Book Review: All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done is the first book in the Birthright series by Gabrielle Zevin. It is published by Macmillan Children's Books on 6th April 2012 and the book is 384 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC for review.

Plot
Sixteen year-old Anya becomes the head of a Mafia family after her parents are both murdered by rival gangs. Although Anya is embroiled in the criminal world, she is determined to keep her brother and sister out of the Mafia family, but her father's relatives aren't so keen to let them go. When Anya's violent ex-boyfriend is poisoned with contaminated chocolate – chocolate that is produced illegally by Anya's Mafia family – she is arrested for attempted murder and sent to the notorious jail on Manhattan Island.

Eventually she is freed by the new D.A. in town, who believes she has been framed. But this D.A. is the father of Win, a boy at school to whom Anya feels irresistibly drawn, and her freedom comes with conditions. Win's father wants to be mayor, and he can't risk having his ambition jeopardised by rumours spreading that his son is seeing a member of a notorious crime family. Anya knows she risks the safety of her family by seeing Win again, but the feeling between them may be too strong to resist...

What I thought
Having read a fair amount of dystopian books recently, I wasn't sure whether or not to pick up this book. I didn't want it to be anything like the others I had recently read but luckily, it was nothing like any of them.

Anya was a very refreshing main character. After already having been through a lot in her short sixteen years, she has a maturity that you rarely see in YA books. Although her Grandmother is her legal guardian, Anya is put in charge of looking after her brother and sister as well as making sure her sick Grandmother is ok at the same time. On top of all of this, Anya still has to go to school and try to lead a normal life. While she is doing all of this, Anya manages to stick to her morals and the faith she believe in without letting people pressure her into changing. Because of all of this, I could really respect Anya and the things that she stood for.

Anya's family are actually a pretty big deal in this book. Her older brother Leo has a learning disability so instead of him being in charge, Anya is. Then, there is her little sister Natty who always seemed to demand attention and wanted to be in the middle of whatever was going on. As characters, Anya, Leo and Natty are all extremely different but at the same time, you can see that they are siblings. Little things would tie them together and make me remember that they are actually related. I liked how different they all were because even though Natty and Leo could have been used more, they both bring something special and endearing to this book.

Looking at the bigger picture of Anya's family though is where things really get interesting. Her less immediate family are the Mafia, controlling the chocolate supply. As chocolate, among other things, are now illegal there is a big demand and because of this, the family can pretty much do whatever they want. When Anya's ex boyfriend is poisoned by eating chocolate, her suspicions are raised and she knows she needs to get to the bottom of what her family are doing. As she doesn't have much to do with them though, she doesn't know who to trust any more and who is even telling the truth. I loved the mystery aspect and felt that it gave the book a whole different feel to anything else I have read in a long time. The streets of New York seemed like a dark and dangerous place to be because of the things happening outside and against the laws.

The romance in this book is where I felt let down though. Anya falls for Win, the son of the new D.A. Quickly, his father asks Anya to not get involved because of his campaign. Although Win's father is supposed to come across as quite scary and intimidating, I didn't feel this at all from him. If anything, he actually seemed quite nice and friendly, even when he was trying to shock Anya. Because of this, I didn't really feel that the relationship between Anya and Win was ever forbidden and they certainly don't fit into the 'star-crossed lovers' category. I wanted to feel a sense of danger when it came to this relationship but there wasn't any point at all where I did feel that way.

That being said, I did actually like the relationship that Anya and Win had. Win is a lovely boy who clearly cared a lot for Anya and didn't care about what anyone else thought about them being together, even his father. Win's life is most definitely his own and won't let anyone tell him what to do. Anya is a strong and determined character as well so because of this, they really did make a good couple. The banter between the two was funny but sweet at the same time and it was easy to see how much they liked each other. I would have loved to have seen a little more passion between the two to back this up a little better but I can't ask for everything.

Overall, All These Things I've Done is a great start to a new series. It is set in the year 2082 which is not all that far away which makes things seem real and scary. I would never like to live in a world where chocolate was against the law and where everyone had a curfew. I'm excited to see where Zevin will take this series and to see what happens between Anya and Win. 

3 comments:

  1. Usually, the mention of Mafia turns me right off but your beautifully written review has actually made me want to read this book. Another one to add to the wish list!

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  2. So glad you liked it I have had it on my wish-list for ages

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  3. Wow, that is an early review! I have this on my pile to read, and am hoping to read it soon :)

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