Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Release date: January 27th, 2014
Series: Yes, #1 in the Embassy Row series
Length: 320 pages
Rating:While I get the feeling this won't be my fave Ally Carter book (it's surprisingly heavy), it's a start to what could be a great series
Grace 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.
This is my first Ally Carter book, and while I can tell it's probably not as fun as her usual books, I also know that I very much want to read the others. Her style is really fun and funny full of intrigue. This wasn't a standout to me, but I'm definitely a Carter fan in the making. (Also... WHOA does the book end right before all the answers and just when things are getting super twisty! NO FAIR.)
I was expecting lightness and fun-ness and spy-ness from this book, going off what I know about her others. This probably colored my expectations (I wasn't really in the mood for trauma and darkness and psychological thrillery bits), so while I was surprised by how dark this book was, I do think Carter pulled it off. Was it my favorite ever thing? No. Does the (way too short!) book leave off in a place that is oh-so-very intriguing? Yes!
All Fall Down is about Grace, whose mom is dead and whose dad is in the army and who's just been shipped off to live with her grandfather, the US ambassador to the made up country of Adria. (I mean, it's made up to us. Not to them. It's a legit country in the book.) Grace was a very vivid character. She's rebellious, outspoken, and hiding a world of hurt. When she was thirteen, she witnessed her mother's murder...only no one believes her. They say she died in a fire, in an accident, but Grace knows what she saw, and she saw a man with a scar shoot her mom.
This added an interesting (though, I hate to say it, kind of unwelcome because again, I was in the mood for a leeetle less tragedy) layer to the story. What I loved best about the story was the setting. The US embassy is on this street in the Adrian capital crammed full of embassies. It's the hub of precarious political activity and a ton of international kids and it was a place totally ripe for storytelling. There are SHENANIGANS AFOOT, and Grace is just the kind of daredevil character who flings herself into trouble head on. Grace sees the man who shot her mother and becomes determined to unravel the truth. Plus, shaaaaady business happening all up in the Adrian government.
|I have NO IDEA what this is|
Plus there are fun characters around, like Grace's new best friend Noah (NOAH! <3333), half-Brazilian and half-Israeli; Megan, the American girl Grace used to not get along with in childhood; and Alexei, aka the Russian hottie next door who's best friends with Grace's older brother hellooooo there Alexei heyyyyy
Grace's trauma is really well done. It is. And I feel like a jerk for saying that it got really old, because it was realistic and I really hurt for the girl and and I got where she was coming from. I REALLY LIKED Grace as a character, but I guess I disliked how completely the plot was derailed for her grief episodes. NOT TO SAY I disliked her grieving, because, again, she felt like a real character and real characters are total messes. I guess it was just there was so much cool spyness and ambassadorness happening... or that COULD have been happening...and it was barely touched on in this one. I think it goes back to my expectations. All Fall Down focuses a lot on Grace coming to terms with the truth of her mom's death. There's a lot of psychology and trauma and whatnot.
As for the characters, Noah is the best, and I really loved Grace. She's kind of brash and "unlikable", and I loved being in her head. This book kinda cuts off just before all the answers, but it's also really short. I'm for sure going to read the next one. I have a feeling that one will be a bit more Gallagher Girls-y with the kids spy-ing it up and saving the world and less psychological tragedy.