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 you may have noticed, I can be a pretty tough critic when it comes to YA literature. It's because YA authors are exploring some really creative premises and topics - thus, making it possible for some mind-blowing books. Anyways, I'm prefacing my thoughts on this book with this disclaimer because, compared to other bloggers, I wasn't as impressed with this book. Despite this, check out the links to other (more positive) reviews at the bottom of this post...because you may disagree with me :)
My favorite part of the book? Easily it's the interesting dystopian premise (chocolate and coffee are illegal?!). I also loved Anya's family and friends (Natty, Leo, Scarlet and Win). My least favorite part of the book? The ending...talk about abrupt! I know it is a part of a planned series but I was still unhappy with the ending.
But really, the main difficulty I had with this book is that I didn't like Anya. I wanted to like her. She is a tough female protagonist (I prefer those to the damsel-in-distress types) but she could also be so obtuse despite constantly being called smart and objective. Also, the whole star-crossed lovers aspect gets played out a lot in YA books. Sometimes it works (like in Starcrossed) and sometimes it doesn't...and it just didn't work for me in this book. The series as a whole has potential, but I felt that All These Things I've Done as a standalone was a bit of a let down.
Main takeaway: I was disappointed...maybe there was too much buzz or maybe it was my own expectations but this book didn't deliver for me (however, most of the blogosphere disagrees with me - see here and here). Despite all of my grumbling, it wasn't awful by any means. I did like it...I just didn't love it.