Review: All Involved by Ryan Gattis

Wednesday 13 May 2015
Title: All Involved
Author: Ryan Gattis
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: 21st May 2015
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781447283164
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
The 1992 Los Angeles Riots: six days of looting, arson, assault and murder. America's second largest city in chaos.

In All Involved, Ryan Gattis weaves a heart-stopping narrative from the perspectives of characters whose stories of the riots were never told. In six sections, each covering a single day, we follow the intersecting lives of seventeen people: gang members, firefighters, nurses, law enforcement officers and graffiti artists, every one changed for ever.

Though the events of All Involved are fictional, every word is infused with authenticity and intimacy. A propulsive and ambitious novel as electrifying as the television series The Wire, this is a mesmerizing epic of crime and opportunity, race, revenge and loyalty.

The first thing I have to mention about All Involved is its fantastic cover. Sadly my copy was a digital copy but I would like to purchase a 'proper' copy of this book because I think it's great, and easily one of my favourites of 2015 so far.

I don't know all that much about the 1992 Los Angeles riots, at the time I was still a baby, but I can say with some confidence that I think Ryan Gattis has captured that time incredibly well, carrying out some impeccable research which is evident on every single page. In the book's brutal and extremely hard-hitting opening I felt as if I had been transported back in time, vivid descriptions making it seem like I was a witness myself, watching these events unfold from across the street. All Involved opens with an innocent man walking home from work, only to be murdered by gang members, the man's siblings are part of a rival gang. The riots mean that various criminals can carry out their acts without fear of the police, who are obviously busy elsewhere. It is a brutal and violent opening (as is pretty much the rest of the book), but it is one that will leave an impression on everybody that reads it, and one that is absolutely necessary for starting off this story.

The research that has clearly gone into All Involved is quite remarkable and I don't even know where to begin with attempting to discuss either the story or the characters involved except to say that it is an eclectic mix, all with their own individual voices and all easy to imagine as real people. One of the things I enjoyed was seeing everything play out through the eyes of all the different characters that we meet over the course of All Involved, rather than it just being from the point of view of one or two people. I felt it gave me a much greater understanding of the situation, and even helped me connect with certain characters. I also found myself getting a bit of an adrenaline rush at times, All Involved being a somewhat thrilling read as well as chilling and I couldn't stop reading as I wanted to see what the ultimate conclusion would be. I finished the book and then spent some time reading about the riots - and those involved or affected by them - online.

Recent years have shown that events such as those in All Involved aren't a thing of the past, and this is a timely and important release and a book people should be reading for years to come. All Involved is one of those books that everybody should read and it is one that I highly recommend.


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