“Where Do We Begin/The Rubble or Our Sins?” GIVEAWAY + Early Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

January 12, 2015 / 18 Comments / Review, Uncategorized

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source/Format: ARC gifted to me by the lovely Sarah from You Should Read This! (thank you!)
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Expected publication date: January 27th 2015

Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | IndieBound | iTunes | Audible 

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 hunt 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.


So I know you’ll understand when I say that I only liked, and didn’t LOVE this book – but that I’m still breathlessly waiting for book two. 
Here’s the thing: when I first dove into the world of Embassy Row and All Fall Down, I was completely totally flummoxed. The writing and Grace, the main character, seemed off-balance and abrupt. I wasn’t sure what was happening. The pacing of this book was super-fast – even faster than in the Gallagher Girls and Heist Society books. Each chapter is fairly short – only a few pages, and I think this is Ally Carter trying to show the frenetic pace of Grace’s mind, which is bruised and broken, and unsure. It’s really well done, but – I won’t lie – I was stressed out for a lot of this book.
I mention this because you might want to put down All Fall Down in the first 50 pages or so. I did. Grace is a prickly girl, and she’s got a major chip on her shoulder from being the girl that always seemed too young or was told that she was too feminine to tag along with her older brother and his best friend. Frankly, she’s a bit unlikeable. Add to that the fact that you aren’t even sure whether you can believe her or not – because she can’t even be sure of the truth, and you’ve got one messed up main character. It actually reminded me a lot of GG #5 when Cammie is not sure who she is or what she’s done.
But once I got into it and used to the writing (about 100 pages in, but for some of you, it might be less), I did like this book. I grew to like and care about Grace, and as with Heist Society and Gallagher Girls, there’s a sort of oddball team of characters that surround Grace and bring special skills to the table. I won’t give away who’s on the team, but you can kind of guess, and it’s so nice seeing how friendships and relationships are slowly established on Embassy Row. They were a big part of why I liked All Fall Down in the end.
I think my biggest frustration with this book is that it felt like a prequel for the rest of the series. Ally Carter needed to establish the setting, the characters, the motives, and the writing style, and because of that, I feel like the narrative wandered a bit for two-thirds of the book. It was only in the end that I understood what she was trying to build and why.
Overall, I did like it, but more importantly, I think it needed to be written and read in order to move on with the rest of the series. I can almost guarantee that now that the set-up is there, book two will have us all just as hooked as we were with Gallagher Girls or Heist Society


It’s A Mystery: The action and pacing were very quick, and like in most mysteries or suspense thrillers, it had me guessing right until the very end – and I’m a guesser, so the fact that Ally Carter was, as usual, one step ahead of me right to the very end was a very good thing. I would say that the story here is less intricately twisted than Heist Society, but about as explosive as some of the early Gallagher Girls books.

“Canada House” by James F. – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Intricate World-Building: Ally has a way of creating a world that should feel foreign to her readers, but making it feel like home. They’re always worlds of intrigue and mystery, and they feel glamourous and dark at the same time. Adria is no different. I loved seeing its old world charm, its many embassies, and the secrets and red herrings that she left throughout the novel about the setting.

Strong and Weak Girls: The theme of the fragile teenage girl vs the strong teenager is really important in this book – and it’s a theme that Ally has spoken about at length in many interviews, saying that nobody is more underestimated than a teenage girl. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Grace, who has always been seen as a young girl who doesn’t know her own mind. That theme extends to whether people trust her as well, and whether she can be “contained” in her current state. It’s a fascinating theme, but it’s not one that really gets resolved in this book. I am curious to see whether it comes up again and as strongly in future books, because just the threads of it here made All Fall Down a stronger story. 

Book Theme Song: 

“Pompeii” by Bastille

“And the walls kept tumbling down / In the city that we love…And if you close your eyes / Does it almost feel like you’ve been here before?”

The Final Word:

I wanted to love All Fall Down, but in the end, I just liked it. The fact that it feels like a prequel for the rest of the series was big part of that. It’s not an easy book to read at times because you feel just as off balance and frustrated as Grace, but at the same time, it’s a book that you know you have to read in order to make this series a series worth reading. Stick with this series – I have no doubt that Ally will deliver a really good payoff if you do!

ALL FALL DOWN comes out January 27, 2015 and I have an extra ARC from Scholastic Canada to give away! As an #AllyAmbassador, I can think of nothing better than to share with you guys! Because this is coming out so soon, I’m doing a short giveaway, and US/Canada only so that I can get it to the winner on time. Good luck (and sorry, international readers, you know I love you!)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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18 responses to ““Where Do We Begin/The Rubble or Our Sins?” GIVEAWAY + Early Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

  1. It's funny you mention being frustrated over the fact that the MC has such a chip on her shoulder and is rather unlikeable because lately, I've been looking for a protagonist just like that to read, so you've already got me on board! Also, I've been starting to pick up more thrillers/mysteries lately, so now I'm doubly on board. Thanks for putting this book on my radar and for the giveaway!! 🙂

  2. I haven't read any Carter books, but I obviously need to fix that problem. I think the whole naming a character thing is so hilarious – I went back and read that post and it was so fun!! Sounds like this book is a good start to a new series. It'll be interesting to see how Carter develops it in future books.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  3. I've read all the Gallagher Girls books and also the Heist Society series. While I really like all of them, I really LOVE Hale, so I have to go with Heist Society over GG. It's a really tough choice, though! I can't wait to get my hands on this new series!

  4. I'm a huge fan of Ally Carter's previous series, so I've been waiting for this new series since the second Gallagher Girls ended. As a fan of Heist Society and GG, honestly, all I want from All Fall Down/Embassy Row are strong female protagonists, exciting adventure novels with amazing story lines. Ally Carter usually delivers, and this review sounds like it continues her tradition of amazing kickass heroines, fantastic worlds, and intricate and thrilling plots. I can't wait to read it. Thank you for this giveaway and this review.

  5. I grew up with Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series and have recently enjoyed her Heist Society series as well. I LOVE her books, which is why I am SO excited for this series. I'm a little less expectant now that I read your review, but I hope it gets better like you said. Thanks for the awesome giveaway and really great review! Also, love the idea of a book theme song. How cool is that?! 🙂

  6. I've never read a book by Ally Carter, but I have friends that ADORE her books. I do have the first book in the Gallagher Girls series on audio but I haven't gotten around to listening to it yet. 🙁 Thanks for the giveaway!

  7. Yeah, I have to agree with you that it felt like the collective gasp before the real story began. It was really fun, but I'm still partial to the Heist Society and Gallagher Girls. Great review!

  8. I thought it really interesting that you said it felt like a prequel to the rest of the series because I kinda felt the same way….I loved the book but it def felt like a prequel….lovely review!

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