All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Series: Birthright #1
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Dates Read: May 29 – June 3, 2012
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.
All These Things I’ve Done is not what I would call a great literary accomplishment. The author’s writing is somewhat simplistic, but this is partially offset by the fact that it seems like Anya herself is telling her backstory. At least that’s what I assume, given the few side notes scattered throughout the story. When I think back, I feel as if there was a lack of world-building, at least in a memorable way. The society is a dystopian one, where vouchers must be obtained to get supplies and stimulant-containing chocolate and coffee are illegal. However, this is basically backgrounded — the story is about Anya and her family, seeded deep in crime.
While I wouldn’t go all out on praises for the author’s style and world-building, I will say this. Gabrielle Zevin created a fun book. This novel is a quick, enjoyable read. I found the premise interesting, the conflicts Anya had to deal with entertaining, and I enjoyed the characters of Anya and her family and friends. I’d recommend this to fans of contemporary fiction, particularly of a romantic line. At it’s heart, All The Things I’ve Done is a story about a girl — and whether she will do what she wants, or what it is her responsibility as a member of the Balanchine family to do.