Friday, February 13, 2015

Me on All Fall Down

Title: All Fall Down
Author: Ally Carter
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press

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.

All Fall Down is filled with mystery and international intrigue. Grace is on a mission. She knows someone killed her mother and no one will stop her from from finding the person responsible.

Grace is... interesting. Unhinged? Reckless but afraid. Snide and snarky but apologetic. It's like we see bits of the person she was mixed with bits of the person she is now. She's unable to move on after seeing her mother murdered, which is both good and bad. It's good that she isn't willing to give up, that she's determined, but it's not good because of how obsessed she is with finding the killer. But who else will? No one is really supporting her, not really, not in the way she needs. In the beginning she doesn't have anyone to lean on. They're all there to keep her safe, keep her out of trouble, but that doesn't quite translate into them helping her.

There's something that bothers me about some of the people in Grace's life. I didn't get the feeling that they wanted to help her. Some do, during the course of the book, but some don't. Those people think she'll get over it, that she's just acting out, that she's paranoid or lying. They can't see that she's suffering, that she needs help. It's a mix of her psychological problems, her stress disorder and anxiety attacks, and some people don't see that. Part of it is on Grace for thinking she can handle everything on her own, but part of it is on the people who say they care about her. She doesn't need fancy parties with important diplomats. She needs someone who trusts that what she says is true. And probably a therapist.

The setting is interesting. It's a different country with a dark past and secrets under its streets, but it's also American in the embassy, in Grace and the others who live and work there. Taking place on a street of different embassies in a foreign country, there's certainly a hint of tension in the air. It's certainly a strange feeling, being in such a strained environment, where any misstep could mean distrust or even war between countries.

This is a book with a lot of intrigue and tension. The stakes are so high here. One wrong move and a war could start. But while that is serious, it also, partially, sounds impossible. What would have to happen for a war to start? Of course, this might just be my inability to suspend my disbelief in this one instance, but I am curious as to what it would take in this series. I would recommend this to readers looking for some international intrigue in their contemporary YA, to readers looking for a broken but still hopeful heroine, and to fans of Ally Carter's previous books.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Scholastic Canada.)

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