30th, a couple of days before the official release date. I swear, I didn’t make the Godfather an offer he couldn’t refuse. Or, make a pact with the devil (though I would have). Or, bribe the publisher. It was a miracle.
The fact that the sequel Inferno remains my favourite book in the series means that not everything about Mafiosa went according to plan. For the most part, Mafiosa was the addictive, gripping and action-packed rollercoaster I hoped it would be. I sat down, forgot about the world and blew through this in one sitting. Sadly, there were a couple of things that got in the way of my complete and utter bliss with this book.
However, we learn in our communication seminars at university that feedback should start off with the positive aspects, so let’s unwrap the cake.
❀ Luca. I don’t think there’s a universe in which I wouldn’t unconditionally love this guy, alright? He’s a romantic geek who doesn’t belong into the family and the underworld he was born into. I loved that he didn’t just trail behind Sophie like a puppy, but that he stood his ground when she acted out (I’ll get to that in a sec). Also, since when has all the self-blame become so sexy, huh? I don’t know how Doyle does it, but she does it. Do I think she overdid it with the nerdiness and soft gooeyness of a mafia underboss? Yes, a little. But I just don’t care. This guy is responsible for so many beautiful and powerful scenes in this book, and this series wouldn’t be the same without him.
❀ The side characters. These little shits were so enjoyable (ok, except for Nic, but he was bound to go down as the buzzkill). Valentino, for example, has some of his best moments. He finally lets a small portion of his guard down in front of Sophie, which is actually one of the cutest bonding moments in the book, even better than the moment Sophie has with Elena Genovese. Some further history of the blood war is brought into the light, providing an explanation for how the feud started in the first place. You won’t believe it but I also really liked Gino, the precious little weirdo. And Millie, of course, but she gets her own bullet point.
❀ The romance. Mafiosa doesn’t just hand it to you on a silver plate. You get to suffer halfway through the book, watching your ship sail on rough seas. (But pssst, there are plenty of make-out scenes to make up for it. You’re welcome, ladies). The flaring tension between Luca and his brother make for an entertaining ride. View Spoiler »I think I almost opened a bottle of champagne when Luca seized the opportunity to spit his love for Sophie in Nic’s face. Best. Scene. Ever. « Hide Spoiler
❀ The plot twists. Holy Mother of God, this woman knows how to smack you over the back of the head with plot twists. I mean, some of them she hinted at; others she attacked you with from behind before you could even anticipate it. The first book Vendetta was so predictable, but the sequels were a bouquet of twists (I’ll take that over actual flowers for Valentine’s Day anytime).
❀ The female friendship. Oh, it was strong in this series in general, but never as empowering as in Mafiosa. There’s a point where Millie says to Sophie that they are the true love story here, and I just fistbumped the air. No, their friendship wasn’t perfect. They hid things from each other. They lied to each other. But Millie is that one in a million friend that’ll see you get sucked into quicksand and jump in after you to get you out. In the first book, I thought she was going to be this two-dimensional cardboard character, and though we don’t get a huge amount of characterization, Doyle successfully instrumentalized her to prove a point: Female friendships rule. And Millie is everything.
So, after some extensive gushing, I’ll now move on to the disappointments of this book.
➽ Sophie. This girl and me, we have a bumpy history. I was hesitant about liking her in book one. I rooted for her in book two. But in this book, she irked me. She used to see right through Nic’s bullshit about revenge solving all the problems, but in Mafiosa, she held a grudge so big it distorted her perspective on things. Now, I’m not saying grief doesn’t mess with your head, because it does, but I would’ve expected her to see reason sooner. Instead, she was a stubborn little shit throughout the book, ending up making me so angry. The ending was somewhat redeeming for the crap she pulled before, I guess, but was this really necessary?
➽ Retribution. This is me ranting about a spoilery twist, so don’t click on that spoiler button unless you’ve read the book. I’ve given you a fair warning. View Spoiler »Sophie’s father killing Jack was a fitting retribution for the death of his wife and his daughter’s mother, I think. But then Nic shoots the guy and EVERYONE IS OK WITH IT??? WHAT EVEN??? Sure, someone yells at him for being an idiot, but that’s all. That is fucking all. I was so angry with this turn of events. I would’ve been alright with his death per se, but not how it was handled. Nic got away with a lot of things in this series, but this is where I draw the line. « Hide Spoiler
➽ Reality check. You know, not everything in this series was completely realistic to me, but they were small things that I easily ignored. But Mafiosa is the book that pulled a stunt that is highly unlikely to happen IRL. View Spoiler »The Mafia flourishes on a foundation of complete and utter devotion. There are members that run – we call them pentiti, which comes from the Italian word remorseful – and they go into hiding, change their names, alter their appearance with plastic surgery, and whatever the hell ensures their safety. That Luca, who became the capomafia after Valentino’s death, would run away from his duties to be with Sophie and then show up at a broadway show a few months late is highly unlikely: 1) He’d be dead. You betray the mafia, you never show your face in the same city (or the same continent, for that matter) again, and 2) This doesn’t fit his character at all. Yes, he’s in love, but his loyality to his family was something that defined him. He wouldn’t leave them for slaughter. Not in my Luca universe, at least. « Hide Spoiler I was expecting Doyle to pull something to make her envisioned ending work, but you cannot bend the rules of the mafia nor the characters’ traits to achieve a certain storyline. From where I’m standing, Mafiosa ended with an unrealistic bang.
Inferno was perfection. Mafiosa was just good. Hence, I cannot give this 5 stars which breaks my heart because I was ready to praise this book from the rooftops.
The Blood for Blood series as a whole I’d still recommend, though, if a YA contemporary Romeo and Juliet storyline with a mafia setting sounds like your cup of tea. The writing is kept rather simple, so this makes for an easy and relaxing read inbetween dense epic fantasy sagas – just saying. Personally, I found the series to be incredibly addictive, and as a debut author, Catherine Doyle made immensive progress with each book. Inferno will forever remain one of my all-time favourites.