October 27, 2011

Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Hardcover, 354 pages
Published September 6, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

I had high expectations going into All These Things I’ve Done, and unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I did enjoy the story overall, however.

All These Things I’ve Done starts out slowly. It took me quite some time to get into the story and start caring about the characters. Eventually, the characters became my favorite part of the story. I loved Anya. She was a very strong, level-headed character and it was quite refreshing for me. She was practical, thoughtful, and just very unique. Her brother and her sister were great characters and added a layer of family value that added a lot to the story. I wasn’t quite as fond of her best friend Scarlett, or the love interest. Scarlett seemed a little too good to be true, and Win lacked the development we saw in all the other main characters. Nevertheless, Anya, Leo, and Natty made up for that.

My only real issue with this story was the plot. I am a HUGE dystopian fan. When I think dystopian, I expect a lot of world-building, but that was nearly non-existent in this story. It was character driven for the most part, and I didn’t see the purpose in having it in the future, to be honest. Chocolate and caffeine being illegal seemed like a marketing gimmick. It just didn’t seem to make much sense, and we weren’t given a lot of explanation. Alcohol was legal to all ages, and yet chocolate and coffee were completely illegal? I just didn’t find it believable. I think Anya’s father could have just as well been a leader for a marijuana ring, and the story would have been much the same.

Despite the hang-ups, I still enjoyed All These Things I’ve Done. Zevin’s writing style is very enjoyable, and the characterization is phenomenal. It was a good story, and worth a read.

3/5 Stars

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