Monday, 2 April 2012
Review: All These Things I've Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: September 6th, 2011
Genre: YA, Romance, Dystopia
In 2083, sixteen year old Anya Balanchine is the daughter of New York’s famous (and deceased) mob king. Caffeine and chocolate are illegal and Anya’s family has made their money by illegally selling chocolate. Since her father died when she was a child, Anya has had to be the one who looks after her family. Her older brother Leo suffered a major brain injury in the attack that took their mother’s life, and Anya’s guardian is her elderly grandmother. Anya has to take care of everyone, including her younger sister Natty. When Anya meets Win, the new District Attorney’s son, she knows that he has feelings for her but that a romance between the two of them would be bad news. When her ex-boyfriend is poisoned from Anya’s chocolate, she becomes the main suspect. After her friendship with Win gets her out of trouble, she can’t help feeling attracted to him, even though a romance between the two of them could be disastrous for her family.
Taking it for what it was, I liked All These Things I’ve Done. While it might be lighter on the dystopia and heavier on the romance, this mafia story set in the future was easy to get caught up in. All These Things I’ve Done didn’t fit into how I imagined it to be, especially since it was dissimilar to most dystopian books. While set in the future (the main character’s grandmother is five years my junior) it still felt like modern times but with some changes. It was interesting to see this crime filled New York where museums have been converted into bars and half of Lady Liberty is missing. There were some flaws in the dystopian aspect of the plot, such as why chocolate was illegal but alcohol was not. I also didn’t find the romance entirely convincing. However, what I liked most about this book was the familial and mafia aspects of the plot. These were the most emotional and compelling parts of the story, in my opinion. The strongest characters were Anya and her family and if I were to pick up the sequel (which I probably will, eventually) it would be to see what happens to them. The plot takes place over the school year, and it was well paced and exciting at times. The choice of New York City as the setting was a smart decision, since nearly everyone is familiar with the city at least enough to see how much it has changed by Anya’s time. The writing was good, and I especially liked the writing style, which is told as if Anya were catching us up on her life. At my bookstore, All These Things I’ve Done was featured in a display for fans of The Hunger Games. While this comparison doesn’t quite fit, this book about loyalty, crime and a different kind of inheritance is worth checking out.
“People go crazy, not because they are crazy, but because it's the best available option at the time.”