October 29, 2011

REVIEW: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published: 6 September 2011
Edition: 1st; Hardcover: 354 pages

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.

My Review:

In this book, we meet 16 year old Anya Balanchine, or better known as Annie by her family and friends. We see her years after the deaths of her mother then criminal boss father. She literally tells us her story. She must protect her immediate family: Leo her older brother, damaged and a little sensitive from a childhood accident and her sweet younger sister Natty from her mafia family. She also tries to deal with the fact that her grandmother and legal guardian is at death's door. She tells us her everyday life and the constant struggle she has to go through. She tells us how she has to juggle school all the while keeping her family under the radar of the government and child protective services and the scrutiny of being a daughter of a notorious criminal. She tries to keep her jerk of an ex-boyfriend away from her and she tries not to fall for a wonderful boy, but son of a DA named Win.

I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read. It wasn't complex and I had no trouble diving into Anya Balanchine's world. It saddens me that I'm practically dead during this time in Anya's life, but what I loved most about this book is the setting of it all. Some dystopian books (although this read more like a contemporary dystopian novel), give me trouble seeing and imagining the world. Some books I just can't seem to picture it. This book, I can imagine where Anya lives and goes to school at Holy Trinity and the underground speakeasies. I can imagine New York in the state that it is during 2083: kids running around wanting chocolate an coffee, trying to mug other people, drinking and going to bars. It's not a place I would like to live in, but I can visualize it so clearly that I thought I was living there.

I also loved the concept of chocolate and coffee being illegal and how simple things like candles and ice cream need to be bought not with money, but with vouchers. And water is so limited Anya can only take a 10 minute shower. These concepts seem real. I can imagine our country becoming this way. I like the realism this books gives.

I've read some mixed reviews about this book, mainly about Anya. I loved Anya. She's honest, brave, and strong. She cares deeply for her siblings. She lets no one step on her and she's tough. Sometimes Anya can be a bit rude and sometimes downright mean, but she has charm and I love her. While she tells us her story, I feel as if I've known her. As if we are friends. That's how this book makes you feel. It's as if your sitting with Anya in her little room where she lives and she's telling you her story. It's as if she's there with you, for real. I have never read about a character as real as Anya. That's why her imperfections make her real. They make her likable, because she's just an ordinary 16 year old trying to get by. I can't relate to her directly because our lives are different, but I was 16 once. Anya just wants to be a normal 16 year old, but how can she with the world she lives in? I don't care what anyone says. Anya is great and I love her spunk.

I highly recommend everyone to give this book a chance. It really is good.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

*Thanks to Sarah @ Inklings Read for this book that I won through a giveaway and for the publisher for sending it. 

This review was in no way influenced by Inklings Read or the publisher. My opinion is my own.

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