Book Review: All these Things I’ve Done

It’s Tuesday!  That means it is time for a book review.  Tuesday Book Reviews are a part of my Daily Post; to find more about it, click here!

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“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.

Engrossing and suspenseful, All These Things I’ve Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and the fantastic.”-Goodreads summary

Judge the Book by its Cover:

  • Simplistic.  However, it provides the few necessary images and phrases that give an outsider the “reader’s digest” version of this novel.  Very innovative!

Things that Made Me Happy:

  • Anya is an extremely strong protagonist.  The summary does not even cover the difficulties she encounters.  Regardless, she fights through every battle and never overreacts; she approaches each ordeal calmly and resolves her problems.  Overall, I think Anya is a great character to read and an example to the YA target audience.
  • I also loved the strong commitment to family in this novel.  Unity and loyalty to family is a major theme in this book, and I believe the author does so to remind her audience the importance of one’s family and its commitments.  Despite the family’s difficulties, every member attempts to resolve conflicts in order to ensure its success.  While many YA books contain themes of commitment, I believe this novel offers a different perspective and strongly ingrains it in the reader’s mind.
  • I also loved the pop culture references the book mentioned to our era.  For example, I died laughing when Anya and her friends were attempting to recall what “OMG” means!  It kind of made me realize how ridiculous “text lingo” sounds…
  • Lastly, I really enjoyed Anya’s frequent quotes from her deceased father.  That man is intelligent and insightful!  His little sayings are so valid to everyone’s life and can be appreciate by all.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

  • The world building in this novel completely fell flat for me.  Many years ago, I read Elsewhere, which is written by the same author.  I LOVED THAT BOOK; it is basically about what happens when people die and the rich environment in which they live.  It is fantastic and compelling.  When I saw this book is by the same author, I immediately wanted to read it, having the expectation of it being comparable, if not better, to its predecessor.  Additionally, I was enthralled that it was dystopian.  When done the right way, I LOVE dystopians, and after her success with her previous novel, I had high hopes for some epic world building.  Unfortunately, the world building was little or, dare I say it, nonexistent.  For example, I had no idea the book took place in 2083 until I just looked up the Goodreads summary.  Nowhere does the book mention this date.  In fact, one would think the book takes place simply a few years into the future. Furthermore, it provides no explanations as to why or how the world is the way it is.  Frequently, the  “chocolate is contraband” mantra is mentioned in this novel.  As a chocolate lover, I was extremely curious as to figure out why.  I never got my answer.  There are additional differences in the world that the author never attempts to explain and leave the reader to innovate his or her own answers to the world.  That is not how dystopian novels are supposed to work!  With such great world building in her first book, I was extremely disappointed by its lack in this book.
  • I am not like some reviewers who have a huge problem with romance in young adult novels.  More often than not, I enjoy the occasional romance; it makes my insides all tingly!  Who doesn’t love some loving?!  Unfortunately, the romance in this book never felt completely unbelievable.  It was not necessarily insta-love; I just thought it completely contradicted Anya’s strong sense of family.  Why does she pursue this relationship when it brings harm?  I love a girl or guy who has the ability to be independent and not let love define himself or herself.  Sadly, I do not believe Anya acted this way.
  • The ending.   
  • I guess I should explain that more.  Here’s my reaction: “WHAT?!?!?”  Good luck attempting to figure out what that means because I still have no idea…but seriously, what the heck, Gabrielle Zevin?
  • Lastly, the plot is very unlike the summary in both the book flap and on Goodreads.  To be honest, I wish the book pursued more of  its “original intentions.”  There is so much potential in that story versus the overall plot.  

My Rating:

★★★ 3/5 stars!

Recommendations:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy young adult fiction, science fiction/dystopian, romance, and mystery novels.

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