Ally Carter books are light romps, light and breezy but relentlessly fun. I typically pick one up and blow through it overnight. All Fall Down, the first of a new series, was the first book by Carter that I didn’t finish. I don’t know what it was specifically about this that bothered me but something kept me from picking it up whenever I had time to read and that is never a good sign. This book is the first of hers that I would call poorly executed.
We begin the story in sunny Adria, the seat of a number of Embassies for foreign diplomats. Grace has traveled to live with her grandfather, a powerful Ambassador. Her Father is in the military and she has had to move around frequently because of his work. Her mother died in a fire a few years ago. Grace doesn’t believe her mother’s death was innocent; she thinks her mother was murdered. The problem is that no one else believes her, not even her grandfather. Grace is determined to prove everyone wrong even if it means hunting down her killer, a man with a disfiguring scar on his face.
The book works for the lighter end of Young Adult. The problem is that so much of Carter’s story is trite and her follow-through poor. There is little that makes Grace interesting even with a potentially decent premise. I spent over 250 pages with her and I feel like I don’t know her at all. The only thing I know about her is that she is a “trouble-maker”, something Carter spends more time telling me rather than showing me. The rest of the time Grace spends creeping through darkened hallways and into places that she should not be. It gets old really fast and does little to endear her to me. I didn’t care about her conflict. I found her whiny and boring and far from Carter’s usual standards.
Most of the characterization in this is off. I enjoyed Noah, a son of two countries, but his dynamics against Grace were still not entertaining enough to hold my attention. The power dynamics with Rosie, Megan, and Lila (Noah’s sister) are little more than irritating interactions meant to mimic high school. I am guessing that Alexei is supposed to be the love interest, though the chemistry between him and Grace was so lukewarm that it barely is worth mentioning. I suspect that Noah might also become a potential love interest later in the series as well; a love triangle seems like the best hope for this and that is sort of sad statement overall.
I wanted to love it but I just didn’t. I read enough to let me know that I wouldn’t continue on with this series and once I realized that I just couldn’t do this book anymore. So sad that it was such a miss.
2 out of 5 stars.
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