Anya Balachine has had a tough life growing up in crime-ridden New York City. The year is 2083, and the prohibition on chocolate and caffeine, along with rations on water, food, and paper, has made her Russian Mafiya family very influential in the city. But since both of Anya's parents are dead due to their Mob ties, Anya want nothing to do with the family business of selling black market chocolate. This is especially important when she becomes friends (and maybe something more) with Win, the son of the Assistant District Attorney and later when she is accused of poisoning her family's chocolate supply. Can Anya ever separate herself from her background, or is she destined to lead the Balachine regime like her father?
I really liked All These Thing I've Done. The novel was set in the future, but it wasn't quite a dystopian because it was very similar to today. In that sense, it definitely made the story more relatable.
Even though All These Things I've Done is set seventy years in the future, there weren't really any new technologies. It was kinda like time just stood still in that regard. The only difference between our world and this world is that there are a lot of rations and caffeine and chocolate are contraband. I was disappointed that All These Things I've Done did not explain why and how these things became illegal. And even though it was supposedly really hard to get certain items, like clothing and fruit, Anya and her friends had no trouble getting anything, which made the whole issue seem a little pointless.
I loved the fact that New York City is overrun by organized crime and corruptness (for the story, that is, not in real life). It reminded me a lot of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight because you have the DA who's trying to fix everything but it's not really working. It was very Al Capone-esque, which is pretty awesome. My favorite parts of the book was when Anya interacts with her crime family, in which her late father was the head of. Instead of alcohol, however, the family deals in black market chocolate. The front of the hardcover even looks like a chocolate bar with all the ridges, it's pretty cool.
Anya was a strong and capable heroine with a strict moral code. She would do anything to help her immediate family, which consists of her younger sister Natty, her older (and brain damaged) brother Leo and dying grandmother. Anya puts her family before herself so many times; it was nice to see such a caring and unselfish character. I know there's a sequel and I really hope that Anya takes over the family business. She's the heir apparent and would do such good job leading. Maybe she could add some ethics to the crime element?
The only thing Anya does for herself throughout All These Things I've Done is start a relationship with Win, who also happens to be the Assistant DA's son. They aren't supposed to be together, but the star-crossed lovers thing plays out for about two seconds and then they are a couple. I liked Win a lot, but the relationship felt pretty distant and even a bit rushed: they are "in love" fairly quickly and without the emotions I would like to see beforehand.
Even though I'm not dying to read the sequel, I would like to see what happens next. The crime family situation really appealed to me for some reason so I think I would pick up the book for that. Hopefully, Anya becomes the crime boss (which would be awesome) because that would really add a lot to the story and make it super interesting (a 17-year old girl a crime boss? Nothing could go wrong there).
By the way, does anyone else think of the song, "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers when they see the title of this book? I couldn't stop singing it while reading.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: received copy from Flamingnet Review program
2011/Farrar, Straus and Giroux/354 pages.