Late To The Party is my next band name.
With that out of the way, I'd seen this book around on GR but it wasn't until I saw the final book in the trilogy in one of the videos of Misty from the Book Rat that I really got interested (also, it was mostly because of the title. I mean, "In The Age of Love and Chocolate?" Damn, that's some major naming envy I've got going.)
Sadly, the book left me a little bit cold. In fact, I think my major problem with this was the exact same problem I had with Angel. But more on that below.
"All These Things I've Done" is set in a near-future America where chocolate and coffee are banned (along with a whole lot of other things, and there are also plenty of restrictions going on.) Our MC is Anya, daughter of a deceased Russian mafia boss who handles the black market for chocolate. Anya is a tough lass who tries to keep her two siblings in line, not attract attention, and live life as normally as she can. Sadly, forces outside of her control intervene, she falls in love with the son of the deputy district attorney of New York just as her family's chocolate supply becomes contaminated with a dangerous toxin. Drama! Mafia! Action!
Think Holly Black's "Curse Worker" series in a dystopian setting rather than an UF one.
First of all, I should probably note that, while I liked the "Curse Worker" series, there were things about it that didn't work for me, most notably the baffling amount of plot lines in "Red Glove", none of which seem to come to a satisfying conclusion. "All These Things I've Done" is better in that respect... and worse.
Where "Red Glove" had a ton of plot lines it didn't explore too well, this one had a few... and didn't explore them enough. And I think the main reason for that is Anya.
Anya is our reluctant hero and she is reluctant in every respect of the word. And that's pretty telling already, that I actually wanted the MC to embrace a life of crime just so that something might happen, yet it's what it is. And it's not because Anya's a bad character - she isn't. She's cool and she's fierce and she's not afraid to get down and dirty to get things done... but she just spends the book trying to do what is right all the time and you can see her holding back her full potential and it's. Just. Painful. You know she can take down those jerks who have it out for her, but she's trying to be good and you don't want her to be.
It's frustrating, I guess. Which... shouldn't be, I mean we're supposed to be a society which is all about reforming criminals and people being defined by their actions, not families, but in reality we're not as accommodating. Sad that we haven't evolved past the fight or flight instinct, but that's true and that's why you want to see Anya stop being so civilized.
That said, this is a fairly minor gripe and a rather personal one. In the larger picture, it's not even that big of a deal... because this story has a much larger problem.
So you know this thing when you're reading "Angel" and it's all going pretty fast and you're sitting there devouring the book and you don't mind the fact that bits and pieces don't make sense and there's some purple prose here and there, and some of the stylistic choices don't really make you happy, but you keep reading because it's just so interesting and you want to see what happens next, and then the two leads get together...
...and then you close the book and don't pick it up for several months.
(And by you, I mean myself. And rather than months, in this case it was days because it's a library book.)
That's what I meant earlier.
Here's how it breaks down: Anya/Win is a ship that works better in theory rather than practice. Meaning, when they're in the "will-they-won't-they" stage, it's all exciting and powerful and dangerous and interesting, because they have all this background and it looks like them getting together would be a Big Deal because Reasons. But then they get together and nothing happens.
And maybe that wouldn't have been so bad, if the book hadn't spent so much time trying to convince us that Anya and Win's relationship would potentially trigger a bloody backlash, Romeo x Juliet style.
Also, it would have helped if something actually happened once they got together, but apparently the plot had nothing better to do.
I just... book, it could have been done so much better! Why like this? Seriously?
That said, I am curious about the sequel, so hopefully things will pick up from there. Definitely looking forward to it.
Note: Image via BookLikes.