Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Published: September 6th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Copy provided by author for honest review
Summary: "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."
First line: "The night before junior year- I was sixteen, barely- Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me."
Thoughts:If Meadow from The Sopranos ever had to live during the time of prohibition, All These Things I've Done would be her story. This novel offers a different take for fans of dystopia. The world may not have ended, but with chocolate and coffee being illegal, it might as well have!
The story revolves around Anya, a daughter in the notorious Balanchine family. Her parents are gone, her grandmother is bedridden, and her eldest brother is not capable of taking care of anyone, let alone himself. It's all up to Anya to take care of the family. She knows this and accepts it. One of the things I love about Anya is though her life is tough, she never once cowers to it. She might be part of the Balanchine family by name, but that does not determine nor define who she is. The best way I can think of to help really describe Anya and her ideals on the family name is from this quote:
"Our birthright was to be Balanchines, but our birthright does not have to be violence and death."
Courageous, independent, headstrong, and overall amazing. These are things that describe her. As far as well-written, strong main characters go, Anya is top notch and quite frankly, one of the best, most diverse protagonists I've read about in quite some time. Needless to say, I heart her.
Moving on, if you've read the summary, you know that Anya's love interest is a little less than ideal. I think controversial and ultimately disastrous are the best ways to describe it. You see, dear friends, Win is the assistant D.A.'s son and remember, Anya's a mafia princess. What's a girl to do? Lie. Lie to protect your family and lie to protect yourself. And though their relationship is flawed in many, many ways, I couldn't help but fall in love with the both of them. In a strange way, they complete each other, and I absolutely adored watching their relationship blossom.
Oh, and for you drama lovers, there are plenty of scandals, betrayals, and other various naughty things that will engage you until the very end. I will admit, somewhere in the middle, the pacing ran a little slow for my taste. Don't fret, though. The pacing will pick right back up until the very end.
Oh, and the best part? While this novel is part of a series, it can also read as a standalone. That's right, no antagonizing cliffhanger that'll make you want to throw the book against the wall and scream bloody murder. Giggidy!
Overall, I really enjoyed All These Things I've Done and very much look forward to reading it's sequel. While the story is set in 2083, it very much reminded me of the prohibition era adding even more flare to the story line. For fans of contemporary literature and dystopia, I'd recommend checking this book out. It's kind of like coffee and chocolate: sweet, bitter, and unlike anything you've ever experienced.