Thursday, April 9, 2015

Jenn's Review: All Fall Down

Author: Ally Carter
Series: Embassy Row #1
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 320
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  YA
Rating: 3.5
Bottom Line: An underwhelming start to a new series
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Just get it at the library
Blurb: 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.

Review:  I adore Ally Carter's books and couldn't wait for this one to come out.  Both Heist Society and Gallagher Girls are series I love so much that I enjoy re-reading them.  I was desperate to love the Embassy Row series too, the setting is fascinating, the premise has promise, but so far I just don't.

From the blurb, you know going into this that Grace is not a reliable narrator.  That would be okay if there was an anchor provided by the other characters but her friends flitted in and out of the story too much, mostly because Grace was busy pushing them away.   I think I was most disappointed with the lack of character development for the surrounding cast --- Ally Carter always has such a fascinating array of supporting characters and I felt as if I barely got to know them, which is a shame because it would have helped the story immensely.

The pace of the book went from frenetic to stumbling.  Perhaps it was meant to portray Grace's state of mind but it only succeeded in frustrating me.  I felt for Grace but I can't say that I ever connected to her character.  I understand that Grace is suffering from post traumatic stress, along with a myriad of other things, but she is out of control and there isn't a single adult in her life that steps in to take care of her.  (In fact, her grandfather puts her in her dead mother's unchanged bedroom!  That's not just negligent, it's cruel.)  Yes, her family is grieving too and at least they got her therapy but that was obviously not enough.  Without giving away the plot twist I will say that keeping the truth from her was not the best policy.  Especially when, after more than a year, they can see that it's not only not working it's making things worse.

The plot twist at the end comes suddenly and unravels everything in a snap.  I was more than a little incredulous over where things ended.  It was the ending of the book that solidified my interest in the rest of the series.  But the fact that the hook came in the last chapter reinforced the pervasive feeling that this book was just plot exposition for the rest of the series.  In retrospect, I suppose the first book of the Gallagher Girls series could also be considered in the same manner, but that was a far more enjoyable read than All Fall Down.  If anyone can pull this series together it's Ally Carter, so I will still be pre-ordering my next Embassy Row installment, but overall, I was underwhelmed.



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