Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: March 29th 2012.
Paperback, 352 pages.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Jen
Sixteen year-old Anya becomes the head of a mafia family after her parents are both murdered by rival gangs. Although Anya is embrolied in the criminal world, she is determined to keep her brother and sister out of the mafia family, but her father's relatives aren't so keen to let them go. When Anya's violent ex-boyfriend is poisoned with contaminated chocolate – chocolate that is produced illegally by Anya's mafia family – she is arrested for attempted murder and sent to the notorious jail on Manhattan Island.
Eventually she is freed by the new D.A. in town, who believes she has been framed. But this D.A. is the father of Win, a boy at school to whom Anya feels irresistibly drawn, and her freedom comes with conditions. Win's father wants to be mayor, and he can't risk having his ambition jeopardised by rumours spreading that his son is seeing a member of a notorious crime family. Anya knows she risks the safety of her family by seeing Win again, but the feeling between them may be too strong to resist...
Anya Balanchine, the main character of Gabrielle Zevin’s All These Things I’ve Done, is by far my favorite character of 2012. Not only is she smart and sassy, but she knows how to handle a gun as well. Anya is not a girl you would want to end up on the wrong side of in a fight. She is everything I love in a female protagonist! Anya was not the only reason why Zevin’s new Birthright series is at the top of my “to read” list. The entire book was a page-turner that kept me wanting more! One of the problems with reading advanced copies is that you need to wait all that much longer before the next installment comes out. This is going to be a long wait!
All These Things I’ve Done takes place in the year 2083 in New York City. While the basic tenets of society are still intact, keeping the story from being truly dystopian, things in New York are not going well. The once glorious city is broke, all forms of culture have disappeared, water is scarce, and chocolate is illegal. Anya’s father became the Al Capone of chocolate, but like many gangsters, his life ended violently leaving Anya and her siblings in the care of their grandmother. As the book begins the only thing keeping grandma alive are the machines that pump air into her lungs. It is actually Anya who is taking care of the family, trying desperately to keep Child Protective Services away. As if things aren’t complicated enough Anya has the unfortunate luck of falling in love with the son of the new District Attorney; a man who has vowed to destroy Anya’s family if she doesn’t stay away from his son. Then there is the little problem of Anya’s ex-boyfriend, who she is accused of trying to kill with poisoned chocolate. As much as Anya tries to distance herself from the family business she just keeps getting sucked right back in. Being the heir apparent of a major crime syndicate is not an easy destiny to walk away from.
I loved all of the characters in this book. The bad guys were despicable and smarmy and the good guys were genuine and extremely likable. The only complaint I have is that I would have liked to have seen a more in depth progression of Anya’s relationship with Win. It seemed to move along at a break-neck speed when the characters never really spent that much time together. I am not a big fan of romance, but in this case I wanted more!
Gabrielle Zevin makes numerous bold choices in the plot of All These Things I’ve Done that keeps the action moving along and the tension cranked high. There are so many different aspects to this book I think that it will offer something for every type of reader. I added my copy to my classroom library last week and I didn’t even get a chance to put it on the shelf before it was checked out and the waiting list is a mile long!