I read. I read. I read.
All These Things I've Done - Gabrielle Zevin This author first caught my attention with the book Elsewhere. The care she took with the characters in Elsewhere convinced me to seek out future novels. I’m so glad that All These Things I’ve Done has proven me right in doing so.Set in the late 21st century, this book takes place largely in a broken down and beaten up New York City. A once proud America has decayed and water is rationed, chocolate is contraband, caffeine is illegal, and the same ne'er-do-wells that have always inhabited the city are stirring the pot. Anya (and let me just say I’ve loved that name since my Buffy days) is a sixteen-year-old girl struggling to juggle too many balls: her dying grandmother, her mentally-damaged older brother, her smart younger sister, and a superbly sweet boyfriend. In addition to her blood family, Anya is also dealing with her crime family. Her father was the crime boss of a chocolate family. Was being the operative word. His death became a catalyst for all that Anya is forced to deal with today.Gabrielle Zevin carefully constructs a decrepit city with new rules, new (old) places, and the same old political struggle. References to a reformatory built in the now-toppled Statue of Liberty and to old New York haunts are well-crafted. I could easily picture this city of ruins.The cast of characters present in this novel serve the story well. Friends, family and Family all act and speak just as you’d expect them to without becoming too cliché. The adults in the story act like adults – albeit adults whose roles have changed thanks to the world they now inhabit. Teens act like teens when it comes to emotions. There is plenty of angst, sorrow, and laughter throughout.Win – Anya’s new boyfriend – is a welcome presence to balance the weight of the world that rests on Anya’s shoulders. He’s funny, witty, and lovable without being a pawn in the whole game. Their romance weaves in and out of the main plot well.One of the trends I find so off-putting in YA fiction is the overuse of sound-words (ugh, gah, mmmm, etc.) and this book does well to avoid them. I think I remember one ‘ugh’ in the whole book. I also didn’t have to endure too many descriptions of clothing, music, or other unnecessary word fillers. When a reference is made to clothing, it enhances the plot by pointing out that re-wearing clothes from years gone by is a requirement and not a way to trade on the vintage angle. Books are collectibles and paper is at a premium.In summary, I’m very pleased with the first book in this series. This author is top-notch and I trust her to continue the series in the same manner. If you enjoyed the Holly Black's Curse Workers series, you’ll want to give this book series a go, too.