Review: All These Things I’ve Done – Gabrielle Zevin
Series: Birthright Book 1 Genre: Young Adult / Dystopia Published: September 2011 Links: Amazon Book Depository US Blurb
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.
MacMillian UK Blurb
For Anya, love will become a life-or-death choice…
New York 2082. When Anya is arrested for attempted murder, the District Attorney offers her a choice: stay away from his son or watch helplessly as he destroys her family. It should be a straightforward decision. Except that the DA’s son is the boy Anya loves, and her family is at the dark heart of the city’s criminal underworld.
Anya must choose between love and loyalty, knowing that whatever she decides will have shattering consequences: heartbreak or a gangland war that will tear the city apart.
The copy of All These Things I’ve Done that I read was the paperback UK version from MacMillian UK, and I was all set to complain about the blurb being a bad description of the story. This is not a star-crossed lover’s tale, instead it’s Anya story. But in preparing this review, I found the blurb from the US release of All These Things I’ve Done. I’ve included both blurbs above and I think the US blurb is a better representation of the book narrative. In my opinion, it’s a blurb fail to MacMillian UK.
I enjoyed All These Things I’ve Done, a dystopian novel set in New York in the 2080’s. The novel tells the story of Anya Balanchine, the daughter of a slain mob-boss. In the future chocolate and coffee are illegal and Anya’s family are chocolate distributors. I think the idea is almost 1920’s prohibition but chocolate rather than alcohol.
The novel is a first person narrative – the narrator being Anya Balanchine. She and her sibling are orphans, following the violent death of both parents. The family now live with their elderly infirm grandmother. Anya by necessity is the leader and caretaker of her younger sister Natty and older brother Leo. She and her sibling have suffered trauma in the past and Anya’s mission is to protect her sibling. She wants to keep her head down, not draw attention and keep her siblings safe. However circumstances including her wider extended family and their business, her unpredictable temper and Win, an intriguing new boy at school disrupt her plans.
All These Things I’ve Done is not a perfect novel but none the less I raced through the story and enjoyed Anya’s tale. Anya is an admirable character – she’s is loving, strong and protective of her siblings. She tries to put their needs first but she’s also a sixteen year old girl and makes mistakes. I liked the depiction of Anya and her family and friends – the characters were well drawn, with the exception of Win, who I felt was sketchy and lacked depth. The plot of the novel was interesting and tension filled – I was unsure what was going to happen next. I enjoyed the authors writing style but felt the world building was a little thin. All in all an interesting story and I’ll be reading Book 2 Because It Is My Blood released in September 2012.
My Rating: 7/10