Grace hasn’t seen her grandfather in three years; three years since she has been back to Embassy Row; three years since her world fell apart. Being an Army Brat, she can handle herself, but what she can’t handle is the pity in people’s eyes; the look that she gets every time she tries to tell someone that the Scarred Man killed her mother. The look that says: You’re crazy.
Upon receiving All Fall Down, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was more of a spontaneous purchase than a planned one. I was on the phone to my mum while she was out grocery shopping – and all good supermarkets have a book section – so asked her to check what books they had – I really can’t resist. She was listing off all the books and the only one that really caught my attention was All Fall Down. The cover was not what I was expecting. I thought, This isn’t the cover I’ve seen online – it was in fact the same book though. I don’t love this particular cover but I’m reviewing the book, not the cover, so I won’t go into my reasons for not liking it. Although I had no idea what to expect, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
This particular cover gives the wrong impression, I think, of what this book is really about; unless you read the blurb which talks of murder and revenge, than you may get the impression that it is a cutesy contemporary – there is nothing wrong with this, I don’t want to seem snobby, but there’s more to it. This book had me thoroughly engrossed. For the most part it was a really easy read; some people may consider this a bad thing, but it’s really not. You get swept along for the ride and now that I’ve finished reading, I’m really missing it.
Grace has returned to Embassy Row – basically a neighbourhood filled with houses belonging to various foreign diplomats, in a country called Adria, which is an important European country – to live with her grandfather, due to her father having been deployed overseas. Grace isn’t the same person she was the last time she was in Adria. Now every day she is haunted by the memory of a burning building; a man with a scar; the death of her mother. Embassy Row fascinates me; all those houses belonging to other countries and all the different people from there… I’m just so intrigued. I thought this was a really interesting setting.
I really liked the characters. Grace is witty and strong and I really felt for her. Shes been through so much and is hell-bent on finding the man she saw on the night her mother died. It’s great that she is outspoken and says things like:
“‘He said man stuff,’ I tell her as we walk away.
‘He did indeed, dear.’
‘Are you OK with that? Tell me you are not OK with the phrase man stuff.’
‘I am not,’ she says through a too-bright smile.
‘But Queen Catalina bided her time and ruled for sixty years, my dear.’
‘So you’re going to kill the Prime Minister in his sleep?’ I ask.”
The line below, in particular, choked me up a bit.
“‘No! I need to go home,’ I say, but then the realization comes: my mother was my home. My mother is dead.”
Grace is not the only person I liked either; Noah, for example, is amazing. He christens himself her new best-friend – she could really do with a friend – and is just really funny and sweet. I want him to be my best-friend – someone find me a Noah, please!
“It’s a shame. It’s the only embassy with private beach access. I tried to talk our ambassador into buying it, but for some reason the Israelis didn’t think the Iranians would be up for a real estate swap.’
‘Fancy that,’ I tell him.
Noah gasps in mock surprise. ‘I know!'”
I was really surprised by Megan – read it and you’ll know why – and Alexei… I really liked Alexei. For some reason I was drawn towards him and hope we get to see more of him. He is kind of a love interest for Grace – well, I predict it’s coming anyway – but I love that Ally Carter didn’t throw too much of this into the story as I feel it would have taken away from the story instead of adding something. Carter weaved it all together beautifully.
At times, I found it a little funny and difficult to take these teenagers seriously as they’re running around trying to take down an assassin – it was a little Nancy Drew-like – but in no way hindered my enjoyment of it. There was mystery, intrigue and plot twists – which I loved! I do however wish it was a little more…gritty. We’re dealing with murder, people, but I do understand that there is only so far an author can go with this age range.
Touching, funny and guaranteed plot twists. A book you shouldn’t miss! I couldn’t put it down.