“I am the Girl Who Cried Wolf. And now I am the only one who can save the lambs.” – p. 291
All Fall Down (Scholastic, 2015) by Ally Carter is a YA political thriller and the first book in the Embassy Row series. From the first page, I was intrigued by the character of Grace Blakely, sixteen-year-old army brat and granddaughter of the U.S. ambassador to a fictional European country, called Adria.
Right off the bat, we know that Grace is no “girly” girl. She jumps fences, climbs walls, fights like a man and can run a military obstacle course in her sleep. Three years ago, Grace witnessed her beloved mother die in what everyone says was a tragic accident. But Grace knows it was murder. She witnessed it, saw the murderer. Only, no one believes Grace. Her family and the police think the trauma of watching her mother die has made her crazy. Now Grace is back in her grandfather’s home on Embassy Row in Adria, staying in her mother’s childhood room, which feels more to her like a shrine. Visions and flashbacks of her mother haunt Grace around every corner, making the reader wonder if the teen really is delusional…until she comes face-to-face with who she knows is the killer.
Together with a team of skilled, genius and lovable teens on Embassy Row who want to help, Grace is determined to catch the suspect and bring him to justice before he kills again. This book was non-stop fun, action and suspense. The only thing I found myself wishing was that it didn’t take place in a fictional country, because it would’ve been even more fascinating if the author was educating the reader about a real place, even if embellished, in the style of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books. However, as I’m now a few chapters into the sequel already, I’m beginning to understand more of why a fictional country was necessary.
Overall, I found this a highly enjoyable and fast read. The end truly took me by surprise – I was not expecting it. If you like a fast-paced political thriller with plenty of fiction, teen suspense, a tiny dash of potential romance, and an unconventional, unreliable narrator, All Fall Down is a great choice.