Title: All These Things I’ve Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Birthright (Book 1)
Publication Date: September 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 354 Pages
ISBN-10: 0374302103 (Mac Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0374302108 (Mac Teen)
Reviewed by: Kayla
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.
Quick & Dirty: A humorous and well thought-out story of loyalty to family and friends.
Opening Sentence: The night before junior year–I was sixteen, barely– Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me.
Can I just say how much I love the writing and message and plot of this book? ‘Kay, I feel better getting that out of the way.
Anya Balanchine has many responsibilities. One: take care of her dying grandmother. Two: care for her mentally eight year old brother who is actually 19 and her 12 year old sister. Three: stay out of the lime light at all costs. Four: avoid her jerk of an ex-boyfriend and try not to fall for the new boy in town who happens to be the son of the head of the police. Did I mention her father was the head of a major mafia family? Juggling all of these responsibilities while also trying to get through high school makes Anya’s life a little more than hectic. But when she is thrown into the spotlight at the most inconvenient time, her life takes a turn for the worst. Fabulous characters with great morals make this story one of my favorites.
I can’t help but compare this book (characters, plot, writing, etc.) to Ally Carter’s Heist Society series. If you like the characters in Heist Society, you will love the characters in this book. Anya is a strong, dependable narrator (and she even says so) and protagonist. She has “Daddy-isms” for almost anything pertaining to business or just life in general. Her father, a crime lord in New York who has his own business in chocolate (also illegal), died when she was younger from a hit squad who broke into their house. It left her in charge after her mentally unstable brother and genius little sister. Originally their grandmother watched over them, but when her health slowly declined, it left Anya with more responsibilities than even an average adult would have. I admire her strength and her morals that she sticks to no matter the temptation. Even if the temptation is an extremely good-looking young man that wears fedoras.
Win isn’t the average YA boy. He isn’t particularly a “good boy” or a “bad boy.” I consider him more of a neutral person that has good morals. He tries to rebel against his D.A. dad (who, by the way, is intimidating as all get-out). He tries to impress and get to know Anya despite her family background (which is really endearing). He tries to stay tough, even though he was brought up with everything he ever asked for. He isn’t really broken, like most other YA boys, but there is a hint of insecurity. Overall, he’s a unique love interest that’s very lovable but also is a very flat character.
The writing is what really hooked me from the very first chapter. The narrator (Anya) is aware of the audience and often times talks directly to the audience. If you love Ally Carter’s writing, then you will love Zevin’s witty banter and (insightful? I guess you could consider them insightful to Anya’s characteristics) maxims.
Warning: cliffhanger dead ahead. BUT the next book is already out so: cliffhanger avoided.
“Why are you crying?” I asked.
Scarlet waved her hand in front of her face in a manner that struck me as almost comical. “The way that boy looks at you! And he doesn’t even know why you’re…I wish I could tell him.”
“Scarlet, don’t go getting any ideas.”
“I would never betray your trust! Never!” Scarlet blew her nose on her sleeve. “It’s so tragic.”
“It’s not tragic,” I assured her. “This is nothing. Tragedy is when someone ends up dead. Everything else is just a bump in the road.” For the record, that was something Daddy used to say, but I’m pretty sure Shakespeare would have agreed, too.
FTC Advisory: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan provided me with a copy of All These Things I’ve Done. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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