Book Review: All Involved by Ryan Gattis

All Involved
by Ryan Gattis

Publication date: 2016
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 410


That’s when it hits me. I’m staring at a war zone. In South Central.

On an April night in 1992, Payasa learns that her older brother has been stabbed to death, his body left out in the road to rot. He was never involved. He was innocent. He didn’t even carry a gun. And that messes with the rules, even for Lynwood, even for the streets.

But it’s the first day of the LA riots, and the city is tearing itself apart. Fire-fighters, graffiti artists, nurses and law enforcement – all of them connected by this murder – find themselves caught in the mayhem. Every cop is distracted, and for the people who see the law as an enemy, it’s a chance to settle old scores.

That’s just too good an opportunity to miss.

Source: Goodreads


Looking at the stellar reviews and the total number of stars that “All Involved” has on Goodreads, I am truly shocked. It certainly looks like I’m in the minority of readers who really didn’t like it.

The book is set in the spring of 1992 in LA, at the beginning of the riots that tore the city apart. When I first started reading, I thought I would really enjoy this book. Gripped by the first chapter and the murder of an innocent man that ties this story together, I was eager to find out what was going to happen to those involved. The second chapter still had me intrigued, but the third is where my interest began to drop off.

The book is separated into days and then separated into individuals, viewing the story from a number of angles. The problem I found was that there were so many of them that is was difficult to connect to anyone. To represent how many people these riots affected, we hear from 17 different people with a few chapters each. Many of these are left with unfinished stories, some are repetitive and some had names and stories I could never remember. I didn’t hate them all, some parts of the stories were interesting, but I found the majority to be unmemorable and written in a style which I find very difficult to read, especially those written in a kind of gang style. On top of that, the plot was dragged out with similar events, view points and conversations happening over and over again.

Of course I do appreciate the history and the time in which this book was set. It was shocking to read some of the things that happened, especially as this is not something I’d even heard of before, but sadly this book just didn’t do it for me. It was long and I actually had to skimmed vast chunks towards the end just to get to the finish. Needless to say, I am quite glad to have put this one down for the last time and won’t be picking it up again.

Overall rating: This book was too long, repetitive and just not my kind of thing. With styles that are difficult to follow, characters that I’ve already forgotten and plot points that happen again and again, I didn’t like this book. No matter what other reviewers say, it’s just 1 star for “All Involved” from me.

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