ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE by Gabrielle Zevin

Posted 25 August, 2011 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 9 Comments

YA Dystopia (Though I don’t think it’s truly a dystopian because this wasn’t ever a “perfect” or perfectly conceived society, merely the degrading of our present society, giving way to scarce resources and the rise of crime and crime families.)
368 pages
Available Sept. 6, 2011
Review copy provided by 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 accidentally 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. 
Positive: The family: Anya, her siblings, and her Nana. They’re a tight-knit family unit that holds together and supports each other despite murders, terrible accidents, lingering sickness, and mafia connections that do more harm than good. There’s an awful lot going on with this family and forces moving against them but still they hold strong.
Positive: The Family. I love the mafia element in this book and wish there was more of the Family! Not that they were good people but the mafia and Anya’s Family connections really lend to the overall atmosphere of the story’s setting and are crucial to the conflicts.

Positive: Anya. She’s such an incredibly strong character who, despite that strength, has some weaknesses. She does her best to hold her nuclear family together though she’s forced to make some difficult choices to do so. Because she’s been pretty much the whole family’s caregiver and leader since she was nine, she’s so much more mature than her physical age.

Wish: Stop speaking directly to the reader. While it works for Charles Dickens, dear Reader, it merely serves to pull me completely out of the story. (That and the asides. I know I do that here but it gets annoying in the novel. Show, don’t tell, please.) I’m sure some like it but it just distracted me.

Wish: More explanations about Anya’s world. Why was chocolate banned in the US but legal in other countries? Why did they have to go to a local speakeasy to drink coffee or anything with caffeine but anyone/any age could drink alcohol? Why was paper in short supply? What happened to everyone using cell phones and computers? Why were the flowers such a big deal? What happened to the Statue of Liberty? What happened that the US fell into such disrepair? While I like the world I was plunged into, I still want to know the answers to all those questions.

Overall: Despite my two wishes, I ended up really enjoying this book and Anya. GoodReads lists this as Birthright #1, so I’m assuming we’ll be reading more of Anya, her Family, and her star-crossed love, Will, in the future.

Available from Amazon | IndieBound

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9 Responses to “ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE by Gabrielle Zevin”

  1. This one looks really interesting! I wonder why so many parts about the world were left out, was it on purpose or just because? And the statue of liberty being gone!! That sounds awful. The Family sounds great!

    Thanks for the review!

  2. I like the premise of this one, though it’s a shame not everything is explained. The Family definitely sound awesome though, I’d love to read about them! Glad you enjoyed this overall – great review :).

  3. I just reviewed this myself. It was good I enjoyed it but it wasn’t the greatest read of all young adult books out there. Mostly I found it to be extremely unrealistic and that did it in for me.

  4. I can’t even think of the last book I read where I was spoken too directly as a reader, I think that would pull me out of the story in a kind of jarring way. I really like the premise of this one though, except for the no chocolate thing – I might die without chocolate:)

  5. Aww, it sounds like it lacked a bit of world-building.
    I don’t know how I would feel about the directly-talking-to the reader thing, with me it can go either way (I love or I hate).

    Still, I’m very excited to read this book, 🙂 I got it on my to buy list.

    And I loved your review

  6. Glad you enjoyed this one, Mary. I see where you’re coming from regarding the world facts. Its hard to get a full picture when you don’t know the details. Thanks for the review!

  7. UGH I hate it when they speak directly to the reader. That really throws me off and annoys me. =( But the overall story sounds fascinating so I will definitely give this one a try, since I already have it. =)