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

I am an Ally Carter fangirl, so I was drop-dead excited when I found out she was starting a new series. This book was a great combination of her previous series with a new twist, but it is not my favorite of her books.

4/5 stars

cover all fall down

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.

This book was classic Ally Carter. Plot-wise, it was very similiar to the fifth Gallagher Girl (Out of Sight, Out of Time). Character-wise, it reminded me of her Heist Society series. Carter’s voice is constant and familiar throughout, though this book is more intense and less lough-out-loud than her previous series.

I love the setup of Embassy Row. The dynamic it created between the characters was great. On top of that, the fact that any disturbance between them could become an international incident added a drama to the series that the story would have suffered without.

Grace as a main character was okay. I sympathized with her plight–everyone believes she is crazy because she says her mother was murdered when the official story is that it was a tragic accident. She has spent the last three years since her mother’s death looking for the Scarred Man who shot her, and it has gotten her in loads of trouble. She is impulsive and reckless and broken–I liked her enough, but I wasn’t in love with her. She also has some serious PTSD to deal with.

Unfortunately, I don’t really like reading characters who have PTSD. It can come off as too much, and the story gets stuck inside the main character’s head instead of actually playing out. This story didn’t suffer from this too much–the plot continued even as Grace’s mental state deteriorated–but it was still a thorn in my side in regards to the entire book. In some ways, it seemed like her PTSD got in the way of her having a personality–everything revolved around the trauma, which was the point, I guess, but was still disappointing for the first book in a series. I want to know who the main character is, and then see her fall apart. Starting the book with her broken kept me from really connecting to her.

The other characters were an entertaining group of kids from various embassies. I liked them, but they weren’t incredibly complex. There is kind of a love triangle, but it doesn’t develop enough to become overwhelming. As the series progresses, I expect it will either solidify or one of the guys will be relegated to friend status (that has happened in the rest of Carter’s series).

The one part of this book that breaks from Carter’s other books is that none of the characters are badasses. In the Gallagher Girl series, all of the characters go to a school for spies and are naturally really good at what they do. In the Heist Society series, all the characters are trained as thieves.

None of the characters in All Fall Down are incredibly good at sneaking around or investigating international intrigue. While the plot of this book resembles the rest of Carters’, this detail makes All Fall Down unique and removes some of the semi-ridiculous air that surrounds her previous series.

The plot is simple but holds the reader’s attention. There were appropriate twists and turns and the ending completely shocked me. However, the story never achieved the addictive, magical quality of Carter’s other works.

All in all, All Fall Down is definitely worth reading, but fans of Ally Carter might be somewhat disappointed that this book doesn’t match up to standards set by her previous books.

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