Title: All These Things I've Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Narrator: Ilyana Kadushin
Format: Unabridged Audio Book
Length: 10 hours
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: September 6th 2011
Taken from Goodreads
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 accidently 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.
I do love killing two birds with one stone. Seriously. I sometimes sit in my garden and scatter crumbs at my feet, waiting for that perfect moment when two birds are close enough together so that I can drop a paving slab on them. So satisfying. I wish I could have written this paragraph apropos of nothing, but unfortunately I'm talking about my two big challenges of 2012: the Audiobook Challenge and the TBR Challenge. They're the two birds and this review is the one stone.
Way back in the summery warmth of August, when I had no need of my sleeved blanket and my toes weren't in danger of frostbite, I won a competition hosted by Brett at Demon's Read Too. An audio edition of All These Things I've Done, by Gabrielle Zevin, was my prize! Now usually audiobooks don't become part of my mahoosive TBR pile because I love them so much. Whenever I'm not doing something that involves writing, I have an audiobook on. You know all those times when you just wish you could be reading a good book instead of cleaning, cooking, shopping, walking the dogs, doing laundry etc? Well, with audiobooks you can keep reading while getting all that done. They're amazing. So usually I swallow my audiobooks in a fast gulp. This one only remained on a back burner because I forgot it was in the USB Diskpro app! At 27 I'm already getting senile.
All These Things I've Done follows the first person narrative of Anya Balanchine, a sixteen year old girl who lives in a prohibitive society where caffeine and chocolate are illegal. The Balanchine family have, in the past, been connected to the mafia as the family used to produce high quality chocolate. I liked the whimsy of a "chocolate" mafia. At first I worried that it sounded a bit silly, like a plot device for a child's book, as opposed to YA, but the way chocolate is described by Zevin made it seem like it should be a controlled substance! She talks about chocolate the way a junkie talks about crack. I can understand that. I'm a stereotypical girl when it comes to a bit of melt-in-the-mouth luxury. See?! See where your mind went when you read that?! So... not for the kiddies!
Although the plot of this book was fairly predictable and not necessarily mind-blowingly provocative, one thing saved it for me and that was Anya. She was a particularly strong female character who, given her age, should not have made as a strong a matriarchal figure as she did. Anya was strong. She took control and was willing to forsake her own happiness in order to protect those she cared about. She wasn't overbearing and her stubbornness did not make her hard to connect with. She was a truly enjoyable character.
This is one of those stories which had quirks to make it memorable and a character to make it enjoyable. A huge thanks to Brett at Demon's Read Too for his giveaway so many months ago!