Friday, December 16, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

 We're running out of time before our top tens start running, but Katie has one more review to sneak in!

All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

The year is 2083 and caffeinated substances (e.g., chocolate, coffee) are illegal. It is a new era of prohibition and self-denial. As with the original Prohibition, such limitations lead to an influx in illegal activities and powerful mafia families making their mark. Anya is a member of one such family, but she wants nothing to do with the family business. She has already lost her mother and father to their livelihood, and she’s not going to put either of her siblings in harm’s way. She simply wants to fly under the radar and maybe go to college someday. But the likelihood of her achieving this goal begins to dwindle when her ex-boyfriend is poisoned by chocolate and intrigue begins to swirl all around her...

First things first. Someone should tell you that All These Things I’ve Done is the first book in a... wait for it... dystopian trilogy. Shock! That I thought this might be a stand alone work should be chalked up to my own naivete.

Once you know this critical fact, I think All These Things I’ve Done is a much easier book to enjoy. I spent much of the book waiting for that one major climatic moment where the suspense breaks and all is revealed. That never comes in Book 1. Zevin instead spends her time constructing a very real future world, complex family and friend dynamics, a forbidden romance, and plot twist after plot twist. Setting her dystopian world in a not-so-distant time plagued by the scarcity of such resources such as water and paper, Zevin has created an incredibly believable dystopian future that will give the reader a lot to think about.

But in the end it is the compelling character of Anya that truly carries this story and moves this series to an elite group of Must Read As Soon As They Come Out Sequels for me. Publisher’s Weekly describes Anya as a “reluctant Godfather-in-the-making” which is brilliant in its apt succinctness. As Anya navigates the tangled webs of family, friendships, relationships, and actual politics, her talent as a leader is undeniable and her rise to power is truly compelling even in its earliest stages. I have no doubt Zevin has much more in store for us in books 2 and 3 of the Birthright Trilogy. 

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