Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.
Now, at age sixteen, she’s come back to stay – in order to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.
Tell Me More: A new Ally Carter novel is the best way to get me to slow down and take some time for reading, without ever once worrying that the story won’t live up to expectations. All Fall Down, the first book in the new Embassy Row series, is no different. The story Carter tells this time around feels more intimate though, with a smaller nucleus of action. That said, the ramifications of Grace’s actions have farther reaching consequences because of the setting: a street on which several countries have situated their embassies is not a place where one can sneak into the house next door as part of a prank. A single wrong move could, as the kids themselves realize, start the next world war, and Grace has always believed herself to only be capable of the wrong moves.
At first glance, Grace is not like Gallagher Girl Cammie, secure in her mother and her friends and her school, or like Kat, confident in her abilities and her crew. Grace is unsure and scarred, her mother’s death a weight and a responsibility that she can’t shake. Even more intriguing is how the reader can’t be sure of Grace either. She’s an unreliable narrator, and I loved the way Ally Carter developed that uncertainty throughout the novel. The hints are never overdone or too few to notice–we know that there is something off about Grace, and the mystery itself did not seem predictable once revealed.
What is familiar is Carter’s penchant for found families, a very welcome trope. Grace’s relationship with her grandfather is distant at best, and seeing her open up to Noah and the other teens on Embassy Row is just as fulfilling as seeing her gain more confidence in herself. They help her to trust herself, and to face the truth about her mother’s death. The lack of a central romance highlights the burgeoning friendships even more, though there are tiny hints scattered throughout the novel of possible future relationships.
The Final Say: All Fall Down heralds the start of a strong new series, with Ally Carter’s deft hand guiding Grace’s story. Readers will not only be satisfied, but yearn for the next installment immediately after closing the cover.
Ally Carter is a writer living and working in the Midwest. She loved school so much she kept going…and going…and going…until finally she had to graduate. Now she has degrees from Oklahoma State University and Cornell University and a house and a job and other very grown-up things.