Friday, October 14, 2011

Audiobook Review: All These Things I've Done

All These Things I've Done (Birthright, 1) by Gabrielle Zevin, read by Ilyana Kadushin, 2011. Time: 10 hours (8 discs). Published by Macmillan Audiobook/Farrar Straus Giroux. Source: Publisher for review.
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.
First Sentence:
The night before junior year- I was sixteen, barely- Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me.
Okay, so I really, and I mean really, wanted to either read or listen to All These Things I've Done. Although I wasn't too sure what to expect having never read anything by the author before, but I worried for nothing since it was a pretty addictive story to listen to.

What drew my attention to All These Things I've Done is pure curiosity over the premise, the daughter of a deceased mobster and the fact that chocolate and coffee was banned (coffee I could live without, but chocolate I love it too much) and that its a dystopian, so yes, I had to devour it in one fashion or another.
Did it live up to my expectations, yes. Because going into listening to All These Things I've Done I did not really have any having never sampled Ms. Zevin's writing before.

Anya Balanchine, definitely one strong character. I loved the fact that she wasn't flighty in the least bit, and that she tried to always put her family first. I thought it was definitely interesting to read about a character that wasn't so self-involved and that she was a "mostly good catholic girl". While all those things made her interesting, I really liked how she struggled to stand by her convictions even when they seemed impossible to keep (like no sex before marriage).
  While I'm sure that most everyone will/did like Win, I didn't much care for him. It's not that he was a bad guy, it was just that throughout the entire book (especially the end) I just wasn't all the impressed with him as a character because he seemed kind of weak. what made me consider him a weak character was that he seemed more interested in doing what his father wouldn't approve dating Anya. Win, nice kid, just not main love interest potential.

What I really liked best about All These Things I've Done was the setting in which Ms Zevin put the book. I also thought it was interesting the points she made on why when things are banned (like chocolate and caffine in general) that that is when people are most likely to do anything to get it, like sell it on the black market in the book as was the case with Balanchine Chocolate.
     There was one thing about All These Things I've Done that threw me off a bit in the beginning of the book, and that would be the POV. Admittedly, it took me a couple of tracks to figure out what was bothering me, until I realized that Anya was narrating the story in the past tense. While a bit odd at first, I quickly adjusted and found myself enjoying it.

Content (will contain spoilers; highlight to see):
Language: In this aspect it was pretty clean, and I don't recall there being any swearing while I listened to it.  
Sexual Content: Near the beginning of the book Anya's boyfriend, Gable, tries to force her to have sex with him. and later on in the book Anya and Win come very (like saved by chance) close to having sex, but thankfully they didn't.
Violence: Anya, is maltreated while staying at a juvenile detention center (lack of food and water, as well stripped searched and  tattooed). As well as two shootings near the end of the book. 

Unlike some of the audio books I've listened to lately, it took me till about the disc two to really get into Ilyana's narration of All These Things I've Done. It wasn't that she did a bad job, it just took me some time to get used to her style of reading.

Even though Ms. Kadushin's reading style did not immediately pull me in to the story, I found that by time I was closing in on the last disc that I was completely hooked and could not wait to see how it would end. I did however really enjoy her portrayal of Anya, I felt that she did an excellent job in that department.

Final Verdict: All These Things I've Done pulls you in slowly and then won't let you go.

All These Things I've Done earns 4 out of 5 pineapples.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I bet the past tense was more obvious in the audio. I barely noticed it when reading the book.
    I really liked this one too and thought it was really different from any other dystopian out there. I loved the mob part as well and that she always put her family first.
    I guess you're right about Win, he does come across as kind of weak, but I really liked him and his personality and so I guess I didn't mind that he was kind of weak.
    Glad you liked this one too!


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