In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidentally poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight–at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
Set in New York City, in the near future, the world is much different in 2083. Hello, chocolate is illegal! Books are extremely rare and people who have them are thought to be wealthy and perhaps a bit strange. Both of these things would drive me a bit crazy, to be honest.
All These Things I’ve Done doesn’t focus so much on the government as most dystopian novels do. Instead it focuses more on the crime aspect. The main character’s deceased father was the leader of the mafia, dealing in chocolate-both legally and illegally. It was fascinating to see inside of the Family/crime world.
Poor Anya! Her parents were both killed, her older brother has health issues, her grandmother is hooked up to machines that are supposed to make her live just long enough for Anya to become the legal guardian of her sister. At 16, Anya takes care of everyone in her household and tries to keep their noses clean with the rest of the Family’s crime business. Anya is one of the most level-headed and realistic teen girls in the genre that I’ve read. Sure, she thinks the new boy is cute, but she knows her family comes before romance.
There are a few references to the present time that kept me entertained. Such as the characters wondering what “OMG” was slang for, references to a “sandal wearing statue” (Statue of Liberty), and, as previously mentioned, chocolate being bad (and worse than alcohol).
As a lover of dystopian books, All These Things I’ve Done doesn’t disappoint at all. I cannot wait to read more from Gabrielle Zevin. If dystopian books aren’t your usual fare, this one may still appeal to you, because it’s definitely original and not your typical the-government-is-corrupt book.
I received my copy from the publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.