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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Original, Dystopian Romp Leaves Me Begging For More

(Image from Indiebound)

It's 2083 and the mean streets of New York City haven't gotten any kinder. Gangs rule the buroughs, making violent crime a daily battle. With water rationing, food shortages, constant changes in the law, and few police officers left to enforce them, the bankrupt city's become a bleak, dangerous place to live. Residents can't even turn to chocolate for consolation, since that's been outlawed along with caffeine, cell phones with cameras and a million other things. Still, it's not like 16-year-old Anya Balanchine's being forced to hunt other teens in a treacherous arena or marry a stranger against her will - her life really is fairly routine.

As routine as life gets for the teenage daughter of New York City's most notorious crime boss, anyway.

Anya's life has already been ripped apart by her association (however innocent) with "the family." Her parents are dead - both murdered by hitmen - leaving Anya to deal with her ailing grandmother, her brain-injured older brother, and her vulnerable younger sister pretty much on her own. Her mafiya relations have done quite enough damage; she wants nothing more to do with them. Ever. She'd like to shuck the whole Balanchine legacy, go to college in some faraway city, and live happily ever after in some anonymous place where no one knows her. If only her siblings didn't need her so much. If only she wasn't next in line to inherit her family's chocolate-manufacturing business. If only she wasn't Anya Balanchine.

But she is.

So, she'll deal with her siblings, her lowlife mafiya relatives, and the fallout from being a mobster's daughter. Which means that when her jerky ex-boyfriend lands in the hospital after illegally consuming Balanchine chocolate, Anya takes the blame. But she's not as guilty as her surname would suggest. In fact, she's perfectly innocent, she just has to prove it. To clear her name, she'll have to take on the most feared family in New York City - her own.

All These Things I've Done (available September 6), the first book in a new YA trilogy by Gabrielle Zevin, introduces a gutsy heroine with an irresistible voice. It's impossible not to root for Anya as she takes on the tough-as-nails world of organized crime in an effort to save herself and what's left of her family. I had a few issues with the book (Don't I always?), but mostly I just enjoyed this romp through one of the scariest dystopian societies I've ever enountered (No chocolate? Terrifying.). Seriously, though, I loved the originality of the novel's premise, most of the characters, and even the forbidden romance between Anya and the assistant DA's son (although Win could use some roughing up - he's a little too perfect). All These Things I've Done hasn't even come out yet, but I'm already aching for a sequel. Write like the wind, Gabrielle!

(Readalikes: Reminded me a little of Heist Society by Ally Carter and The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped by Yxta Maya Murray)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), violence, and a little bit of sexual content/innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of All These Things I've Done from the generous folks at Macmillan/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Thank you!


  1. Looks like my library already has then on order. I'm #10 on the request list. Not bad. I read the book Elsewhere by this author. I cant remember what I thought of it???

  2. oooo I can't wait to read this! Your review makes me want to read it even more.

    Awesome review!
    have a great weekend :)
    Caroline @ Bon Bons and Reveries

  3. Got this in from the library and read it one day. It was nice to read a dystopian novel that didnt have the characters scrounging for food, water and shelter.
    Cant help but love Scarlet and her loyalty. Really enjoyed the book but I dont think I will being giving it to my YW. Some of those make out sessions where a little to hot.


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