‘All Fall Down: An Embassy Row Novel’ by Ally Carter: Great YA thriller

allfall down

Rating: 4 stars

Ally Carter manages to combine espionage, adventure, and mystery in her first book in a new series, “All Fall Down.” The book is set in the fictional country of Adria, and Grace moves there to live with her grandfather, the United States Ambassador to Adria.

There’s lots of history in Grace’s family that connects them to Adria. Her grandfather married a woman from Adria, and Grace’s mother grew up there. A huge part of the story deals with the death of Grace’s mother several years earlier. Grace was there when her mother’s antique shop went up in flames and her mother died.

Grace believes that a man with a scar not only bombed the store, but also shot her mother. She is determined to find him. But she has a history of accusing men with scars of being the killer. So when she arrives in Adria and sees yet another man with a scar, she tells her new friends that he’s the one who killed her mother.

The book is well written. The story moves quickly — there’s never a dull moment. Her friends — and not-so-friends — are well rounded characters, and the character of Grace herself is written with a touch of self-doubt but enough brains and determination to make it work.

The twists and turns are satisfyingly surprising and, unlike some other stories, it all makes sense. But there’s still enough mystery to leave the reader waiting and wanting the next book in the series.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Scholastic Press, for review purposes.