Genre: Mob/Crime Fiction/Dystopian/A bit of Mystery
Release Date: 9/6/2011
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About the Book: Anya Balanchine lives in a future where chocolate and caffeine is illegal and paper is rationed. As the daughter of a chocolate "mob boss" Anya could work in the family business. Anya wants nothing to do with the chocolate business that killed her parents and injured her brother. She wants as normal of a life as possible for herself and her siblings. But life gets complicated when Anya is accused of poising her ex-boyfriend with an illegal chocolate bar.
I have loved Gabrielle Zevin's two previous YA novels, so I went into this book with high expectations. Luckily I was not disappointed! I was sucked into the story and couldn't put this book down until I had finished.
The book is set in a future where the government has more control, things have been rationed due to supplies running low, and some items, such as chocolate, have become illegal. Anya is the daughter of a powerful chocolate boss who runs a chocolate company-chocolate is still legal in other countries, plus the government is corrupt enough to trade favors when needed and look the other way. We're given hints about the future setting and the world Anya lives in, but we don't know much. The world intrigued me, but this isn't a book that relies heavily on world building. It's a more character driven story than anything else. For readers who are looking for a dystopian novel, this aspect might be a bit disappointing, since the dystopian part isn't as fleshed out. I wasn't bothered by it because I found the crime family/mob storyline interesting and I really liked all the characters.
While the book has a dystopian aspect to it, it really felt more like a Prohibition Mob story but set in the future. The future setting isn't so distant (Anya's grandmother was born in 1995) that it feels too futuristic. Instead it felt like a contemporary novel with some changes. To me, this is what made the book so engaging. I have an obsession with stories from this era-one of my all time favorite movies is the musical Bugsy Malone-so I was easily hooked on the crime story. I think readers who enjoy reading stories set in the 1920's/1930's would also be interested in All These Things I've Done.
I loved Anya. She's strong and wants to take care of her family. She cares very much for her siblings and is very loyal to them-so much so that she'll take the fall to protect them. She's also very logical and can be a bit distant, but I found her to have a bit of wit to her that I really liked. There's a star-crossed romance to the story as Anya and the new DA's son start to fall for each other. I have to say props to Anya for not falling into the love at first sight trap! She even mentions at one point that it was too soon to say she loved Win, which was a bit refreshing after reading many "he's the one for me" YA novels.
The story is a bit quiet, but I felt that fit the book well. The dystopian setting is light and this isn't an action-packed book by any means. I was sucked into the story and I liked Anya, so I wanted to stick with her. Plus, I felt this fit the Mob mood of the story-quiet and cool.
There's a lot packed into the book that surprised me and I really appreciated that Ms. Zevin took some twists and turns with the story. It wasn't what I expected going in and I liked that the characters and the story surprised me throughout.
It's a romance, crime fiction, and a bit of a dytopian all mixed into one and I loved it! I've been recommending this to everyone I know. By the time I got to the ending, I wanted to start all over and read it again. I can't wait for the next installment!!