Title: All These Things I’ve Done
Series: Birthright, #1
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Romance
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: September 6th, 2011
Source: Received in the Books ‘n’ Bloggers swap from Katie of Bookish Illuminations
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’m just going to get this out of the way: this book hinted at being better than it ultimately was, for me.
The mafia elements were well done, but also unbelievable (the paparazzi are staking out this inactive child of a mafioso who was killed 7 years ago, because there’s nothing else of note in NYC? Really???). I liked the political intrigue in the family, but it was downplayed next to everything else. The way it was downplayed leads me to believe that the sequel will be dealing more with that, but this story wasn’t engaging enough for me to keep reading the series.
In terms of characters, I really liked Scarlet and Anya. They felt believable, and their friendship was rock solid. The one bothering aspect was Anya’s sudden parroting of her father (again, who was murdered when she was 9 years old, so I have difficult she believes those two dozen ‘phrases to live by’ she keeps attributing to him) and its sudden appearance and disappearance in the third quarter of the story.
I felt most turned off by the romance, which was highly unbelievable. Anya, I get. But Win felt unreal, more caricature than character, a plot device for Anya. I would have rather not been distracted by that, and focused solely on Anya navigating the tricky waters of her life.
In all, it was an entertaining, but ultimately disappointing read, promising more than it delivered and often taking the easy way out of what would be an interesting situation to explore.