Book Review: All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin

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 accidentally 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.

Release Date:  September 27, 2011
Age Group:  Young Adult
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source:  Review copy from publisher

Doesn't this sound like such a neat and unique book?  I thought the summary was really intriguing and couldn't wait to dive in to All These Things I've Done.  Seriously, a world without chocolate?  I can't make it one day without chocolate, so to read about chocolate as an illegal substance was really interesting to me.

Anya is a tough nut to crack.  She has the detached exterior and cool cunning of Katniss Everdeen.  Anya cares for her siblings and her ailing grandmother with compassion, but she doesn't allow herself the opportunity to have many of her own feelings. 

The writing was very spare, which left the book feeling almost emotionless for me.  To be fair, I didn't give this book a fighting chance, as I read only a few pages per night.  It took me over three weeks to finish the book, which gave me plenty of time to lose momentum and emotion.

I really liked the world Zevin created.  I thought the illegal substances of chocolate and caffeine was such a unique idea, and I loved the descriptions of Anya's boyfriend when he was high on chocolate.  Another thing that appealed to me was the character development.  I cared about the characters and was invested in their stories.  I especially liked how Anya grows into her emotions by the book's end.

I was pretty upset about the open ending until I learned that All These Things I've Done is the first in a series.  I will definitely read more from Gabrielle Zevin and look forward to the next book in the series.  


  1. Sounds like you liked this one but had mixed feelings because of the ending. I love the way this one sounds too ^-^ Thanks for the review! I really can't wait to check this one out for myself!

  2. I really liked the other two books by this author and was really looking forward to this one. Sounds like this book spent most of the time establishing the world and characters, which makes sense since it's a part of a series. I also can't imagine a world where chocolate and coffee are banned. I wouldn't last, that's for sure. ;)

  3. I have this one waiting for me on my shelf. I hate cliff-hanger endings, though they do keep me excited for the sequels. I'll just have to see how this one turns out for me. Thanks for the review!

  4. GASP heard round the world. The very idea of chocolate and caffeine being illegal is utterly horrifying!

    Still that is a pretty high rating for a book that was easy to put down frequently. That definitely indicate to me that the story was good.

    Thanks for the review Kelli. I now feel compelled to keep in stash of chocolate hidden, just in case.


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