Thursday, September 29, 2011
Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
release date: September 6th, 2011
hardcover, 354 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: from publisher for honest review
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.
Review: I think the synopsis of this one will really hit a chord with a lot of people. I mean, really...who out there can imagine their day without the morning cup of coffee or tea. Or even more horrid, who can imagine a day when that little nip of daily chocolate (writing this as I crunch, crunch on my frozen thin mint cookies!) is grounds for arrest?? But the outlawing of these little luxuries that we all take for granted daily is not what this story is really about. This story is about Anya. I absolutely loved this character. She was so genuine, not perfectly brave or perfectly admirable by any means---but just authentic; sometimes flawed but doing her best by the people she cared about. As the oldest daughter of the former crime boss of chocolate, the girl had a lot to deal with, that is for sure. A crazy ex-boyfriend that unwittingly becomes the victim of mysterious chocolate poisoning, a lovely new boy whose father is the new assitant DA that can think of nothing else but how her name will look next to his in the papers, a grandmother who is on her deathbed, and a brother and sister, whom she fiercely cares for and does what she can to protect. Oh, and a gaggle of relatives that are still in the "business" and trying to rope her older (but younger minded) brother in. For one teenage girl, I'd say that's quite a handful. In spite of that, I think making the story about a girl trying to live down an ugly reputation, protect her family, and juggle in mundane things like school, boys, and vying for a spot at an exclusive summer camp, made her all the more easy to relate to, despite her unusual situations.
I love how with just the banning of two little things like chocolate and caffeine, Zevin created a world that had almost a throw-back feel to prohibition and the 20's. The chocolate manufacturers have become the new gangsters and mafia families, there are hot little speakeasies where chocolate and coffee are served up in secret, and grandma's got a hidden safe full of chocolate bars and loaded guns. The whole concept made for such an entertaining read. It was also interesting to read a dystopia where things aren't so far in the future that our own recognizable world has been erased. Anya's best friend's grandma still remembers using the term "omg", though no one can remember what it means. We even get a surprising little glimpse at Lady Liberty. I'm not really sure I would call it world-building...after all, it's only 70 years into the future. It's more a speculation on how little tweeks in our society might change the way our world works.
This was a really great book. Read, enjoy...but keep a little chocolate close by! :)
Visit Gabrielle Zevin's site here.
Purchase All These Things I've Done at: Amazon • BN.com • BookDepository • Indiebound