Anya Balanchine, daughter of one of New Yorks most famous crime bosses, lives in a world where everything is rationed, coffee and chocolate are illegal, and crime families run a very well-organized black market. Since her fathers murder, Anya wants nothing to do with the family business, wanting only to take care of her mentally damaged older brother and younger sister.
But when Anyas ex-boyfriend is poisoned by her familys chocolate, Anya must unwillingly come to terms with her birthrightboth the good and bad points.
With a cover like that, a premise like that, and the name of one of YAs most highly awarded authors attached to it, how could one not pick this book up? With her trademark intelligent writing and world-building, Gabrielle Zevins dystopian ALL THESE THINGS IVE DONE should be a hit for those who like their YA dystopias a touch on the literary side. It doesnt quite hit the mark in terms of characterization, but I still very much enjoyed this novel, and look forward to its sequels.
Anyas New York is like the present day gone to seed and corruption. Famous landmarks have been transformed into slumming hangouts and holding areas, and prepubescent kids rob people off the street with stolen handguns. The setting is fraught with tensions of all sorts, and Zevin makes great use of it. We keenly feel Anyas struggle to juggle taking care of her family, standing her ground against her corrupt extended family, developing platonic and romantic relationships, and staying on the right side of the law. It is a testimony to the worlds potential that I couldnt put this book down, even when the plot trudged along like it had all the time in the world to tell its story.
I had the same problem with ALL THESE THINGS IVE DONE that I had with Gabrielle Zevins other books: that is, I know that Zevins writing is wonderful and mature and intelligent, but for some reason, I dont find myself connecting to the characters as much as feel like I should. For example, while Anya and Wins relationship is pleasant, it didnt, I dunno, sweep me off my feet or anything. Anyas enemies are supposed to be sinister and scary, but I didnt really find myself that indignant or protective on Anyas behalf.
But I feel like thats just a me thing, because most others I know really like Zevins writing. Either way, I enjoyed ALL THESE THINGS IVE DONE. At times it can feel like a really long setup to the second book, but if youre anything like me, youll be able to enjoy the stellar world-building along the way.