Review: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter

9781408334379I am quite pleased with Ally Carter‘s latest book All Fall Down. I had high expectations since her NYT bestselling series, Gallagher Girls, is such an excellently hilarious series, but All Fall Down definitely stands on it’s own! It features Grace, snarky and bitter, and granddaughter of a powerful ambassador. Oh and she’s looking for her mother’s killer.

I admit! I was dubious at the beginning! The first 100-pages didn’t grab me and I was trembling in my fuzzy socks that the book would plummet into an untouchable basket. THEN IT WOWED ME.

Unlike Gallagher Girls, this new series is not about spies or espionage. It’s set in a made up country (like Genova from The Princess Diaries!) where there’s an entire street of embassy houses. So Israel, Brazil, Russia, USA, etc. are all door-to-door. Technically when you visit a house, you’re “in Russia”. Grace pretty  much has PTSD after witnessing her mother’s death. She’s convinced her mother was murdered by a scarred man. Basically she spends the entire book getting into raucous trouble, making bad decisions, snarking left-right-and-centre, and chasing after an elusive killer that no one (but her) believes is guilty.

Grace was a very dynamic character. But kind of hard to swallow at times because she was such a brat. The rudeness did make my eyeball twitch once or twice.
And the secondary characters?! Let us take a moment to hug their wonderfulness:

  • Noah: who is half Israeli and half Brazilian…He elects himself Grace’s Best Friend. It’s adorable. HE’S HILARIOUS.
  • Alexei: He’s Russian and was Grace’s older brother’s friend in the past (phewf that’s not complicated). He enters the book as Grace’s overbearing surrogate brother and he was kind of awful and domineering.
  • Megan: She’s like a computer genius.
  • Rosie: She’s a really smart 12 year old who knows everything, apparently, and is like a ninja when she sneaks after people.

The writing was fast and light and easy to read.  The tone could’ve been middle-grade even, if the characters had been 12+. (They acted that way…ahem.) But instead they’re 16 and dubiously immature at times. STILL. This is definitely a book younger teens will enjoy. Literally no swearing or heavy romance.

I did have a few quibbles. Not too many, though.

  • Grace is pretty rude and dismissive.
  • None of the female characters seemed as fleshed out or interesting as the boys.
  • Repetition. Eh, there was just a lot of repeating dialogue (like every third sentence is “ARE YOU OKAY, GRACE?” when obviously she’s not, or Grace saying “I’M NOT CRAZY” when maybe she is, just a little).

I enjoyed All Fall Down. The plot wasn’t fast-paced, but it was engaging and the cliffhanger was torture. I ADORE shocking endings and I sat there with my mouth impersonating a cod-fish. I have a lot of questions and I’m desperately hopeful the sequel will answer them.

“The obvious,” Noah goes on, a little out of breath, “being that he is probably some super secret assassin or something. And I’m not as tough as I look.”
“That’s OK,” I tell him. “I’m way tougher than you look.”