Monday, 2 February 2015

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Super savvy spy-thriller by NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter. Need I say more?!

Recipe for kick-ass spy thriller:

5 spoonfuls of dark espionage
4 ounces of HOT Russian love interest
2 tsp of ambiguity

1 ounce of creative genius.

Stir generously and consume with care.

Oh, Carter, you've done it again...

All Fall Down  

is the first in Ally Carter's Embassy Row Series and starts off with a bang.

The story combines the joys of a good thriller with the right amount of fine-tuned conspiracy.

I must confess that I wasn't the biggest fan of the Heist Society books, for whatever unknown reason I couldn't quite connect to the characters. I tried and tried, but in the end decided to move on. I know, big, fat sigh.

Regardless, I was really excited for this one to hit the 'virtual' shelves. Everyone knows I'm sucker for a good spy-thriller with a kick-ass heroine. That stuff is like peanut butter cups to me; absolutely, IRRESISTIBLE.

The plot for All Fall Down is carefully crafted and impressed me with its solid characters.

The story begins with protagonist Grace. Her mother passed away and all she has left is her deployed military father. Ouch.
To say life has been tough for Grace would be an understatement at this point. She's soon sent away to start a new life with her Grandfather, a very well known US ambassador stationed in Adria.

Starting over is always tough, especially for a young woman, but doing so on an embassy block where tensions are always running high seems damn near impossible. Oh and, the last time she visited Embassy Row, her mother was murdered right before her eyes...and no-one seems to believe her.

Easy enough, right? Er... no.

The nightmares of her mothers murder return as soon as she arrives at the embassy. Haunted by dark memories, Grace is tormented by the images of her mothers brutal murder and with the pain comes the plan to avenge her mothers murder, once and for all. The only problem being, Grace is still considered a child...Especially around all those internationally trained professionals. With all that in mind, Grace sets out fulfil the task of her life: finding her mothers killer and restoring her honour.

Embassy Row:

I quite enjoyed the way Ally painted the Embassy. The reader very quickly feels that clinical feeling associated with visiting a hospital or the dentist, (Yeah, that one) and it is fantastic. I was hooked straight away.

Everyone is so cautious, so cold and so, so, bloody calculating. Just taking a breath while turning the page felt tense and almost too much. One false move and its over, right? Well, goodness me, I really loved it and if I'm honest, the way Carter set her scenes was just magnificent.

What I had a little difficulty with were the constant flashbacks. Granted, the majority was necessary to establish a little more of Grace's background, but for me personally it became a little difficult to differentiate between reality, hallucinations and flashbacks. I had to re-read certain bits to make sure that I wasn't getting myself lost in between the lines.

Our protagonist:

The SASS, Oh the SASS. Golly me, I fell in love with Grace so hard. Her personality won me over straight away and it was so easy to connect to her on a personal level because I could see a little of myself in her. Top marks for creativity there, her sarcasm was to die for.
Grace was sassy, determined and not afraid to get get what we wants. Bam, perfect female heroine right there and If I'm honest with y'all, this is exactly what this genre needs; MORE SASSY FEMALES.


Additional thoughts:

The thing about Ally Carter's writing is that she has a very distinctive style, her stories aren't complex or too hard to understand. Her style is simple, easy writing, but she really makes it work. Simple doesn't always mean boring, especially not when it comes to Carter's works. Ally always manages to pull the reader in, keeps them on their toes and has them hanging on her every word. It's easy reading at its best which is something we should all learn to appreciate more. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good complex story, clever lyricism goes a long way for me, but I think it is so important to relax once in a while. Read for fun on a cold Sunday morning, wrapped up in your favourite patchwork blanket with a nice cup of tea and enjoy yourself. Your Kindle will thank you, trust me.

Sometimes less is simply more.

The only thing that sort of irritated me were certain bits with Grace's character, as much as I loved her, sometimes I would've wished for a little more realism. Yes, its fiction, but come on. Some scenes were just a little bit too far fetched, which wasn't all too good for credibility and thus, sort of ruined a handful of moments for me, but hey. I still rather enjoyed the overall tone; sassy, fun easy reading.

Top marks for the supporting cast as well, as I mentioned above, Ally did a marvellous job with her cast. I'd like to order two Noah's for personal use, please? Please do get back to me on that, Ally. (Sigh.)

While All Fall Down has a handful of flaws and may not appeal to all YA fanatics, I'm still rather glad I picked it up. I'm so excited to see what happens in book two.