Cait (Paper Fury)'s Reviews > All These Things I've Done

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
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's review
Jul 30, 2013

liked it
bookshelves: dystopian, young-adult

I didn’t know much about this book before I started reading it. Just the basics. Dystopian world. Protagonist is a girl. Something about attempted murder. And chocolate and coffee are illegal (come on, that’s enough to make anyone pick up the book). It promised to be good. What I didn’t know? It’s a romance. Probably the most intense romance I’ve read. (Yeah, I know, the word “love” is plastered all over the back cover; but in my defence I didn’t get to see the back-cover until I picked it up from the library. And, just a quick note on the backcover...the blurb actually has very little to do with the book. I don't know why they wrote it like that. Completely obsolete.)

In terms of a story, All These Things I’ve Done is a great read. The dystopian world setting is a little more unique then others I’ve read. Anya (our protagonist) is the daughter of the dead leader of the crime underworld. Her family is runs an illegal chocolate business. The city is in ruins. Water is rationed and precious. And then there’s the high school. That, I have to say, doesn’t change much in 2090 (or thereabouts; I'm not 100 percent on the dating of the book).

In terms of plot, it’s a bit erratic. I felt a lot of holes and jolting bumps as I went through, and it left me frowning quite a lot. At one point, Anya is sent to “Liberty” (which is a kids correction facility actually built into the Statue of Liberty; cool!) and I felt her whole time there was totally irrelevant. The way she acted in there, the way she was treated, why she ended up there—I wasn’t impressed. The story, so flowing and meaningful till there, took a jolting turn and made a mash of her internment. When Anya left Liberty, the story line went back to being flawless. What’s with that?

And the characters? Brilliant! Full marks for creating realistic, relatable, and unique characters. Our protagonist actually has backbone (utterly astounding!). She’s tough and has an fiery temper, but the author shows the readers her weakness and her loves. Seeing Anya’s soft side doesn’t make us think she’s soft and goopy. It makes us love her. Anya has strong protective instincts. She loves her family and she’ll do absolutely anything to keep them safe and together. She’s really worried about Heaven and Hell and keeps up her Catholic rituals to try and avoid getting there. I loved that slant on the story. Usually God is void in these kinds of stories. And even if the way Anya is going about getting to heaven isn't quite right, she’s still conscious of it—and of keeping her purity; and praying; and trying to keep out of trouble.

And Anya’s best friend…oh yes! I'm not usually impressed with the “best friends” of our amazing protagonists, but Scarlet was good. She wasn’t a flimsy one-dimensional character either. And the love interest, Win? Well, let’s just say he was perfect. A little too perfect I think. His only flaw was falling in love with the girl his father said not to and not taking the hint when Anya told him to take a hike and listen to his dad. I don’t like perfect characters. But…though Win could have had more guts, he didn’t come across as a floppy, goody-goody that you want to shove out a window. His character is firm, just too good to be true. Anya’s family are also portrayed well and written with a unique slant. But I found it hard to relate to her older brother. He has a slight mental disability after a car accident that killed their mother—but as a reader, I didn’t pick that up at all. The only different thing about him is he cries more than a boy of 19 usually does. But otherwise, his disability is basically invisible to the reader. I wonder if the author wanted it that way.

The romance is quite prominent in this book. Not like in other styles I’ve read (like The Hunger Games or Incarceron, where the love-interest is there, but not the point of the story). There are sexual references, particularly in the first chapter. But, I have to say, the author remains well above board here. The book isn’t tainted with lustful descriptions or sex scenes, and kissing is the height of the contact. Phew. Anya is quite forward about wanting to remain pure until she’s married, and I think “Good for her!” It’s not often a book will so plainly underline that belief.

The book carries serious consideration on family values as well. The love Anya has toward her family is unbelievable! She’s dedicated to them. They always come first—and even the boy she loves comes second.

Beside the plot glitches, I didn’t mind the book. It will never rate as a favourite, but that’s mainly due to the plot problems (and not me being biased because it's a romance. Well...not quite). Having good characters is number one on my list—but a good plot is up there too. I really liked the twist with chocolate and coffee being illegal—and how that made them so highly sort after. On the other hand, alcohol, which was in boring abundance, wasn’t a problem for anyone. And that was one of the thoughts running through the book. If something’s illegal or restricted, does that make people want it more?
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Reading Progress

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Vickie (new)

Vickie Wilson I'm about a quarter into this book and hating it. I think I may dnf this one but I don't know if I'll regret it.. :/

Cait (Paper Fury) I kind of have fond thoughts of this book...but if I reread it? Eh, I don't know what Ii'd rate it! This was like soooo long ago. (I read it longer ago than the date I added it on Goodreads.)

message 3: by Vickie (new)

Vickie Wilson Cait D wrote: "I kind of have fond thoughts of this book...but if I reread it? Eh, I don't know what Ii'd rate it! This was like soooo long ago. (I read it longer ago than the date I added it on Goodreads.)"

I dnf'd it in the end - but I've added it back to my shelf so I might read it again later!

message 4: by Cat (new) - added it

Cat Bradford She wants to be pure when she's married? COUNT ME IN!

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