Tuesday, March 27, 2012
A Review of 'All These Things I've Done' by Gabrielle Zevin
Chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is increasingly scarce, 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-- going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant DA's son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until someone in her inner circle ends up 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 important, within her mafiya 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 was really excited to read this because I'm such a big fan of Gabrielle Zevin and her writing.
I loved Scarlet and Win-- they were the most loyal characters in the book, willing to risk life and limb for Anya and her family. Nana was also an enjoyable character, even though it was physically impossible for her to get up and do something for her grandkids. As as much as I liked these characters, I think my absolute favorite character was Leo. Because of a car accident he was in earlier (not in this book), Leo suffered brain damage and now he has a harder time grasping conceptualizing the world. But compared with the other characters, I think he was more three-dimensional than anya, Gable, or any of the other characters I mentioned above.
There were a lot of subplots in this book. There was the murder of the Balanchine crime boss (Leo Sr.), the staggering Balanchine chocolate empire, the crumbling world around them, and the relationships Anya has with the other characters. At times, it felt like there were too many things going on and other times, one of more subplots felt too underdeveloped. To put it generally, Anya would try and do something but the way that thing was done or the problem was resolved was anticlimactic. It happens, I guess.
I like the concept of the story-- Crime family attempts to stay in control of a niche in the black market. Essentially, a mafia family. It's a really neat idea. Unfortunately, I felt that this book fell short of its potential. Don't get my wrong, it's still an engaging and interesting read, but compared to 'Elsewhere,' it wasn't as good.
I give 'All These Things I've Done':