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“A decent read for the bus ride”: The latest ARC review!

Posted on October 11th, 2011 by Becky.
Categories: All posts, Beta Books, Books, Events.

Calling all readers! Our next Teen ARC Club meeting is Friday, October 14, 4-5 pm! All the details are here (and you can also find them under Pages on the right of this blog), and we’ve got some awesome book reviews in the comments of that post. The latest is from Erin, and I posted it here as well:

Reviewer: Erin

Book: All These Things I’ve Done

Author of book: Gabrielle Zevin

What did you think of the cover?

The cover is extremely bland: the only artwork is a melting chocolate heart (which, while delicious in my imagination, is rather disappointing considering this is merely a paperback book). Since it’s not something I would usually pick up, I think it could use some work.

What did you think of the book?

(WARNING: LONG post ahead – Sorry! I’m working on it…)

I have this adoration for books that have that “history repeats itself” persona—and that’s the basis of Gabrielle Zevin’s new novel, all these things i’ve done: in %2083, Prohibition has plagued Americans once again, only now it’s chocolate that has been taken off the market (horrifying, right?). Anya Balanchine is the daughter of the long-dead crime boss that was behind the illegal chocolate supply stateside, but is more concerned with her family than her ties to the industry; she dutifully cares for her ailing grandmother, younger sister, and mentally handicapped brother in place of her own happiness. All of this, along with her relationship with a malicious ex-boyfriend, consumes Anya’s time.

Then, when life couldn’t get any more difficult, a new student enters Anya’s school: Win Delacroix, a kind farmhand everyone is immediately enamored with. He quickly grows fond of Anya and, though she would never admit it, she might just like him too. But the chocolate supply the Balanchines direct has recently been tainted, and Anya is at risk to be framed. It probably doesn’t help that Win is the son of one of the nation’s most recognized lawyers…

all these things i’ve done has a bit of action, some mystery, and a lot of romance. Although forbidden romance stories are getting stale, I was intrigued by this one: after all, it involved the mob, so what’s not to like? Well…perhaps a lot, depending on your tastes: the relationship between Win and Anya got rather old quickly. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it seemed as though there was a conflict that never truly existed because our two lovebirds were immune to it. We’re often told that these two can’t be together, but we never really see it. Their relationship is overall very convenient and overly-sentimental—there are those who love these fantastical relationships, I know, but I’m not one of them. I felt it lacked substance, though I know others may argue that it was simply poetic.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the novel; there’s still a lot to praise, though the romance is the core. The characters, mostly, were interesting: Anya is a very fierce and conflicted character when her narrative isn’t about gumdrop romance. Her family, too, was intriguing, particularly her handicapped brother Leo (who is anything but dumb). Most of the characters interact well with their imaginative environment, which I’ll address later. Most, I feel, except for Win. He’s like every clichéd romantic interest rolled into one blob of insufferable kindness. Let me put it in a way many fans of young adult fiction would understand: Win is highly reminiscent of Peeta from The Hunger Games (similarly, Anya reminded me a lot of Katniss). If you liked these two, you’ll probably like Anya and Win. If not, they could grate your nerves, but not enough to ruin your experience.

The novel excels at family drama. Anya’s determination to protect her family was very noble in my eyes, and I really enjoyed this theme. Her situation is made that much more powerful due to the fantastic setting: Zevin crafts a believable future world that is only slightly better than a total dystopia. A small but creative aspect I noticed, for example, is the practice of needing to buy virtual postage to send e-mails. The little details illustrate well how rotten the world has become. Even better, the novel visits what I assume is Ellis Island as a maximum security prison. Overall, these two factors—family life and a dying New York City—were easily my favorite elements.

The action of this novel revolves around the Balanchine crime syndicate and Anya being framed for the contamination, among other things: this plot was entertaining, though not flawless. A lot of this conflict is either ignored in favor of developing the romance or simply rushed through. Because it this, the ending is anticlimactic, though upon reflection I find that it was a sensible conclusion.

all these things i’ve done claims to be the first in a series, but I don’t quite see where the story can go from here. Would I read more if it did continue? Most likely, yes. This is a great book featuring a wonderfully headstrong lead in a extremely inventive environment. Unfortunately, it’s bogged down by a needlessly rushed plot and annoying male lead. So it falls somewhere in the middle of the road—a three out of five, because I was definitely interested to see how it ended. A decent read for the bus ride, mostly for those who appreciate dystopian futures, great heroines, sappy romance, or all three!

How would you rate this book?

3 stars – pretty good. I wanted to see how it ended.

1 comment.

Tamara

Comment on October 12th, 2011.

“He’s like every clichéd romantic interest rolled into one blob of insufferable kindness.” <3

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