All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Series: Birthright # 1
Description: 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.
Review: I've been waiting for this book forever. I saw it on Goodreads a few months ago and fell in love. And then I got an e-mail for a review copy and giveaway, and I just about fainted. That was before I'd even read the book! This book... Okay this book is everything you want in a book. It's the perfect combination of romance, sarcasm, violence, tense-ness, family, smiley-parts, etc. I am the happiest girl in the world for being about to get this book. Okay, I'm gonna go on with the review now.
All These Things I've Done tells the story of Anya Balanchine, a 16 year old girl who lives in a time where chocolate and caffeine are prohibited. (If I'm not mistaken, they refer to it as like a second Prohibition.)Like with the Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920's (?), there is rising crime and mob families who produce and distribute chocolate. There are five major chocolate families, and they are all built on the basis of violence. Anya is thrown into their world because her father, Leo Balanchine, was the head of the Balanchine mafia and disributed his own chocolate. They were the wealthiest and most prosperous family, before Leo and his wife got murdered by an opposing family. Now it's Anya, her older brother Leo, little sister Natty, and her grandmother, Galina, dealing with the rest of the family and the spotlight brought on by her last name.
As with most dystopians, natural resources are running out, you pay 25 cents for water, etc. And also in most dystopians, they shove the dystopian-ness down your throat page after page. But not in All These Things I've Done. No, multiple times I forgot it was a dystopian. They mention it throughout the book, of course. But with little things, like Anya stating how she needs a voucher for hair spray, or about the water thing. She has normal classes, normal friends, a normal setting. The only thing that's amiss is the year, which is 2083. And FYI: the oldest person in the book, Galina, her grandmother, is younger than me! They mention that she was born in 1995. That is very troubling, okay?
The characters in this book were very thought out and real. Take for instance, Leo, Anya's brother. He was in an accident at age 8, the same accident that took his mothers life, and so he has the body of a 20 year old, but the mind and mentality of an 8 year old. Anya is constantly taking care of him, and looking out for him, and I can see why he would feel the need to freak out on her sometimes. It must be very sad and damaging to your ego when you can't even take care of your baby sister. And you see this sadness throughout the book. You can understand with Leo when he take a job at the Pool, the family headquarters. He wants to show his sisters that he can take care of himself, and even them. That he can be trusted with the men, and be stable.
And Anya. I think Anya (and this entire freaking book) is going down in my favorites list. Her resposiblity and her determination is so admirable. The love she has for her family is just phenomenal. I've very family-oriented, so to see a main character that way is understandable. She promised her father she'd take care of everyone. And one thing Anya Balanchine does is keep her promises. She's smart, and witty, and she knows how to handle her mafiya family. I seriously loved the way she could act concerned and loving one second, then cold and indifferent the next. Even though she doesn't want to be involved in the family business, I really want to see her running it. She'd be an amazing leader. (Her uncle, the current leader, even says so.)
I love crime young adult novels, and I think that's why I loved this book a lot. The scenes when she's with her mafiya cousins is really entertaining and I want to see her with her family more. And I think I would fall head over heels if Gabrielle Zevin wrote a prequel, when the father and mother was alive, and the business was thriving. Throughout the book, Anya mentions her father and little sayings he would live by, and he sounds like a very intelligent, clever man. I would have liked to hear more about her mother. The only thing we're told is that she was a forensic investigator who fell in love with her father, against her fathers wishes. (Okay I'm sorry, but isn't that, like, totally romantic? I have to stop watching Oceans Eleven.)
Speaking of Gabrielle Zevin, I would just like to thank you for writing such a beautiful, and amazing book. I felt like these characters were my best friends and now I'm very sad to see them leave. (Can someone please write fan fiction?)I loved that her and her family were Russian, and this is going to sound so loserish, but when her grandmother spoke Russian words, I would use an accent, and it was beautiful. And the little notes that Anya wrote in the book? They were an excellent touch to the book.
Overall, this book is definitely something you want to pick up. It is such an amazing read and it will leave you with goosebumps. I know the ending gave me them, anyway!
“You can’t avoid orphan stories, child. Every story is an orphan story. Life is an orphan story. We are all orphaned sooner or later.”-All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin