Title: All These Things I’ve Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Release Date: September 6, 2011
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.
As far as dystopian novels go, this is certainly a unique book. If I’m being perfectly honest, there were a couple times where I debated even reading it at all – the cover wasn’t really engrossing, and the summary only barely caught my attention because it was so strange. However, once I started reading, it got better and better; I got emotionally invested in the story, and I grew to love all the characters, but especially Anya, Natty, and Leo. Win was cool, too.
The plot was amazing. I don’t know how Zevin managed to create such an interesting dystopia, or come up with such a creative plot for with these people and places. Everything about it was intriguing and just plain cool, from the mafia family to the 90 second showers (yeah, get that through your head) to the speakeasies. And that’s another thing – despite the futuristic setting, I imagined everything as 1920’sish, which was awesome (and yeah, I think this is another book that would make a great movie). One of the things that I think caught my attention was how normal it all seemed – at least, until Anya went to Advanced Fencing instead of gym or drank illegal coffee. The strange newness of this dystopia combined with the contrast of the familiarity of the setting – it does, after all, take place in the same century, despite its futuristic dystopia – created a sort of vacuum that sucked all my attention until the book was over and I wanted more.
So I loved this book, and everything about it. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes dystopian novels or a 20’s setting. This book will suck you in until you’re so invested with the characters and the plot that anything and everything will have an effect on you. Plus, the ending is just as unique as the rest of it, and I loved how it focused a lot on the family and less on the romance, although that was definitely present, too. I definitely think that you should pick up a copy soon!
*Note: I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 14 due to some sexual content and violence.