Book Review – All Fall Down

Title: All Fall Down

Author: Ally Carter

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2015

I love Ally Carter’s books – I especially adore her Heist Society novels (about teenaged thieves), and am working my way through the Gallagher Girls (I got stalled and decided to start from the beginning again). I was fully expecting to love this book, but it wasn’t to be.

The main character, Grace, has had a tough few years – she saw her mother die and is convinced that she was murdered, but everybody around her tells her that her mother’s death was just an accident. Grace is convinced otherwise, and when she sees the man she is sure murdered him, she falls into an adventure that sends her all over the Embassy Row.

Grace as a character is very impulsive, something that admittedly turns me off somewhat. I prefer characters that think ahead, or when they get into situations over their head fall back onto some sort of experience and don’t just charge in (at least not all the time – but Grace’s default is “bull in a china shop” and it gets old fast). Some of this is understandable – she’s still processing what happened to her mother, and is experiencing flashbacks to boot, and therefore she’s trying to push those memories away, but it’s very painful to read.

One of the things that is consistent across Ally Carter’s books is to have character be able to do spy things well, which works fine in the Gallagher Girls books (they’re in training to be spies) and in the Heist Society books (they’re a family of thieves), however it feels somewhat contrived here. Grace is joined by several other Embassy Row teens and each of them has some ability that is helpful in trying to solve the mystery of what actually happened to Grace’s mother.

I loved the setting – Adira is a little country where many of the countries of the world have Embassies, which means that you can cause several international incidents by simply walking next door. It gives the world flavor without making the characters travel everywhere.

I’ll admit that I didn’t see the big plot twist coming, but I reached the end of the book feeling like strangling every adult character in it (somewhat like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). There comes a point where you need to just be an adult and TALK. In Grace’s case, I would have thought that this point was reached several years previously. (I mean, seriously, when I agree with the villain, something’s wrong.)

I liked the minor characters in this – Noah, Megan, Rosie, Mrs. Chancellor – and look forward to seeing more of their histories unfold in further books, especially now that Grace has solved the mystery haunting her and can finally heal. (I’ll admit, I was expecting the secret about her mother’s true job all along, and was kind of disappointed that it only appears in the last page or so, but that does leave room for further books.)

I’ll give it a 3/5 pages – Grace annoyed me, but your mileage may vary, and everything she does is in character. Looking forward to the next books.

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