Anya loves her family. They come first in all matters and she’ll do anything for them. Anything. Having a wonderful boyfriend isn’t at the top of her to-do list. But who’s she kidding? It would be nice.
When her best-friend doesn’t hit off well with the new boy at school — Win — Anya finds herself starting to fall for him. But home life isn’t exactly easy. How could it be when her father was the head of the city crime, both her parents were murdered by gang leaders, and her relatives run an illegal business trading chocolate? Life is never going to be easy…
Especially when Anya is accused of giving her ex-boyfriend poisoned chocolate…
I didn’t know much about this book before I started reading it.
Just the basics. Dystopian world. Protagonist is a girl. Something about attempted murder. And chocolate and coffee are illegal (come on, that’s enough to make anyone pick up the book). It promised to be good. What I didn’t know? It’s a romance. Probably the most intense romance I’ve read. (Yeah, I know, the word “love” is plastered all over the back cover; but in my defence I didn’t get to see the back-cover until I picked it up from the library. And, just a quick note on the backcover…the blurb actually has very little to do with the book. I don’t know why they wrote it like that. Completely obsolete.)
In terms of a story, All These Things I’ve Done is a great read.
The dystopian world setting is a little more unique then others I’ve read. Anya (our protagonist) is the daughter of the dead leader of the crime underworld. Her family is runs an illegal chocolate business. The city is in ruins. Water is rationed and precious. And then there’s the high school. That, I have to say, doesn’t change much in 2090 (or thereabouts; I’m not 100 percent on the dating of the book).
In terms of plot, it’s a bit erratic.
I felt a lot of holes and jolting bumps as I went through, and it left me frowning quite a lot. At one point, Anya is sent to “Liberty” (which is a kids correction facility actually built into the Statue of Liberty; cool!) and I felt her whole time there was totally irrelevant. The way she acted in there, the way she was treated, why she ended up there—I wasn’t impressed. The story, so flowing and meaningful till there, took a jolting turn and made a mash of her internment. When Anya left Liberty, the story line went back to being flawless. What’s with that?
And the characters? Brilliant!
Full marks for creating realistic, relatable, and unique characters. Our protagonist actually has backbone (utterly astounding!). She’s tough and has an fiery temper, but the author shows the readers her weakness and her loves. Seeing Anya’s soft side doesn’t make us think she’s soft and goopy. It makes us love her. Anya has strong protective instincts. She loves her family and she’ll do absolutely anything to keep them safe and together. She’s really worried about Heaven and Hell and keeps up her Catholic rituals to try and avoid getting there. I loved that slant on the story. Usually God is void in these kinds of stories. And even if the way Anya is going about getting to heaven isn’t quite right, she’s still conscious of it—and of keeping her purity; and praying; and trying to keep out of trouble.
And Anya’s best friend…oh yes!
I’m not usually impressed with the “best friends” of our amazing protagonists, but Scarlet was good. She wasn’t a flimsy one-dimensional character either. And the love interest, Win? Well, let’s just say he was perfect. A little too perfect I think. His only flaw was falling in love with the girl his father said not to and not taking the hint when Anya told him to take a hike and listen to his dad. I don’t like perfect characters. But…though Win could have had more guts, he didn’t come across as a floppy, goody-goody that you want to shove out a window. His character is firm, just too good to be true. Anya’s family are also portrayed well and written with a unique slant. But I found it hard to relate to her older brother. He has a slight mental disability after a car accident that killed their mother—but as a reader, I didn’t pick that up at all. The only different thing about him is he cries more than a boy of 19 usually does. But otherwise, his disability is basically invisible to the reader. I wonder if the author wanted it that way.
The book carries serious consideration on family values as well.
The love Anya has toward her family is unbelievable! She’s dedicated to them. They always come first—and even the boy she loves comes second.
Beside the plot glitches, I didn’t mind the book.
It will never rate as a favourite, but that’s mainly due to the plot problems (and not me being biased because it’s a romance. Well…not quite). Having good characters is number one on my list—but a good plot is up there too. I really liked the twist with chocolate and coffee being illegal—and how that made them so highly sort after. On the other hand, alcohol, which was in boring abundance, wasn’t a problem for anyone. And that was one of the thoughts running through the book. If something’s illegal or restricted, does that make people want it more?