Genre: thriller, romance, young adult
Number of books: 3 (All Fall Down, See How They Run, Take the Key and Lock Her Up)
Summary: (series list on Goodreads):
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.
Rating: 4/5 stars
I decided to do a collective review for this trilogy because I blew through all three of them on audiobooks in a long weekend thanks to snow days (not to mention the fact that they’re all kind of blended together in my mind because I didn’t stop between them to try to understand what was happening). I love Ally Carter, but out of all of her work, this series is by far my least favorite. However, that’s not to say that it wasn’t great, because it was, it just wasn’t as amazing as her other works (I’m obsessed with the Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series, to say it lightly).
First things first: Grace. She’s a self-proclaimed “army brat” and three years before the events of the series, when she was thirteen, she saw her mother die. Her father is somewhere in the world, detained, and her older brother, Jamie, is at West Point. After her mother’s death, she was institutionalized for a while because she kept seeing “the scarred man” who she believes killed her mother. When the series begins with All Fall Down, she’s moving to the United States embassy in Adria, in Europe, to live with her grandfather, the ambassador. She meets some new people and reunites with old friends she used to know when she and her brother stayed at Embassy Row every summer during their childhood before their mother’s death, including the boy next door, Alexei Volkov (the Russian ambassador’s son). Grace begins to see “the scarred man” more and more and believes that she can catch him and punish him for killing her mother. The first book revolves around this plot line, but after it is resolved, there’s a much bigger scheme to be handled, which I cannot discuss because of extreme spoilers, obviously.
Some of the other Embassy Row kids include: Noah, Grace’s best friend and his sister Lila (Brazilian and Israeli embassies), Rosie (German) and Megan (American). They get into a lot of trouble throughout the series, but they all have their own strengths that they bring to the table. The romance story line in this series isn’t as clear as it was in Ally Carter’s other books, but I could tell that Grace and Alexei were going to be the main couple from the beginning (and I was super pleased with the progression of it). Of course, there are so many obstacles in their relationship to overcome that I can’t keep track of them, but they have a great banter and Alexei’s protectiveness over Grace is always present.
Plot-wise, this series is intense. All of Ally Carter’s books are international, lots of languages and locations, but these ones are all over the world, which is sometimes hard to follow, but for the most part, it’s intentionally confusing or clear-cut. There’s a lot of mentions of Grace being “crazy”, which I wasn’t super thrilled about the terminology, but it’s a new kind of narrator for Ally Carter: an unreliable one. Book 1 is about Grace’s mother’s death, book 2 is about another, different death, and book 3 is everything going downhill (basically, a lot happens and it’s intense).
Overall, this was a good trilogy. Not my favorite, as there were definitely some things that bothered me (mostly pacing and clarity), but I’ve always been a huge fan of Ally Carter, so reading her work (or listening to it) is always fun for me. If you’ve read the Gallagher Girls series and the Heist Society trilogy, then definitely check this out! If you haven’t read anything by Ally, then I’d recommend GG or HS before this one, because those are very high on my “favorite series of all time” list.
Happy reading! xx, J