Anya Balanchine lives in a world where chocolate is illegal, water is scarce and New York City is a ghost of what it once was. Central Park is no longer a park. The Metropolitan Museum is a night club.
Anya’s life has been touched by tragedy, if not hardship, as the daughter of an infamous (and dead) crime boss. With her parents gone, it falls to Anya to take care of her siblings and protect them from the family business.
But when the family business is illegal chocolate, it’s hard to stay on the sidelines–especially when the new boy at school that you might like happens to be the son of the new assistant district attorney. Suddenly all of the decisions Anya has been avoiding need to be made and this time it might not be possible to keep everyone safe.
In a world where so much has changed and family means everything, falling in love could be deadly in All These Things I’ve Done (2011) by Gabrielle Zevin.
All These Things I’ve Done is the dynamic start to Zevin’s Birthright series—happily so since this book leaves readers who are looking for dystopians, noir stories, and even heist stories like White Cat or Heist Society wanting a lot more.
Although the story is little gory and gritty at times (and maybe even a little bleak thinking about a world where the Met is a nightclub and paper is a thing of the past) Zevin still manages to imbue Anya’s narrative with hope. Throughout all of her travails, Anya manages to persevere. Even at her most ruthless and pragmatic Anya remains a completely sympathetic heroine. Zevin also cleverly reverses typical tropes casting Anya as the hero while her boyfriend stands in as the “damsel in distress” of this story.
The writing here is beautiful and frank, immediately evoking the strange new world Anya calls home complete with details specific to New York and a remarkably well-realized landscape. All These Things I’ve Done presents a taut story filled with tension and suspense that starts off what promises to be a remarkable series.
Possible Pairings: White Cat by Holly Black, Strings Attached by Judy Blundell, Heist Society by Ally Carter, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Leverage (television series), White Collar (television series)
You can also read my interview with Gabrielle Zevin on my other blog.