Author: Ally Carter
Series: Embassy Row (#1)
Read: January 13th
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books
Release Date: February 5th, 2015
Genre: contemporary, mystery
In short: very readable and fun, but lukewarm on the epic Ally scale. Hopefully that’s just the series getting started!
Goodreads: 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.
I squealed aloud when I got this ARC. I’ve been reading and loving Ally Carter’s books for five years now, and I couldn’t wait to start her new series. I read All Fall Down in one sitting, through the night. I wanted to love it so, so badly.
Mrrp. Maybe it was the expectations, but this book was kind of a letdown.
Grace is the granddaughter of the American ambassador to the fictional country Adria. She was raised on Embassy Row in the capital city, Valancia, until her mother’s antiques store blew up—right in front of her eyes. Years later Grace is back where she grew up and determined to find out what really happened the day her mother died. Along the way she makes several unlikely friends and allies, and learns that enemies are just as unlikely as friends. Interesting, right? But I have to say, it felt a little less original and whoa than the other Ally Carter books. I mean, teenage spies-in-training? A gang of thieves from a family of notorious international criminals? All Fall Down pales in front of Heist Society and Gallagher Girls. If you’re new to Ally, do not judge her by this one.
That’s not to say it wasn’t a good book. It was. Grace was fun to read about—headstrong, reckless, a bit of a daredevil—but again, she felt like the regular YA tough girl. Replace her with, say, Rose Hathaway or Susannah Simon, and the story wouldn’t have gone much differently. I did like that she sheds some of her prejudices on the way, though. The character development works. But it was too late to wipe away the faint dislike I felt in the beginning.
Not to mention the girl-on-girl hate and the absolutely unnecessary Meanie™ presence going on here with Lila. Grace’s friends, though, are much more fun than she is. I loved Noah, Megan (especially Megan! You go, girl!), and Rosie, and I was fairly entertained by Alexei (although I hope he doesn’t become the primary love interest. Nope. Nopenopenope.)
Thing is, the events of this book are much harder to believe considering that the characters are not spies-in-training or international criminals. I found myself thinking it was far too convenient for the gang to have the skill sets they did—just so the job could get done. And it did, way too easily. Grace etc. had no problem at all breaking-and-entering, snooping, hacking, spying, you name it! That, my friends, is a cop-out. If you wanted genius teenagers, then just write a series about kids from Mensa or something. This was unbelievable.
To conclude, this was fun and engaging, and it did keep me up reading. But it’s certainly not the best Ally Carter could do. I’ll keep an eye out for book 2 and hope it gets better from here!
I received a free galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.