Bel Reviews: Gabrielle Zevin's - "All These Things I've Done"

I barely brushed over the blurb on the back of the book when I picked this one up, and the cover art of the Aussie paperback isn’t something I would call remarkable, a pretty face and the title. *shrug* But I’d heard good things and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  Boy was I surprised.

“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.”

The concepts in this novel were outlandish to me; WHO BANS CHOCOLATE?! I had at least 2 chocolate bars in commiseration for Anya and the rest of the people in this reality. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.) In our current reality where binge drinking and premixed concoctions are killing people, the thought that minors could consume alcohol legally, but a mars bar was forbidden just blew my mind.

I don’t think you can really class this book as post-apocalyptic, because the world hasn’t technically been taken over by war, or famine, but with no chocolate it completely fits into the dystopian category. SERIOUSLY, WHO BANS CHOCOLATE?!

Everything old is new again in this modern Manhattan and New York City back drop. Vintage clothes are common, because making new clothes takes water, and there’s not a whole lot of water left. Society is definitely divided by class, and it seems almost circa 1920’s in the concepts of organized crime.

Gabrielle is a champion at giving her leading females a substantial dose of chutzpa (self-confidence) and her guys hold their own. Even the weakest character earns your respect with his ability to bend the rules, and yet he sits on the periphery like a bank of clouds. One false move and he’ll be a storm I don’t think even the Balanchines could weather.

The second book Because it’s my Blood should be on our shelves now; if not, it won’t be too far into the future.  I must admit I haven’t been this excited to read a sequel novel in a series since Brigid Kemmerer’s Storm came out earlier this year.

I kept trying to concoct a list of comparative books to give you an idea of the writing style, but as with quite a few of the YA books this year, there really isn’t much out there like this intelligent offering by Gabrielle Zevin.

If you’ve read it and loved it, what have you read that’s along the same lines? Help a girl out here.

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