Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday Reviews: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Title: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Format Read: Hardback
Rating: Two stars

Description from Goodreads: A new series of global proportions-- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

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 haunt 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.

I met Ally Carter last March at NTTBF. I heard her speak on panels and watched her signing line reach out through the door. Her pitch of her novel, ALL FALL DOWN, had caught my interest, but for whatever reason I didn't leave the festival that day with the book. Later that year, Ally was one of the attending authors at Anderson's Literature Conference, and I heard her talk about the upcoming release of the second book in the Embassy Row series, but I didn't leave Lit Conf with an Ally Carter book, either. Now, I find out that she's going to be at a festival that I'm going to, and I decided that this was it. So I went out and bought the book, devoured it in two days, and now... I'm not sure how I feel.

Throughout the book, I had a big problem connecting to the characters. They just weren't touching me, emotionally, and I could never figure any of them out. Generally, I'd say that's a good thing in a mystery novel-- not knowing who has good intentions and who has bad intentions is the thing that really makes a mystery intense and suspenseful. But in this case, there was no character that I was attached to, so I wasn't caught off guard by the inevitable betrayal, and I wasn't rooting for anyone in particular. This is something that bothered me, as character connections are the things that really sell me on a book.

As for the plot. I was all with it, loved the process of introduction to the plot points and characters, was easily following one point to another, and I thought I had it pegged. Most of the time, I'm great with figuring out plots-- untwisting and untwining them until I know how everything will play out-- but with this one, I had myself double guessing my choice, and then my backup choice, and it turns out that both of them were wrong. And what ended up being the truth, while extremely interesting, I didn't feel was thought out well enough. It seemed haphazard and thrown together, and it didn't make me feel anything. The entire ending seemed rather odd to me. Like it happened too quickly to make everything mesh well together.

I give ALL FALL DOWN two stars, though I will be reading the second one to see how things play out, because I need to see what's going on with this story. Even though I didn't enjoy it, I have to give it a second shot, because something about this first book just doesn't add up.

It actually felt as if I were reading a Middle Grade novel.

Ally Carter fans, did you feel that this was poorly executed? 


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