Thursday, February 9, 2012

All These Things I've Done

Imagine a world in which chocolate and coffee are illegal. For some, this is the premise for a horror story. Since I don't like either, it was going to take a little more to make this society dystopian. I needn't have worried, Gabrielle Zevin provided.

2083 is not a good year for Anya Balanchine. Her mobster family's chocolate company has floundered since the death of her parents, and she must take care of her younger sister and older, mentally disabled brother on her own. While she tries to do well in school and live a normal life, things get worse when her grandmother's health declines and the Balanchine chocolate supply is poisoned. The responsibility continues to fall on Anya's shoulders and eventually, something has to give.

It was jarring to begin reading this novel after The Scorpio Games, since Zevin's writing style is so different from Maggie Stiefvater's. At first, I thought I didn't like All These Things I've Done, but realized that I was carrying my kindle everywhere I went so I could sneak in a few more pages. Once I succumbed to Anya's voice, I ended up really enjoying the novel and looking forward to the following two novels in this trilogy.

One thing I really enjoyed was Anya's relationship with her flighty best friend, Scarlet. When a cute new boy comes to school and Scarlet sets her sights on him, I predicted the petty jealousy that often arises when novels take on this topic. Instead, Zevin shows that the girls' friendship is stronger than a crush, which was refreshing. I love that Scarlet supports her friend through dark times and fills a role that was vacated by many others in Anya's life.

The other part of All These Things I've Done that really impressed me was Zevin's exploration of Anya's Catholicism. Many young adult novels don't discuss religion, maybe out of fear of alienating readers. Anya attends Catholic school and struggles with morality. Yes, she has seen many people killed, but she still wants to remain a virgin until she is married. It is not an easy vow for her to keep, and the novel handles the subject in a realistic and sensitive way.

The next book in the series, Because It Is My Blood, will be released in September 2012, so it will be awhile before we will know what comes next for Anya. I look forward to finding out.

1 comment:

  1. I liked this one a lot too! Although I didn't think it ended up having much to do with Anya "accepting her birthright," as the cover suggests, until the very end... I'm guessing there'll be a lot more of that business in book #2!

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