Emily May's Reviews > All These Things I've Done

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
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Mar 30, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: young-adult, arc, dystopia-utopia, 2012
Read from March 23 to 24, 2012

Let's be clear, I did a lot of skim-reading and not-reading after the 150 page marker because there was nothing much - actually, nothing at all - about this book that I can say I enjoyed. I'm not surprised after reading a lot of my friends' negative reviews, but I do admit to a little curiosity sparking in me when this arrived from the publishers claiming to be The Godfather with a dystopian twist. This is nothing at all, slightly, remotely like The Godfather beyond the mention of mafia - and I'll get to that ridiculous plot element in a minute - and it's not really much of a dystopia either, though who's surprised about that anymore?

So this is supposed to be about the mafia, mobsters, crime lords... it isn't. I wanted a terrifying boss sat behind a desk, creating fear with a single look, dealing in all kinds of horrendous underground business; I wanted shoot outs, car chases and mysteries; scandals and betrayal... what did I get? Chocolate, caffeine and a love story. I kid you not. All those big mafia thugs with their illegal activities, you know what it's really all about? Chocolate and caffeine. After reading a book like White Cat which contains a perfect mix of mafia action, family betrayals and a touch of magic, this book is so... lame. I can't think of a better word for it, it's just lame. Plus, there's an extreme lack of world-building beyond this bizarre decision to ban chocolate, caffeine and paper without a license (or something to that effect). Why would chocolate be illegal??? WHY??? You're making no sense to me!!!

This is another romance. Yep, that's right, another one of those, posing as a dystopia naturally. The love interest is nothing to write home about, but the protagonist annoyed me so much I simply refused to give this book anymore than one star. She's bitchy and horrible and I really hated being in on her thoughts when she's watching her "best friend" flirting with Win, the way she so snidely criticises the poor girl for being "obvious" and "full-on" when she is strictly a good catholic girl who cannot possibly have sex before marriage because she will go to hell. I just can't... argh. The first chapter is called "I defend my own honour" - oh please, are you joking? Yeah, sure, the guy's an asshole but "defending her honour"?? Let me just quote this for you:

"I didn't believe in sex before marriage. I was a mostly good catholic girl, and I knew exactly where the type of behaviour he was suggesting would get me: straight to hell."

If you don't want to have sex, that's just fine, but preaching shit about going to hell for it in a young adult book that's going to be read by a lot of teenage girls? And straight from our "heroine's" mouth too? Well, fuck you. This is a book crammed full of slut-shaming and a load of anti-sex bullshit. Only for girls, though. There's a lovely scene where Anya (protag.) is out at a club with her friends and sees her brother and some girls dancing. The girls, she notes, are sluts. Sluts because of that suggestive way they're dancing with her brother! But, but, but... he's bloody dancing with them too! Holy shit. And, of course, these girls are from this point onward referred to as "the slutty girls" or individually as "one of the sluts". I don't care whether this is the author's opinion or a character trait of Anya's - I DO NOT LIKE.

Even without the poor world-building, slut-shaming and my complete annoyance at the main character, this would still not have been a good book. It's just a case of Gabrielle Zevin jumping on the dystopian trend with a crappy story. I wasn't expecting to be wowed, but it's rare that a book manages to offend me so much. Ugh.
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Reading Progress

03/23/2012 page 75

Comments (showing 1-28 of 28) (28 new)

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message 1: by Jo (new)

Jo Oh wow. This book sounds.... ridiculous. :-S

Emily May It is! I don't know what Ms Zevin was thinking :/

Tatiana Your review kind of made me want to make my rating even lower.

And there are two more books to come. Who will be reading them?

I wish authors would stop jumping on various band wagons.

message 4: by Jo (new)

Jo There are rumours that "normal" is the new "paranormal" so hopefully we'll get some brilliant contemporaries coming our way.

*fingers crossed*

I don't understand why authors would want to fit in with everyone else. Everything is so generic. I know it's tempting when they see the success of dystopia books and they know it sells but if they spoke to any reader they would know that we want things that we haven't read before. Yawn.

Emily May I completely agree. If I were to write a book, I'd be trying to think of something that wasn't done very often, something new and refreshing. But it wouldn't surprise me if it were actually the publishers who push authors in the dystopian direction.

message 6: by Danielle (new) - added it

Danielle Haha, great review. I have to admit this review makes me want to read the book even more. Though I really don't want to waste my time, I'll read this later on this year or next, no rush.

message 7: by B0nnie (new)

B0nnie ah chocolate, although that's not why it's illegal in the book

Emily May Danielle wrote: "Haha, great review. I have to admit this review makes me want to read the book even more. Though I really don't want to waste my time, I'll read this later on this year or next, no rush."

Thanks :) And good luck!

message 9: by Dominika (new)

Dominika I've never heard about this book before, but that sounds disgusting ;) Sorry you had to go through this torture :P

Kayleigh {K-Books} so sad you didn't like this Emily I loved it :(

Emily May You probably just have more tolerance for dystopian romances, Kay. I'm glad you liked it, even though I couldn't :)

Kayleigh {K-Books} Yes I do. I love dystopian romances. I just read Chosen Ones (The Lost Souls, #1) by Tiffany Truitt and loved it =)

Emily May I don't mind dystopias with a touch of romance, but for me "dystopia" has always meant lots of world-building, action, maybe a little politics... I don't like it when this gets swamped by the love story. Anyway, it's clear that I'm in the minority or these books wouldn't continue to be so popular.

Kayleigh {K-Books} Yea I know what you mean. Chosen Ones was better in my opinion. You find out about the world building through letters so it's like your learning about it along with the main character

message 15: by Beth (new) - added it

Beth @Emily May - did you think that the slut-shaming was GZ's intrusion? I find that really surprising because one of her books, "Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac", is pretty much dedicated to the idea that "you don't have to marry anyone! You're young, just have fun!"

Emily May I wasn't sure why she did it but that is rather strange. If it had been a different character saying it then I would assume the author just wanted us to see that character in a negative way... but it was the heroine and you'd think GZ would want the reader on her side. I'm clueless as to why she included this if it wasn't her own beliefs :/

Jolene I agree Black does the teen mafia storyline way better.

Michelle Great review!!

Emily May Thank you, Michelle :)

Margaret Dystopian actually means, a society characterized by human suffering. In essence, a dystopian novel could be about anything as long as it has that under lining theme. Also, I think you're taking how the main protagonist thinks and feels completely out of context.

Emily May Human suffering. Exactly. That's why I think something like making chocolate and caffeine illegal is ridiculous. Talk about first world problems.

message 22: by Navessa (new) - added it

Navessa I hate this on principle.

Emily May I was just telling you in the other thread not to read this, haha!

message 24: by Navessa (new) - added it

Navessa You were so right. Great review, btw ^_^

Emily May Thanks :)

Regina THIS. I was trying to figure out how to say it...

message 27: by Yomi (new)

Yomi The author have fail to make the main protagonist believable and originality with her main character. Plus the main character view on sex is upset and stress a lot of people with her uncomfortable view on Hell because of sex outside of marriage. Plus, she should search on protective (Contraceptive) and sex education or take part in the workshop. Also have the author search on catholic belief without been stereotype on the main character. Fail on been realism.

message 28: by Yomi (new)

Yomi Am I the only who felt the main character with her Slut remark is cheap coming from her past lifestyle and slight sexism stereotype on her own gender?

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