Series: (Birthright #1)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release Date: 1st September 2011
Source: From publisher for review (Thank you!)
Sixteen year-old Anya becomes the head of a mafia family after her parents are both murdered by rival gangs. Although Anya is embrolied 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...
It’s 2082 and NYC is completely different. Current ‘necessities’ like COFFEE and CHOCOLATE are deemed illegal and are only sold in the black market. Instead, ALCOHOL is permitted for consumption by people of all ages- no license/proof of age required. WATER is scarce and no books have been printed in decades due to the cost of paper; all paper books have been recycled into toilet tissue and money. Even sending emails require postage fees! On a personal note, has the world gone mad?! I don’t know how I could survive living in this world, under such conditions, but this is normal, everyday life for Anya Balanchine.
The world Zevin has created in truly a shocking and miserable one, yet I can’t help but be intrigued. Chocolate and coffee are like addictive drugs for many individuals in our society today, so does that mean they will be banned in the near future? While reading ATTID, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why are coffee and chocolate banned? Why is alcohol legal? Zevin unfortunately did not provide adequate answers to these questions, but I guess the lack of world-building wasn’t a huge issue to me. There were so many other interesting aspects of the book that kept me occupied so I did not dwell too much on these unanswered questions.
I was really fascinated by Zevin’s writing style. I don’t know if a certain writing style can be completely original, but that was what if felt to me. Instead of the usual first-person narration, where readers merely see everything from the main character’s POV, Anya’s manner of narration is slightly different. At times, she directly speaks to us, which I loved since it allowed me to really connect with her character. I also loved the titles of each chapter; they summarised what would happen in each chapter, but it was written in such an amusing and original way that I just had to keep reading to find out exactly what happened, why it happened and what happened after.It was one of the main things I looked forward to while reading this book!
Anya was a brilliant protagonist. She was practical and independent, although at times I thought she was too strong for her own good. Her parents died when she was young, and she was left to take care of her bed-ridden grandmother, handicapped older brother and a much younger sister. I guess having to shoulder the responsibility of her family really toughened her up, to the point that she believed she needed to do everything herself. I really respected her determination to take care of her family, but I truly thought that at times, she could’ve just allowed someone else, whether it be family or Win (her..boyfriend, and who’s incredibly awesomeJ)or her best friend Scarlet to help her out a little. I also loved how she was fiercely loyal to her family, like nothing could even tear her away from her them, even if it meant losing the guy she loved.
Overall, All These Things I’ve Done was a realistic and compelling read with a wonderful narration and fantastic characters. I can’t wait to read the second instalment in the Birthright series!
Rating: 4.5 stars!
"THE NIGHT BEFORE MY JUNIOR YEAR - I was sixteen, barely - Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me. Not in the distant or semi-distant future either. Right then.
Admittedly, my taste in boys wasn't so great. I was attracted to the sort who weren't in the habit of asking permission to do anything.