Thursday, January 29, 2015

Audiobook Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Title: All Fall Down
Series: Embassy Row #1
Author: Ally Carter
Published: January 20, 2015 by Scholastic
(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)

Synopsis: A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter. 

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.

WOW! This was another book that was not at all what I expected and I mean that in a good way. I haven't read much Ally Carter but I do have a frame of reference. I enjoyed the first two books in the Gallagher Girls series but didn't continue reading them for no particular reason. I loved how lighthearted and fun the writing was. I loved the quirky and likable characters. I loved the action and adventure. And while this book was full of action and adventure with quirky and interesting characters it was far from lighthearted and fun.

All Fall Down is a YA Psychological Thriller, it's a serious book. It handles serious and complex issues that I was not at all expecting. I went into this book expecting a murder mystery. A teenage detective determined to find out the truth about her mother's mysterious death. But what I got was a broken girl trying to put her life back together and find answers to questions that she seems to be the only one asking. Grace is not the strong female protagonist that seems to populate most Young Adult novels these days. Sure she is plucky and sarcastic, tough and intelligent but she there is so much more to her than that. I connected with Grace right away and her sass and her hunt for justice. But she can be best explained by her weaknesses. She spends a lot of the book telling us she's not crazy despite what everyone thinks. But actions speak louder than words and Grace tends to be reckless and rash. She acts without thinking and puts herself and others in all kinds of danger. Maybe it's been awhile since I read a book with a heroine who is incredibly far from perfect but I found this aspect of her character to be incredibly refreshing. And I also found her character development to be shocking, which I seriously loved.

Another aspect of the book that I wasn't expecting but really enjoyed was the political intrigue or should I say the threat of political intrigue. All Fall Down takes place in this part of the world called Atria, a Mediterranean principality with historical and strategic significance. Ally did a great job of setting the scene for this beautiful and historic locale. It seemed like a place I would want to visit. The city that Grace is in is populated by international embassies and the majority of it's residents are diplomats and their families. In Atria Ally Carter creates a world that perfectly fits with the mysterious plot of the book. It's a place where you have to be careful what you say and do because there can and will be consequences not just for you. And if you just read what I said about Grace you know how hard that is for her.

If that sounds vague, that is because I'm trying to be as vague as possible. I cannot say much about the plot without giving a lot of the book away. And I wouldn't want to do that to you because that would really ruin a lot of the books charm. Just know that I was incredibly blown away by the twists in this book. I really thought I had it all figured out. The mystery seemed to be obvious and basic but it definitely is not. The book is full of action and adventure and an amazing ending that I'm still not 100% over. I had to take a minute to process it all and I really did come up with many answers. I need the next book in the series stat!

I really loved this book and was incredibly blown away by it but it wasn't perfect. In particular I had issues with the pacing. It didn't hook me immediately and then built to some really exciting moments that had me on the edge of my seat only to drag me back down again. I was starting to feel like things were dragging again only to be suddenly thrust into a shocking twist that came completely out of left field. The pacing was choppy and irregular. It was a roller coaster ride that added to the confusion and suspense of the book in a way that I didn't totally enjoy. But it didn't totally ruin the story for me, which a lot of times the pacing can.

On the whole I really enjoyed All Fall Down. It was a captivating read with interesting characters and tons of suspense. It perfectly lent itself to the audiobook format and I couldn't believe how quickly I listened to this audio. The narrator captured Grace's brash attitude, her stubbornness, and her uncertainty as the book developed. She also did an excellent job of making Atria seem realistic and visual. But my favorite part is that she really captured the voice of the different cast of characters. These characters are cosmopolitan and international and she captured it perfectly.

I give All Fall Down by Ally Carter 9 out of 10


Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. This was a great read and a first book in a series that I enjoyed more than I expected to. Fans of Ally Carter should check this out. I'd say her books are maturing with her audience as this one has her trademark adventure but is much more serious in tone. Fans of YA Thriller will also enjoy the twists and turns that Ally takes us on.

Have you read All Fall Down? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

4 comments:

  1. This is on my TBR. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Great review :)

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    1. Thanks! I hope you like it too when you read it.

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  2. I love mystery/thrillers, and I really like the sound of All Fall Down! Grace sounds like a really interesting character - I like characters that are a bit different from the norm, so it sounds perfect for me :) Glad you enjoyed it, and great review! I'll definitely be trying to read it soon :)

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    1. Grace is definitely an interesting character that is different from the norm. I really liked her voice but I can see how it wouldn't be for everyone. I hope you add it to your TBR and that you like it.

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