Sunday, 15 March 2015

Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Title: All Fall Down
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 306
Source: Purchased from Berkelouw Books.
This book saved my life because: in the beautiful setting of a foreign country Ally Carter sets up the gripping tale of a girl whose life mission is finding what happened to her mother. It was a beautiful story of family relations in a political setting with great twists and turns that left me desperate for the next book.

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her - so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands. Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because  on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

I was super excited to read Ally Carter's new book, as I have loved everything she has written so far. And All Fall Down was not a disappointment. The book follows the main character Grace, who is adamant to find out who killed her mother. It takes place in the made-up country Adria, on what Carter terms 'Embassy Row', the area in which all the embassy's to Adria are located.

I loved the concept of an Embassy Row, as it provided an amazing setting for the book. It opened up many opportunities for political conflict with many different nationalities. Also, by creating a new country (Adria) Carter could give the allure and beauty of a foreign and beautiful place where anything could happen. This also allowed for many of the characters, especially the friends Grace makes, to be different nationalities and really made the story interesting.

“Mom’s Israeli. Dad’s Brazilian. What can I say? I am Embassy Row personified. You really lucked out in the best friend department”  

One of the brilliant aspects of this novel was the way that Ally Carter deals with mental illness. In a dramatic turn of events, it is revealed that Grace has been struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And I loved how the whole book was leading up to this point. Their were clues along the way to point towards this, such as Grace's reckless behaviour, her utter fixation on finding her mother's killer, and what I thought was the most unnerving - Grace having 'sworn' she had seen her mother's killer many times before. Those instances were written so well, as Carter wove Grace's character as one that was almost slightly untrustworthy. I love that while I was reading the whole time I was rooting for Grace, but also realised there was something up with her character.

“No! I need to go home," I say, but then the realization comes: My mother was my home. My mother is dead.”  

Something I think that is not realised by many readers of this book is the way family is represented in this book. Grace is propelled by the love for her mother to find out what happened to her. She will not let go of finding out what happened. Also, her relationship with her grandfather, who her relationship develops throughout the book. Even in the background you have the constant mention of her brother Jamie (who I hope shows up in the next book) and even her father. This shows that family plays an important role in Grace's life. I love how family was important in the unfurling of the book.

One drawback that I found to the book, however, was the ending. The entirety of the book there is a feel that there is something going on that Grace doesn't know about, in addition to the mystery of her mother's murder. And at the end there is only a semi-confirmation of this. It is confirmed to Grace that her mother was killed for a reason, and she discovers what appears to be a secret room. However, it is not confirmed what the purpose of the room is, nor what Grace's mother was involved in (spies? political espionage?). This isn't saying that I don't love a cliff-hanger, but I feel like it could have been left hanging while still leaving the reader like they knew where the series is heading.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I read it all in one day as I could not put it down, I had to keep on reading. I can't wait for the next book, and to see what Grace is going to be involved in, as well as hopefully solving the issue of her mother's murder.

xx Viv

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