Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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

Title: All These Things I've Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Series: Birthright #1
Pages: 354
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date Published: September 6th, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Dystopian (ish?)
Source: Library

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.

My Review:
To put it simply, I was not a fan of this book. I wanted to really like it. I tried. Honestly I did. I guess I just couldn't help it...I kind of sort of disliked it with the fire of a few suns. :( It was too bleak for me with not enough redemptive moments to counteract the sadness. I think it was because of how jaded and desolate Anya was. I mean...I suppose I should take it easy on her because she's got a lot on her plate. She's the daughter of a Crime Mobster, and both her parents were killed by rival gangs, in addition to severely handicapping her brother. But would it hurt her to lighten up a little? Even falling in love seemed like an inconvenience to her instead of something playful and full of joy. For someone with so much going on you would think that she would like to get a break from all her trials in the arms of her lover-boy. She has to take care of a dying grandmother, her simple minded brother, and her little sister, all while trying to keep them out of the family business...trafficking chocolate.
That's right. I said trafficking chocolate. *THE HUMANITY!!* I think that was another negative point in my mind. A world where chocolate is illegal is a world where I will be the equivalent of Al Capone...you take away my chocolate, you die. Also...that's entirely unrealistic. I am not the only one who places chocolate roughly below my family and slightly above my man-friend when it comes to the "important to me" scale. In addition, COFFEE is illegal too. Just kill me now. Seriously. If that ever happened in real life I would be on the next plane for Canada, or China, or Europe...or ANYWHERE that would let me indulge in my two biggest vices.

Still, there were quite a few redeeming qualities that made the book not totally suck eggs. All These Things I've Done is an entirely different dystopian than the ones we are used to. In things like the Hunger Games, Matched, etc. The government is obviously corrupt, and there is a definite NEED to change things. In this book...that isn't really nessicary. In fact, it's more or less the way things are today, only a lot seedier and with chocolate as the drug of choice instead of like...weed and adderall and acid. It's really as if you're getting a glimpse of what the future could be 30 years from now if Chocolate was declared illegal tomorrow. There's a lot of realism there and a ton of contemporary fiction aspects like family issues and dealing with death and responsibility. I guess it has to be something you are in the mood for, and apparently I wasn't in that mood at the time.

Another good thing is that you have to expect the unexpected in this book. For example, Anya gets in trouble with the law for possession of chocolate, and she gets put on trial. Normally you would think that she would get off and there wouldn't be too much of a problem (think if someone got busted smoking pot...they'd probably spend the night in jail, get out on bail, then have to do community service) but not Anya. She get's sent to this HORRIFYING children's juvie hall and straight up traumatizing things happen to her. I definitely wasn't expecting that and I certainly wasn't expecting the childcare system to be so horrible after 60 more years of evolution. Then again, after Anya gets out, you think that the book is going to be this brutal and hardcore attack against those who wronged her, or at least the shady members of her family..but no...it becomes this bizarre love story between the daughter of a crime lord and the son of the newly elected Prosecuting Attourney of the state.
Overall I would have to give All These Things I've Done 3.5 Keys. I can see the appeal to some readers because it is entirely unexpected and a heck of a lot different than a lot of the dystopian books out there. At the same time, I feel like I just hated the characters. I didn't get attached to any of them even though they were complex and supposed to be likable. They fell flat because there world wasn't one of hope or promise or even desolation and despair...it was one of bleak hoplessness and indifference and I found myself not caring if Anya was thrown in jail because what would it matter? What can she change? I feel like I probably won't pick up the sequel just because I left this book feeling like I needed a hug and reassurance that my life was worth living. If a book, even a dystopian book, makes you feel like that I'd say toss it...but feel free to decide for yourselves! That's the beauty of reviewing...even though I may have disliked it, there are a ton of bloggers and reviewers out there who loved it. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. NO COFFEE OR CHOCOLATE. I can't see myself surviving. Ahhh. But great review! This book sounds really good.

  2. I have been wanting to read this book for a while. You are not the only one who it fell flat for. I may give it a read once I've finished my huge pile that I have right now.

    And seriously, I might have to go buy coffee and chocolate just to spite this book. Lol.

  3. Nice review you have! ;D

    Here's mine if you don't mind: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/08/all-these-thing-ive-done-by-gabrielle.html

    Thank you and have a nice day!!!!!! =)