Published: September 2011
Publisher: Farrar. Straus and Giroux
Copy: From Publisher
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.
I've heard 'All These Things I've Done' called a dystopian novel, but after having finished it, I'm not entirely sure that's how I would class it. Yes, it is set in the future, and the world is not the same, but it didn't have quite that same dark feeling to it that most novels in this category do. The one novel I am tempted to compare it to is Holly Black's 'White Cat'. Not so much in content, as in tone. There is a degree of levity to ATTID that takes it away from the dystopian genre, for me at least. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it though. In fact, I enjoyed it immensely. There is something entirely plausible in the idea that the US has banned chocolate and coffee, but still allows alcohol!
Ms Zevin writes her main character (Annie/Anya) with a practical no-nonsense voice that was wonderful to read -
'I could go on and on about Win, but personally, I'm sickened by that sort of thing. Daddy always said that if a person had a bout of good fortune, that person would do best to keep it to herself. Win felt like the best stroke of luck I'd had for a very long time. (Insert finger in throat if you'd like ...) But yes, I was happy for a time. I was the kind of girl I usually hate, and I realize that the only reason I ever hated those girls in the first place was because I envied them. Clichéd? Yes, undoubtedly, but it also happened to be true.' (p208)
'It was all I could manage not to throw the macaroni against the wall. Still, I knew it was no good getting mad at my brother. Not to mention, it seemed excessive to commit two violent acts with pasta in the same day' (p29)
See what I mean about no-nonsense and levity? ( By the way, the first violent act with pasta was something I have wanted to do myself, but didn't have the guts. Way to go Annie!) The story has a bit of a mystery element that wasn't too complex and I was able to work out who the 'bad' guy was without too much difficulty, but the journey was fun. Love story - yes, but not too serious. There is also a nice message in there about tolerance that stayed away from being preachy. All in all a good read. I'll be interested to find something else by Ms Zevin and see how it compares.
Many thanks to Zeitghost Media and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the opportunity to review this book.