Saturday, December 3, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Yes, I've officially completed my required 52 books, but I'm still going. The year isn't over yet, and I've got so, so many more books to read.

All These Things I've Done was rare in that it is a dystopian book, but there aren't any monsters or supernatural elements. It's a rather depressing view of the future. People born in the 1990s are elderly, and young people don't even know what antiquated terms like "OMG" mean. Natural resources are so depleted that water is strictly rationed, and clothing and books aren't produced anymore. Chocolate is an illegal substance, and just like during the Prohibition, when a substance becomes illegal, an environment of crime grows around it.

The Balanchines are a mafiya family dealing with the distribution of chocolate. Anya saw how the family business led to her parents' deaths and to her brother, Leo, becoming mentally disabled. She has a lot of responsibilities in taking care of her brother and sister, plus their dying grandmother. Anya's life gets more complicated when she starts a relationship with the new boy at school, Win. His father is the new assistant district attorney, and she is the daughter of a mafiya king. Win's father isn't exactly thrilled at his son's choice in girlfriend.

Everything really starts to go bad when someone is poisoned by chocolate. Anya appears to be the prime suspect. The plot gets cleared away very quickly, but it makes Anya have to face difficult issues. After witnessing so much violence (She was in the same room when her father was shot), it's understandable to want to stay as far away from the chocolate business as possible. Throughout the book, she still has the stigma of the last name Balanchine. No matter what, she can't change who she is, and the big conflict comes from whether she should embrace that or deny it.

As stated before, I enjoyed the slightly more realistic dystopian world of All These Things I've Done. I really started to relate to it because of the character of Leo. My brother is also slightly mentally handicapped, so I can sympathize with Anya there. Anya was a great character, one I wished could catch a break in all the bad stuff happening to her. I super loved the Anya/Win relationship. The ending bummed me out a little, but it leaves a lot of promise for the next book in the series.

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