Biggest thanks to Hachette Children’s Books and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this book
All Fall Down is the first book I read from Ally Carter. I was intrigued, by the synopsis, by this story seeming really different, compared to, well, anything I ever read and saw before in YA books. I wasn’t disappointed : it was a great, distracting read, full of suspense, humor and with a great deal of diverse, interesting characters. However, I have to say, this book left me a bit hungry for more.
Noah broadens his stance, taking his place firmly on the embassy side of the threshold. “in the United States,” he says. Then, with both feet, he leaps on to the sidewalk. “Out of the United States.” Quickly, he jumps back toward me. “In the United States.” Another jump across the threshold. “Out of the United States. In. Out. In –”
“Is this the part where I hit you?”
For starters, I’m going to talk about the plot. I’ve never read anything quite like this before, so this has to be noted. I really liked the idea of characters living in ambassies, travelling between different ‘countries’ just like that. “I’m going to Brazil”, she says, putting her foot in a courtyard. And she’s in Brazil. Yes, that’s pretty much like that. It’s a good idea, and a great concept, that Ally Carter followed very well all thorough the book. It brought a diversity we don’t see really often : the characters are all from different countries, sometimes speaking different languages. This made this story one-of-a-kind. The setting, well, unsettling. The themes? Modern day politics, spies,…those are pretty good ideas to deal with in YA books. Personally, I’m not used to seeing this often, so it was very refreshing. Moreover, there’s basically no romance in this book (or, if you’ve seen it and I’ve missed it, tell me). It makes it even more different : usually, the mystery, the big events are surrounded by a love interest, messing things up. Here, no. It feels good, for once. One thing I really enjoyed, in this plot, is how some flashbacks wraps around the main story. We get to see a glimpse of Grace’s memories, and we try to put the pieces of a mystery together. This made the story way more dynamic, and interesting for me to read.
In All Fall Down, you get yourself a very fast-paced story, packed with lots of action, intrigue, and we’re kept guessing until the very end. Sometimes, though, I would’ve liked it to be a little slower. I felt like we were just passing by quickly on some important relationships, for instance. I felt like I didn’t know Alexei, for instance. He’s supposed to be one of the main characters, (I think), and we barely see him during the story. I think knowing more about him, his relationship to Grace’s brother, would’ve been really interesting. The same applies to Grace’s relationship with Megan. We understand that they’ve known each other for a long time, but, what happened between them ? Are they friends, or not really ? I missed something, maybe, but I feel like these relationships between some of the characters would’ve deserved a little more pages in this book. I think this is one of the weak point of this book, for me : so many relationships felt, too quick, or/and unfinished. They didn’t grow enough during this story, for me. I felt like things were unfinished, because of that.
“Friends help each other when they are…you know…going up international hit men and stuff.”
However, I think Ally Carter built a very good panel of characters : they’re all different, they all work together and there’s a great dynamic of group between the main characters. I really enjoyed Noah’s character : funny, smart, he was really my favorite in this book. His relationship with Grace was great to read, their dialogues are always good. The main character, Grace, was good to read : she speaks up for herself, she’s full of mischevious and adventure. And yet, (unlike the relationships in this book, unfortunately), there are so many different layers in her personality, due to her trauma, and everything that happened to her. That made her very interesting to read.
On the writing… it was distracting to read, we can feel a dynamic building up, especially during some dialogues. There are really funny comebacks, too. However, maybe it felt kind of simple : I didn’t find that we went deep enough inside the character’s minds and especially their relationships. Due to that, I didn’t find myself rooting for any of the characters a lot, so I’m disappointed in that a bit. Maybe I’ll try out another of her books one of these days, to see. All Fall Down was distracting, but it won’t make it to my favorite’s shelf.
Ally Carter, All Fall Down, published by Scholastic Press, January 20th 2015.
This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.
Now, at age sixteen, she’s come back to stay–in order to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.