Friday, August 26, 2011

YA Sci-Fi: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Series: Birthright #1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Date: September 6, 2011
Format: ARC
Acquired: from Holt InGroup
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book in return for an honest review)
Pages: 354
Reading time: one day

From GoodReads: 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.

My review: Cozy dystopia. All These Things I've Done is a cozy dystopia, meaning that, for the most part, it's not too suspenseful and thrilling, and everything generally turns out okay, without the protagonist being greatly scarred by anything. (Most dystopias aren't cozy, with the exception of Restoring Harmony). Another comparison to make would be with the recent release Wildefire: most of the book is spent setting up the characters, location, and situations for the rest of the series, with comparatively little time spent on actual plot. There ends up being a lot of ways the story could go, but most are let dropped (personally, I find this  rather unsatisfying). Romance is the main path of the story in All These Things, making the novel seem like more of a "contemporary" or realistic fiction book than a science fiction dystopian. 

Yet I couldn't stop reading it. Somehow Zevin keeps the story exciting, even if there's not really that much going on at times. It helped that I could just breeze through pages in a snap, but I *did* end up staying up late so I could finish the last hundred pages. Will I read the sequel? Yes. Despite my above issues with All These Things, I did enjoy reading it, and I want to see where Zevin is going to go with the rest of the series.

A little morality thing that didn't actually impact my enjoyment/review of this novel: I liked that Anya describes herself as "a good Catholic girl," mostly meaning that she's decided not to have sex before marriage. Dystopias don't usually include much religion in them, but Zevin incorporates it nicely. Anya's not dogmatic, but she tries to stick to her principles and is willing to explain them. I was just surprised when her boyfriend casually mentions that he's had sex before and Anya doesn't seem to be at all bothered or at least slightly taken back by it. And if you're wondering about content issues now, the topic of sex comes up but that's about as far as it gets.

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