Tuesday, July 8, 2014

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


I didn't dislike it.
But I'm not writhing in pain from it ending either.

In the year 2083, chocolate is the new contraband. As we all know, or should, if we've paid any attention to history at all, whatever is illegal, will soon open a door to black markets and organized crime families. For 16 year old Anya Ballenchine, that organized crime family just happens to be her family.

The Ballenchine's have had their fair share of cliche'd issues: Leonyd Ballenchine, her father, was murdered by unnamed assassins years ago, her mother and brother were tragic casualties of a botched hit years prior, leaving her mother dead and her brother severely mentally depreciated, and she receives guidance from an ever-dying swarthy ancient grandmother (who was born in 1995, which made me cringe in my heart).

When her best friend Scarlet decides that the boy she's crushing on, a new student by the name of Goodwin Dellacroix, would be better suited for Anya, Anya tries hard to NOT like him. She's just gotten through a pretty bitter break-up with her boyfriend Gable Arsley, a caffeine addict who wouldn't take no for an answer, and with her family structure leaving her to be the clear head, she'd rather not jump into another relationship. But wouldn't you know it, their chemistry is too real for her to deny.

So of course, we find out that Win's father is none other than the next in line for District Attorney of New York City.
Of course he would be.

I didn't dislike this book. I did however, feel as though it's engine never fully turned over for me. Anya was a smart, quick-thinking, and introspective character, (if not a control-freak), and very interesting to listen to, but because she was so very introspective, the author gives us a lot of what Anya feels about everything, and how everything affects Anya, while we lose sight of what is really important to the contributing characters.

Win, for example, is likeable enough, but one can't really get into just WHY he's so smitten with the daughter of the city's biggest name in crime.

The nods to Prohibition were not necessarily subtle, even including an appearance of a flapper dress and a speakeasy, but I still believe the author could have gone even farther with them. The same goes for a rather interesting chocolate poisoning plot, and a crime syndicate. Don't tap dance around the theme, jump in! So I guess my only complaint was that it didn't go AS cliche and crazy as it really could have.

All that said, for fans of 1920's era historical-futuristic fiction, star-crossed lovers, and even corrupt correctional facilities, this is a nice summer read.


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