All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)
Author: Ally Carter
Publication: January 20th, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Kindle Edtion, 325 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Mental Health
Read: November 2016
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.
Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
The plot of this book was really mysterious and intense. It was really slow and sometimes it was kind of boring to be honest. The setting was really unique and there were lots of twists and turns throughout the story. I feel like this whole book was just set up for something bigger to come. There were a lot of positives but I just didn’t end up enjoying it as much as this author’s other books.
Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
It’s very simple and easy to read. This particular book has a slow to medium pace but also really intense writing style. It got kind of confusing at times since it had the tendency to get repetitive a lot. Some of the narrative felt light and kind of young for YA, but at the same time, it was really emotional too.
Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
I think this is the part that I enjoyed the least in the book. I have a lot of issues with the main character and the side characters and their development and it’s really disappointing since the characters have always been my favorite part of these author’s series.
Grace is one of the most unreliable narrators that I’ve ever come across in YA. She’s very paranoid and angry. She’s dealt with a lot of trauma and mental health issues in the last three years. She’s suffering from a lot of emotional wounds and she pushes people away because of that. She can be kind of rude and she really frustrated me because I felt like she purposely dragged her feet through what could’ve been really great and supportive relationships around her.
I was really disappointed with the side characters. There was a really big cast involved in this book but I felt like they weren’t fleshed out enough. They were only there like 10% of the time and they wasn’t enough interaction between them and the side characters. They should’ve been instrumental for Grace, but they didn’t even spend that much time together on page.
I have to say that I was a little disappointed by this book because it’s not similar to the author’s other works at all, and I wasn’t really expecting the story that I read.
The plot was mysterious. We follow Grace, a girl who says at the age of 13 she saw her mother killed but no one believed her. Three years later, she’s back in Adria where her mother grew up. There she discovers who she knows is her killer and is determined to get to the truth. This book was a lot more emotionally intense than I was expecting. Most of Carter’s books are light, action packed but entertaining contemporary thriller that have espionage and thieving and girls kicking ass and taking names in different ways. This one is a lot heavier than that and much more than I was originally expecting. I’m sure to laughing out loud with her books and to become completely invested in the story because of how much fun I’m having, but this one was much more dramatic and angsty than I’m used to. The main character is dealing with a lot of trauma which affects her narrative which made me anxious. Her thought process is very intense and emotional and inconsistent and that just kind of wound me up in a negative way. There were constant twists and turns and unexpected developments which usually keep me hooked in a story, but with this book, there was also a lot of slow and boring parts. I think because I was expecting something more lighthearted, the dark themes of the story took me off guard and they just didn’t affect me the way that I think it was supposed to. I wasn’t as interested in what was going on, I didn’t connect with the main character as well and it just felt a little bit underwhelming for me. The book just felt like it was setting up for the upcoming books and that it couldn’t really stand on it’s own. It wasn’t a complete story by itself and the cliffhanger kind of ending only solidified that feeling for me. It was cruel and unexpected and that’s the only reason this book has that .5 added to the rating. The last few chapters were really intense and that’s pretty much the only thing that kept me interested in continuing the series.
Grace is really suffering. I don’t like to use that word a lot, specially because there’s a lot of mental health struggles that she goes through but emotionally, she really is suffering. It’s been 3 years but she’s haunted by the death of her mother and almost obsessed with proving to everyone that she was killed and that she knows who the killer is. I had a soft spot for her, I felt for her and yet I was frustrated with her but I also don’t feel like I know her beyond the trauma. The narrative is so saturated with this part of who she is, that I can’t really tell you much more about her personality. It’s just this dark cloud that surrounds everything she does throughout the whole story and while I understood why, it made it really hard to connect with her because I can only connect with that so far as I have never lost anyone close to me, let alone been present when it happened like with her. I wanted more from Grace and unfortunately, she’s my least favorite protagonist from this author’s work.
There are several side characters in this book but again, unfortunately, I don’t feel like I know them very well either beyond certain characteristics. I really liked Noah, he was really sweet. He has a kind of earnest personality that contrasts well with Grace’s seriousness and I’m glad he’s a character in this book. However, I don’t know him beyond simple things: he has a twin sister, he’s Brazilian and Israeli and he likes soccer… That’s pretty much it. I want to see more from him (this is kind of my thought for every character in this book). Megan was an awesome badass. I loved how she took after her mom and the way she kind of took control of situations. Rose is super adorable, she’s the youngest character in the book but the most rambunctious and dare devil one. I loved her tenacity and her spirit. There’s also Alexei who I have a feeling will become the love interest at some point. However, he’s kind of strange to me. I don’t really know much about him at all, he’s only in this book for a few scenes but Grace sure thinks about him a lot. One good thing that I really liked about this book is how there are parental/adult characters present throughout the whole story. The characters do go around and get into mischief on their own, but it doesn’t last long without some adult intervention and help which is definitely something needed in more YA books.
Overall, I was disappointed in this book. Because I’ve loved and cherished the author’s earlier series, I had specific expectations for this book and it wasn’t at all like I thought it was going to be. The plot was kind of dark and intense and the main character was an unreliable narrator. She’s dealing with a lot of difficult and powerful emotions which made the book tumultuous but didn’t really help me connect to the story or to her or to the rest of the side characters. The ending was cruel and totally out of the blue and one of the only reasons I want to read the next book.
So that’s it for this post! I would love to know if any of you have read this book and if it was your first experience into Ally Carter’s writing. I kind of think that the people who read this book first before the earlier series like this one better than those ones. Let me know what you all think of my thoughts if you even took the time to read this haha. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!