Friday, 4 December 2015

Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Title: All Fall Down
Series: Embassy Row #1
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: February 5th, 2015
Genres: Young adult, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

All Fall Down (Embassy Row, #1)
Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay - in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.
Ally Carter was one of my favourite authors as a young girl, and at the tender age of twelve I was utterly enamoured by the first few instalments of her Gallagher Girl's series. Carter's books ignited in me that same spark of adventure and curiosity I'd found in stories such as Nancy Drew (duh) and Veronica Mars (which, now that I think about it, I was probably too young to be watching.)

The premise pegged All Fall Down as an action-packed and thrilling tale of political espionage and global conspiracy. I'm not even kidding when I say I went into it expecting events that would lead to World War III. And though I absolutely loved this book, there was hardly as much ass-kicking as I had hoped. Actually, there wasn't a whole lot. While slightly similar in feel to both Carter's previous series, All Fall Down deals with a much darker kind of mystery. Which definitely wasn't a bad thing.

Grace Blakely isn't like any of Ally Carter's previous protagonists. Cammie Morgan was a covert operative and Kat Bishop an international art thief. Grace Blakely is for the most part, your average American teenaged girl. Well, except for the part where her grandfather is a US Ambassador and her mother was murdered right before her eyes. I can't say that's very normal. Embassy Row has been without Grace for three years, and now she's back, with a vengeance. Grace is determined to finally uncover the truth about her mother's death, which had been labelled an 'accident' despite her efforts to convince everyone it was murder.

For a reason I can't identify, I was incredibly sympathetic towards Grace's situation. I rooted for her, I really did. I was infuriated when others were so quick to dismiss her theories, and I wanted to track down the Scarred Man myself. I was actually quite surprised with the approach Ally Carter took to Grace's character. I'd expected a bit of a rebellious girl who was constantly causing trouble because of the common teenage things such as boys. What we received instead was an incredibly traumatised and PTSD suffering girl.

Her entire story made me want to weep for her, she had developed an obsession with finding her mother's murderer and part of me felt like it was the only way she'd come to terms and be at peace with what had happened. Her constant attempts to catch the Scarred Man were admirable, but on a couple of occasions, incredibly stupid. I felt like at some points she was just begging to be caught and killed.

When I'd found out the truth about her mothers death I was shocked beyond words. I'd had a little bit of an inkling that it might have been what happened, but I didn't think Ally Carter would put us through so much pain. It was so heartbreaking to learn such information and Grace's reaction was so genuine that I did shed a couple of tears. A couple meaning like a couple buckets full.

At first my face was like this:
 photo Freaking out_zpsjq9qzh7x.gif

And then it turned into this:
 photo Hermione Crying and denial_zpse6rj9swf.gif

Though the politics wasn't the primary aim of the plot, I thought it was excellent to see Grace considering the implications her actions would have on her grandfather's work - but also on her nation's reputation. It's very refreshing to read a protagonist who isn't completely oblivious to the consequences of their actions and actually takes the time to think about how their behaviour could affect the safety of others. It kept things very tense, and knowing that the tiniest slip up from Grace could potentially cause a war, kept me on my toes and in suspense.

If there's one thing I admire about Ally Carter's writing it is the way she is able to create such a genuine atmosphere. Each of novels takes place in a magnificently imagined setting and the world in which these characters lived is incredibly constructed. It's one of those cases where these things are far fetched in terms of real life, but they fit so well with the stories that don't seem at all unusual within these novels. She doesn't make a big deal of things, her writing is beautifully simplistic and I feel that plays a large part in keeping the setting believable. This novel is no different. One of my favourite things about this novel was Embassy Row itself - the entire concept of it. It was so wonderful to see such a diverse mix of cultures contained within one environment - and I feel it really spices things up a little, as opposed to being completely white-washed.

That being said, I adored the cast of secondary characters in this novel. They were all so incredibly genuine in their behaviours and their personalities, their dialogue was hilarious too. I was especially fond of Noah, Grace's self-appointed 'official' best friend. He was so supportive and trusting of her from the beginning, he didn't need to be convinced she wasn't crazy, he'd support her anyway. And of course I loved that there wasn't anything romantic between them. Meghan was not my favourite, I thought at the beginning her part was a little bit cliché, but I softened up to her towards the end and did feel a little sorry for her, considering how Grace had unknowingly treated her unfairly. Rosie was the little rambunctious and adventurous one, her character just made me so happy. She was just a curious little girl who loves to explore. I think we can all slightly relate to that.

CAN WE TALK ABOUT ALEXEI FOR A MOMENT. HOLY HECK WAS HE BEAUTIFUL. I think I have a thing for Russian boys? They're so darn charming. I can't handle it. He was so darn charming! Did I already mention that? The conversations between Alexei and Grace tore through my heart, especially towards the end. It was kind of cliché, him being her brother's best friend and being asked to watch over her but then watching over her because he'd developed feelings for her, but ALAS, I WAS COMPLETELY TAKEN BY HIM. I think it was the things he didn't say to her that got me good. Because, God knows there were a lot of things he didn't say that we all knew he was thinking and safdghjkl. There was definitely chemistry between the two, although understandably, Grace was preoccupied with trying to find her mother's killer so she was slightly oblivious to the sparks that were flying. I can't wait to see more of Alexei, and hopefully*crosses fingers* more of them in the next book.

Ally Carter has brought us another incredible novel. All Fall Down was an action-packed and thrilling tale that had hints of political espionage and a whole lot of emotional matter. It features a diverse mix of lovable characters and cultures as well as being fast-paced and suspenseful. It kept me on my toes the entire time and it'll probably leave you flailing with feels, trust me on that one. I can't wait to see what she has in store for the next installment, but I have a feeling it's going to be epic.

4.5/5 keys to my heart!


  1. Unfortunately I didn't like this one but I'm happy you did! :)

  2. I know some people had some mixed opinions, I'm sorry you didn't like it! Like everything else, it's all up to personal preference. Personally, I loved it, but I can definitely see why you might feel otherwise.


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