My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 accidentally 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.
Organized crime is intriguing. You can’t possibly look at the criminal structure and not be amazed by it. Now, to be honest, the only mafia I don’t think is full of douche bags is the Italian Mafia. (I am so getting whacked for this…) But seriously, they might extort and kill every so often, but compared to gangs that kill children on street corners and destroy families, they’re really the least violent group of criminals you can find.
So when I read the back of All These Things I’ve Done when I received the arc, I was so ready for this.
Set in the future, it follows Annie, the daughter of a now slain crime boss, as she tries to carry on her life with her dependent family, her quirky friends, and eventually, her boyfriend, the son of the Assistant DA. Annie’s family is in the illegal chocolate business (yes, they made chocolate against the law…), and she pops into speakeasies every so often for a scandalous cup of coffee (also illegal). The plot balances her life as a regular teenager with the usual family difficulties, and her life as the daughter of a mob boss who’s ‘crime family’ leads her to the worst circumstances.
So let me start with the goods of this book. I really did love it, the idea was fun, and the author really worked well with it. I loved the characters, they were unique in their own way, and it was a relief to find characters that weren’t cliché, as found in most YA fiction. Even though this book had a heavy dose of romance, it was perfectly mixed with drama, action, and mystery so that the multiple plots woven worked together so that the book could appeal to all my senses. Honestly, I can’t stand books that base their entire plot on romance, because that’s not really a plot… That’s something you find in high schools that make you want to dry heave. This book had a plot, kudos to the author.
Simply put, this book was fun as heck to read. I just loved Annie and Win, I loved how honest the story-telling was, how sarcastic (in a good way) it could get, and how you couldn’t tell how emotionally driven the book was until it slapped you in the face. But the kind of slap your best friends gives you when she’s trying to tell you how awesome something is, not the kind of slap you give your arch-nemeses. It never failed to deliver, and there weren’t any lulls in the book, something I hate. I wanted to read this book, every page of it, and I didn’t find myself feeling like I could care less whether I decided to read it or not.
Things I did have issue with was the pacing; at times important scenes seemed rushed, scenes that would have been a lot more powerful if the author had taken her time with them. Also, Annie, the main character, was incredibly strong, this is what made me love her all the more, but at times her relationship with Win, her boyfriend, made her seem weak and a little desperate.
I still absolutely loved this book, and I am beyond pumped that this is a series. I can’t wait to read the next book, I’d honestly love the arc to book two as well, but that’s never going to happen. I think this is how young adult fiction is supposed to be written. It’s raw and straight-forward. It left behind the young adult fiction we all know and loathe and projected adult circumstances and themes into a piece of fiction that young people, and adults a like, should be able to enjoy without a single complaint.
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