Tuesday 20 March 2012

A Review for All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done
Posted by Jess
Expected Published Date: March 29th, 2012
Finished Date: March 18th, 2012

Source: For Review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368

The Blurb from Goodreads: Sixteen year-old Anya becomes the head of a mafia family after her parents are both murdered by rival gangs. Although Anya is embroiled in the criminal world, she is determined to keep her brother and sister out of the Mafia family, but her father's relatives aren't so keen to let them go. When Anya's violent ex-boyfriend is poisoned with contaminated chocolate – chocolate that is produced illegally by Anya's Mafia family – she is arrested for attempted murder and sent to the notorious jail on Manhattan Island.

Eventually she is freed by the new D.A. in town, who believs she has been framed. But this D.A. is the father of Win, a boy at school to whom Anya feels irresistibly drawn, and her freedom comes with conditions. Win's father wants to be mayor, and he can't risk having his ambition jeopardised by rumours spreading that his son is seeing a member of a notorious crime family. Anya knows she risks the safety of her family by seeing Win again, but the feeling between them may be too strong to resist...

The Review: I still don't know how I feel about this book. I have such mixed feelings. I was really excited to read this. I loved the idea and the concept of the story. I'm still not entirely sure as to why chocolate was made illegal in the book, and you don't really find out. That's one of the things that bugged me a little about this book; although its dystopian (I love dystopian), there wasn't any real background or world building as to why New York has become the way it has, why chocolate and coffee suddenly became illegal. We never really find out why, and when writing a Dystopian one of the things that a novel like this must consist of is...reason. It's the 'Whys' that create the world and there wasn't any of that in this book.
To start with, I was fascinated and pretty into it. It wasn't until half way through the book when Anya and Win's relationship developed that it took over, and overshadowed everything else. To me it felt like everything happened too quickly. There was no build up in their romance, their first kiss was not passionate or made you swoon. There isn't anything remotely swoony about Win, he lacked a lot of the stuff a leading male should have. Anya at first was great, she took care of her own, and again it was at the half way point that I just found her to be a little naive and suddenly making this boy the centre of her world when there were other more important things happening. The whole story just seemed a little overshadowed by her feelings for Win. That's how I felt anyway. I couldn't really grasp Anya's 'Good Catholic school girl' thing, when she's constantly 'committing sins' it seem if you're part of a Mafia family...I wouldn't try to be a 'Good Catholic School Girl' it doesn't really work. In and out of confession all the time? Not the best thing.
There isn't a doubt that Zevin is a good writer, the general narrative is good and it does suck you in straight away, but with the lack of world building and a romance overshadowing the rest of the novel it's a little hard to keep your interest going. And that's what happened with me. By the half way mark I'd lost interest. And that's not good. I can't really put a finger on what was the cause. It was probably all the reasons mentioned above. It just felt like there wasn't enough, every scene that could have had a major turning point was over in about a page and half. There were so many scenes in this book that could have had more, but they were just over. It just overly felt rushed to me.
Why the 3 stars? It comes down to the ending of this book. All the action seemed to have happened in the last 50 pages or so, with people shooting, the helping of getting someone out of the country, mistaken identity,  the culprit of the chocolate contamination being revealed. It all happened towards the end, and although this book doesn't end on a cliffhanger, it also doesn't make me want to rush for the next book. 
Generally All These Things I've Done could have been brilliant, with the Dystopian, with the Mafia, with potential hits, arrests, reform of young persons, but to me it just lacked. It's a shame because a lot of people enjoyed this, and it's not that it wasn't good, it just could have been better.
By all means, read this, and make up your own mind, don't let me review influence your decision. It's worth a read, but it just...lacks in parts. Will I read the second one? Yes, because I want to see how it ends, but I'm not going to rush for it.


T said...

I've heard a lot of mixed things on this one, though I probably will give it a go anyway.

It's a shame if it is a bit average, because as you've said, the storyline has good potential.

Thanks for the review!

Erin W. said...

Nice review! I really enjoyed this book but I do understand your concern with the ending . . . it wasn't a cliffhanger like I expected.

Carina said...

It's not the first time that I've heard this criticism about the world-building and characters, so I'm really starting to want to read it less and less. Thanks a lot for your honesty, hun!


Sam (Realm of Fiction) said...

Thanks for the helpful review. I should be reading this in two books time and I'll be sure not to set my expectations too high. :) I do like the sound of this but it's a shame you thought the world-building was lacking.

Carly said...

Great review, I have this one for review too. I hate it when things are rushed in the last sections of a book. -Carly :)

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

Great review, the blurb makes it sound interesting, but it would bug me not having any world building (especially for something like coffee and chocolate being illegal). I'm glad to hear you still enjoyed it a little despite the issues you mention here. I don't like the idea that the lead male character is lacking of swoon (I need that with my lead male character). Thanks for the honest review!

Kate @ Kates Book Life said...

Great review and exactly how am feeling about it as I am reading it at the minute.

~Sara @ Just Another Story said...

I have been thinking about reading this one for a while, but I really dislike when a story lack world building. Especially in dystopian novels. Thanks for the review.

Tyler-Rose Neath said...

I really enjoyed this book... Is it wrong for me to disagree with a lot of the points? For example, I did feel like there was a lack of reasons, but I really don't think it's necessary? I liked being able to read the book and try and figure out why it all happened.... Nevertheless, great reviews and it was great to hear your thoughts!

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