All These Things I’ve Done (Birthright) by Gabrielle Zevin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; $16.99; 368 pages)
While everyone’s lost, the battle is won/ With all these things that I’ve done (Time, truth and hearts)/ If you can hold on/ If you can hold on. “All These Things That I’ve Done,” The Killers
Chocolate is contraband… caffeine is illegal…
In All These Things I’ve Done, Gabrielle Zevin creates a New York City some seventy years into the future, when dealing in and possession of chocolate is a crime. Yes, it’s another dystopian young adult novel, and faint whiffs of urban decay lend it an appropriate bleakness. But several elements set it apart from the pack and make it an unusually entertaining read.
Firstly, although the government and police are the obvious heavies, the protagonist, Anya Balanchine, is not entirely a victim. Rather, she is the scion of an illustrious crime boss, and when her louse of a boyfriend is poisoned by tainted chocolate, suspicion turns to her.
Secondly, the adult characters are almost as prominent as teen characters. Particularly well drawn are Galina, Anya’s wise and street-savvy grandmother, and Charles Delacroix, the assistant district attorney, whose own agenda threatens to squash Anya’s chance at happiness.
Finally, there is Anya, herself. At 16, she’s whip smart and calculating. As the de facto “guardian” for her younger sister and older but impaired brother, she has to weigh her every move against the legal implications as well as the potential retaliations by her own extended crime family and other chocolate syndicates.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux released All These Things I’ve Done on September 6th. And readers who find Anya Balanchine intriguing will have cause for celebration: This is the first book in a series. Well recommended.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.