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Sunday, June 29, 2014

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

At first, I wasn't sure if I should published this review on the blog because it's not at all supernatural, but I enjoyed it so much that I had to share my thoughts about it with as many people as possible. It is however set in the future, and could be qualified as a dystopian novel. While not completly dystopian, it does have some elements like being set in the future and citizens of the USA are very restricted in their every day life. Set in 2083, imagine a world where caffeine and chocolate are illegal substances (although alcohol is not at all monitored, even young adults can drink), and natural resources are so limited that everything is rationed, including, but not limited to water, paper, and even paper towels! Personally, I don't think I could live without my morning coffee and my evening tea. I don't think a government banning caffeine is at all realistic (imagine the Starbucks led riots!), but I think it's the symbolism behind it that makes you think. Whether it be caffeine or alcohol, banning or restricting things only leads revolts and angry citizens. Contraband also means the creation of new black markets demand and mafias that push the product.

Anya Balanchine (or Annie to some friends) is caught up in a family mafia because she was born into it. Before her father passed away, he was the owner of a chocolate empire, called Balanchine Chocolates, which continues to produce the illegal substance, even after it was banned. Anya couldn't care less about the chocolate. Orphaned at nine years old, now in her junior year of high school, all she cares about is passing her classes and taking care of her older, but simple brother, and younger sister. But being born a Balanchine makes things complicated because everyone knows she's the daughter of the infamous dead mob boss. Things couldn't get any worse when she's suspected of poisoning her ex-boyfriend (with contraband chocolate, no less!), and sent to a horrible underage detention center.

The novel might center around chocolate and the danger it poses for Anya and her siblings, but I think the real message behind the novel is growing up despite how difficult it might be, and taking care of those you love and care for. Anya's enemies (or those who fight against what she stands for) might be numerous, but the few friends she has are worth keeping. Trouble tends to follow Anya around and she needs as many friends as possible to bail her out, or simply to support her. One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed is the presences of Anya's father. Although he was murdered when she was young, his wisdom lives on and Anya remembers the wise words he told her when she was younger t,o guide her in her difficult decisions.

Overall, this is definitely not the book I was expecting but it was surprisingly really good. It might be more suitable for mature young adults because of some of the more harsher subjects (we are dealing with mafia!) but the scenes are not all that graphic. The writing is very easy to read, and although I'm not crazy about narrators that uses the "you" in the narration, I was able to get passed that because the story was so engaging. The author has a lot to say in this novel but she finds a way to say as much as possible without getting too much into the descriptive details. Anya's story is a heartfelt one because of her selflessness, her caring nature, and all the difficult things she had to go through during her junior year. Although this book doesn't necessarily finish with a happily ever after, as a reader you're hopeful she'll find a way to pull through. A completely original take on dystopia, fans of the Delirum and Whither series will enjoy ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE.

Read an excerpt


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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11 People left their mark' :

  1. Well Stephenie, this looks like a good book. I love the idea that chocolate and coffee are banned. I wonder what that would cause if these things get banned nowadays.
    GREAT review
    Your reader,

  2. Chocolate and coffee is illegal?! WHAAAAAAT. It sounds like an interesting read and now I've got All These Things That I've Done by The Killers stuck in my head, not that it's a bad thing.

  3. I remember before I read this book I thought it sounded really bizarre, and I didn't expect to like it. But I ended up LOVING it, just as you seemed to. I definitely need to get back to this series.

  4. Let me tell you I LOVE this book, this series! So glad to see someone else really enjoyed it.

  5. Stéphanie @ Tynga's Reviews29 June 2014 at 10:06

    Coffee addicts such as myself would definitely revolt agains the powers that be. I would like to see them try! Lol

  6. Stéphanie @ Tynga's Reviews29 June 2014 at 10:10

    To be honest, I've never heard the song. I hope it doesn't stay too long in your head!

  7. Stéphanie @ Tynga's Reviews29 June 2014 at 10:12

    I love it when the blurb doesn't reveal too much about the story and you end up with a nice surprise. I hope to read the next two books of the series soon.

  8. I'm pretty sure we're not the only ones that love it because it's a pretty good book. Did you read the other two books yet?

  9. I love this series and although it is set in the future I think of it more as a suspense or mob type book. I hope you read and enjoy the other ones in the series, they only get more intense!

  10. Sounds like a very intriguing book, I don't know what I would do without chocolate or caffeine. I am definitely interested to see how Annie deals with everything while trying to take care of her family. Great review.

  11. I have read the whole series, and pretty much loved it!