All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1)FeaturedHot
The only negative thing I can say about this book is that my "Trilodar (the ability to tell that a book is part of a triology and/or series) didn't go off until I was 3/4 of the way through it. I was not ready for this story to end yet!
Imagine living in a world, our world where a) caffeine is illegal, b) chocolate is contraband c) water is so expensive it's rationed and d) anyone born in 1995 is old...like ancient, one foot in the grave, on their deathbed, old. Insane, right? (Especially the part about caffeine being illegal - feel free to shoot me now!)
This is where the story of 16 yr old Anya Balanchine begins. The year is 2083, and the place is NYC. Anya is the daughter of deceased, crime boss, Leonyd Balanchine whose family owns the Balanchine Chocolate Company. (It would be like if the Hershey's were our country's number one crime boss family.)
Anya has two siblings, 18yr old Leo who is technically the legal guardian but was left with limited abilities after being injured as a child in a botched hit on their father's life (it killed their mother instead) and 12yr old sister Natty who is sweet yet precocious at times. Their paternal grandmother, Nana, lives with them and seems to be their closet relative who isn't directly linked to the "family business" but she's on her deathbed (literally) and not much help to them other than sharing stories of a different, busier life when words had to be shortened to acronyms like "O.M.G." and her secret stash of Balanchine Special Dark bars.
Anya is smart, strong, pretty and incredibly selfless. She's always putting everyone else first, almost to a fault and the sacrifices she makes for those she loves are both admirable and heartbreaking. She does have a bit of a temper which gets her into some trouble but at times she exercises incredible self control in situations where others who were not as strong would crumble like a cookie.
Scarlet Barber is Anya's long time BFF and is everything you want in a best friend - she's loyal, honest, and she loves Anya and her family like her own. She's a bit odd and somewhat of an outcast at school but she's definitely the one you want on your side. Go TEAM SCARLET!
Gable Arsley is Anya's ex-boyfriend and he's, well, pretty much an "ars". He's cocky, good looking, and he's used to doing whatever he wants and getting away with it, even if it's illegal.
Goodwin or "Win" Delacroix is the new guy at school and he's not only beautiful, kindhearted and smart but happens to take a liking to Anya and she to him. The only problem is that Win's father is the new Assistant D.A. and doesn't want him to have anything to do with the daughter of a crime boss. (Yeah, that kinda creates a problem for Dad's public image, don'tcha think?)
Anya has no desire to be a part of the "family business" even as some of her relatives tell her it's her birthright. (Birthright?!, what year is this anyway, 1980?!) She wants nothing more than to live a normal, teenage life but is plagued by her last name and her father's criminal history everywhere she turns. Ironically, she really wants to be a Crime Scene Investigator when she grows up, which doesn't exactly mesh with the family biz. When things start to happen throughout the city and within the world of chocolate, people are hurt, blame is placed and Anya will be forced to make a choice between protecting what she loves most - her family or her true love.
Anya is 16, a good Catholic, and seriously full of angst! Within the first chapter she goes to a speakeasy (serving coffee), takes some chocolate from the family stash (which her bastard boyfriend swipes), covers her ex-boyfriend with piping hot lasagna, and steals a gun. Her family is also in the mafia, which is what the story mainly focuses on. Anya gets arrested for allegedly poisoning her ex-boyfriend with tainted chocolate. I actually was enjoying the story at that point even though crime dramas aren’t my thing.
But as soon as things were getting really interesting and gritty at the juvenile detention center, she gets released and cleared of all charges. This was less than half way into the book, so I had no clue what to expect in the coming pages. I think continuing her accusations and trial would have made a great story, since we’d get more peeks into how the new legal system is, but nope. The plot jumped right back to the illegal chocolate which was losing it’s novelty fast, especially when lines like “I must get to the bottom of this matter with the chocolate…” started popping up.
If the timeline had been condensed to just Anya’s detainment and trial, this could have been a really great read. It would have given us more insight into how this new world is working, and all of the corruption caused by the chocolate black market. Instead it feels like we’re getting a few, small, isolated plots: Anya falsely accused for attempted murder, then almost immediately released. Then it jumps into her secret romance, which a few pages later is no longer secret, and it’s like the chocolate conspiracy never happened. Then her romance gets dropped because Grandma dies and Anya and her little sister are left in the care of their older brother Leo. Now this could have also been really interesting, since despite being 19, an accident left Leo with the intellect of an 8-year old, making their situation very sensitive.
Unfortunately, that gets set aside because now Anya is being told she must step up and head her mafia family and run the chocolate business! Then…you guessed it, that gets dropped and the focus goes back to Leo. Each event is completely separate from everything else, and when one new situation appears, it’s like everything else never happened. That really frustrated me, but despite all of that, I was intrigued. I don’t know if I care enough to continue the series though.
The shelving of this book is also bit misleading. Dystopian? Not so much, unless not getting your morning coffee equals the end of the world. You wouldn’t call a book set during Prohibition Dystopian, and this is just like that. Mafia crime drama with chocolate on top? Definitely. Honestly, if the blurb had been the same but without the mentions of illegal coffee and chocolate, I wouldn’t have bothered picking this one up.
But anyways,awesome book!!!Those who have kept this waiting are either really unfortunate or just plain stupid.This book is definitely worth your time!
Wow what can I say about this book? It made me laugh, cry. During the whole book I was going back and forth between being happy and sad oh it was crazy. But I gave this book 5 stars because I thought it was absolutely brilliant. Gabrielle Zevin did an amazing job writing this, and in result I cannot wait to read some of her other books. So now on to the book.
The characters my favorite character was Win. Now I know what your thinking "What?! what about Annie?" Yes she was right up there with there with Win because of how strong and what a good guardian she was but Win because he was the good guy right from the start. He was always there for Annie even when she wasn't so nice to him herself. He didn't care what his father thought of them he just knew that he loved her and he wanted to be with her. Which in my book that’s so sweet. If I were to vote on favorite couples I would so vote for them and I’m still sad that Annie had to leave him in the end. I really hope that they get back together in the end because they were a really cute couple.
Now on to other things. I really like Leo & Natty's characters they were like my dream brother and sister even though Leo has problems. I'm the kind of person who would have been able to handle him and a younger sister. They were such good Leo might of had a little bit of a problem but he still had a good heart, and he was still there for his two sisters. But near the end I was so confused when I found out Leo shot someone I was like "What?! Leo couldn't have done that" But he did, I’m glad Annie was able to get him out of the country safely because he really did shoot his uncle for good reason even though his good reason was mislead. I hope that we get to see more of Leo in the next few weeks.
Scarlet and Annie’s relationship was a really good friendship and I really liked scarlet until she decided to date Gable. I mean she broke the girl code for one. Then when Annie told her Gable tried to pressure her for sex Scar had the audacity to say "He told me everything and you misunderstood." I mean really? come on now. If I told my friend that this guy tried to pressure me for sex and spread rumors and she went and dated him? Yeah that'd be it for the friendship. I guess Annie was a little bit more forgiving then me though.
So my last thoughts are that I hope that Annie and Win can get back together and be together because I loved them as a couple. My second last thought is I really hope we see more of Leo because he was an awesome character. I thought he was so cute just the things he said but yeah I hope to see more of him in the future! What do you think?