Rating: 4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Dystopian and mystery readers
High point: Anya's loving family and friends
Low point: The culprit behind the poisoned chocolate was predictable
Reader maturity: 13+
The summary on the inside cover of All These Things I've Done gave me pause--a Mafiya daughter, a dystopian, a romance...Could all these things work together in a way that would actually work? (Short answer: Yes.)
What makes All These Things I've Done stand apart from other dystopian or crime family novels is the focus on friends and family. Anya has a fantastic support system. She is, if not in name then in fact, the head of her family, and she does a stellar job of taking care of them and keeping them together. She shoulders much more of a burden than should be hers, but she did it in a realistic way. Sometimes in stories like these, the character is too adult or too childlike, but she's the perfect mix of adult responsibility mixed with teenage passion.
Something else that sets this novel apart is Anya's tendency to talk to the reader, a technique that I've always enjoyed. It reminds me of the old-timey books I read when I was younger, when authors tended to tell their stories as if to a present audience rather than some unseen public. Anya explains a lot of her actions and thoughts to the reader too, and I'm glad she does. Otherwise, her actions might appear out of character when they are actually rational moves on her part. The introspection this provides also allows greater insight into Anya's personality. Without it, she would seem too put-together.
When writing this review, I discovered that this is the first in a series, and I'm quite excited about that. As I finished the last page of the book, I wondered if (and hoped) there would be more in store for Anya and the remains of her family.
Title: All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Fiction - Dystopian
Book Source: Won from Valerie Kemp