All These Things I've Done (Birthright)
This how I imagine the pitch for this book went down.
Publisher: What's it about?
Gabrielle Zevin: Well, it's about Prohibition but in the future.
Zevin: Where chocolate and coffee has been banned--
Publisher: (starts to nod off)
Zevin: In a future dystopian society a crime boss' daughter falls in love with a district attorney's son, the two are star-crossed lovers... and... Romeo & Juliet... and... paper is scarce!
Zevin: And there's gonna be killin'. Lots of killin'!
Anya (who also goes by Annie, Miss Balanchine, and a plethora of other names) is the main character in this one. Her boyfriend, well, new boyfriend (who also has a bunch of different names)* is the secondary character.
I mention this because I will be calling them First and Second from now on. First meets Second at school, First and Second fall in love, First and Second try to hide their secret and forbidden love. First and Second fail at hiding their secret love. First and Second do absolutely nothing the entire book.
Like, I mean, seriously. Nothing. All These Things I've Done? This is another Britney Spears "Oops I Did It Again" moment. Britney, you never told us what you did the first time. First and Second, you didn't do anything!
All First and Second do is flirt and get out of trouble--because they haven't done anything. They do not traffic chocolate, they do not imbibe illegal substances, they do not eat green eggs and ham, Sam I am. So I am left to wonder: what the fuck did Anya/Annie/Ann/Balanchine do?
ATTID (I'm tired of typing it out) is a classy teen novel set in a future full of vintage clothing and limited resources. A future where the police don't do much policing. A future where it's an adults job to (once again) stop kids from canoodling. Because who needs a bunch of canoodling kids?
Things I did like because I'm rambling on like this is the worst book ever? The Romeo & Juliet references, the throw-back to a granny saying OMG and the kids not knowing what it means, the handicapped brother (because there's always a handicapped brother)**, Gabrielle Zevin's ability to write a mean sentence and tell a good mob story.
Even though the First and Second characters do nothing but hold hands the entire book, Zevin delivers a back history (which is really just our history but from the perspective of the future--genius!) that's both compelling and rich. Zevin might have banned chocolate and coffee, but really, those are just metaphors for, erm, I have no idea.
Three Out of Five Fucks Given
*Seriously, I can't pronounce half the names in this book correctly.
**Where the hell did this trend come from?
Note: Obligatory link to The Killers - All These Things I've Done.