My love affair with Gabrielle Zevin’s writing began way back in 2006 with the publication of her first book, Margarettown. I can’t even remember how I found that book, probably the library, but I adored it for it’s quirkiness, it’s uniqueness, and it’s whimsy. Since then I’ve read all her books but one, and that is simply because I didn’t know about it, and the love has only grown.
Then came All These Things I’ve Done.
Read by Ilyana Kadushin.
More about Ms. Kadushin in a moment. First, let’s discuss this story.
It’s the year 2083. Natural resources are becoming scarce and the increased regulation of things like water makes life difficult. It also leads to the banning of things like chocolate. Yes, there is a new prohibition and it’s on chocolate, be still my heart. Anya Balanchine’s family is one the big five great chocolate families and, now that chocolate is banned, they are more like a mafia family. Anya’s father was murdered, right in front of her and her sister, and life hasn’t been the same since. Anya is now basically the head of her small part of the family; herself, her older brother Leo, younger sister Natty, and her bedridden grandmother. Anya’s life fits the stereotype of a mafia family member who wants out, she tries to lay low, not draw attention to herself or her family and just become an adult so she doesn’t have to worry about it any more. But the life keeps trying to draw her back in. Especially when her ex-boyfriend gets poisoned, and almost dies, by the illicit chocolate she gives him one night just to get him to go away.
There are a lot of things to love about Anya and I’m not just thinking about her boyfriend Win, who I particularly adored. Anya is strong. Mature beyond her years. Resourceful, smart, and intensely loyal. She was, perhaps, a little more introspective than most 16-year-olds, but I could somewhat forgive that since she had to grow up a little quicker than most. And if I had a sister, I’d probably want one like her. She’s got your back. But she definitely isn’t the cuddly sort. She is hard to love.
And that important plot point, the teenage love affair, that was pretty good. Like I said, I adored Win.
I had a few problems with the book. One, and it’s not fault of her own because she did a great job, was (for me) Ilyana Kadushin. She read Twilight. She is Bella, in my poor stubborn mind. For the first few chapters, I couldn’t get Bella out of my mind! But that’s only because I’ve only listened to Kadushin read Twilight prior to this book and, like I said, I have a stubborn mind. Once Bella was out of my mind and Anya firmly into it, I didn’t have any more problems. And Kadushin did a really good job with the narrative. I do think she sounds a tad mature for the teenagers she voices, but she is very skilled at what she does and I enjoyed her reading. My second problem was with Anya. I never quite bonded with her. She’s a prickly little thing, hard to like sometimes, BUT I think this is on purpose. So yeah, I’m not exactly complaining about it. I actually can’t wait to see where Zevin takes her character in the next book; if Anya will become more likable. Oh yes, and third; this is the start of a trilogy. Do all YA books have to be trilogies now?
So, all in all, the love affair with Zevin’s writing continues, if maybe slightly watered down a bit. I can’t wait to see where she takes Anya, Win, Scarlet, and the rest of that rascally Balanchine family.
All These Things I’ve Done
By Gabrielle Zevin
Read by Ilyana Kadushin
Pub. Date: September 2011
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Format: Compact Disc
Age Range: Young Adult
Series: Birthright Series
Source: I received this book from the publisher, even though I didn’t ask for it. Thanks guys!