All Involved by Ryan Gattis

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All Involved Source: Library

Five words from the blurb: Los Angeles, riot, race, revenge, control

All Involved is a fictionalised story which shows the horror of the 1992 LA riots. It didn’t sound like my sort of book, but when I saw David Mitchell raving about it I added it straight to my wish-list. Yet again David Mitchell has proven to be reliable with his recommendations – All Involved is an impressive book. It explains how numerous factors led to the escalation of the riot (in which a total of 11,000 people were arrested), and how different members of society were affected by the violence.

The writing was shockingly vivid throughout. Many people will find the brutal descriptions too distressing, but I was impressed by the honesty of the account. Explaining everything in unflinching detail led to a greater understanding of the event as a whole and I especially liked the fact that things were shown from the viewpoint of both the rioters and the emergency services.

Every person had a unique voice and the individual dialects appeared realistic. I occasionally found the gang members difficult to understand, but I can’t critcise this as it appeared authentic and added to the atmosphere of the novel.

This book did a fantastic job of enabling the reader to understand the factors which lead people into unthinkable acts of violence.

The people who live around here, they know what it actually feels like. They know how ugly life can get. Everyone else, the people sitting at home, watching this unfold on television, they have no idea. Those are the people shocked by the riots. They can’t comprehend them because they don’t understand the other side. They don’t understand what happens to people with no money who live in a neighbour where crime is actually a viable career path when there are no other opportunities, and I’m not excusing it or condoning it or saying it can’t be avoided, but I’m saying that’s how it is.

It was scary to see how precarious peace can be and how easily a bad situation can be inflamed.

The only problem was that the large number of characters meant the book felt fragmented. Whilst reading the novel I sometimes became frustrated by the way the focus of the story kept changing, but on reaching the end I appreciated the rounded picture the author was trying to achieve.

All Involved feels like a classic. If you like reading true crime, or gaining an insight into the criminal mind, then this is a must read.

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8 Comments

  1. *sounds of scribbling* Thanks!

    1. Jackie says:

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  2. Athira says:

    This is on my wishlist, so I’m glad you liked it. I was considering listening to the audiobook but I’m not sure I will get the gang talk either, so I may go for the print.

    1. Jackie says:

      Athira, The audio book might make the dialects easier to understand – as if you’re not familiar with the way they say things (like me!) sometimes it can be easier to understand from listening than trying to decipher the syllables in a sentence. I hope you enjoy whichever format you decide to try :-)

  3. Mystica says:

    Gangs not my scene but I did like your review as it gives me an inkling of what would have happened.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, I normally avoid books about gang culture, but this is one you should make an exception for :-)

  4. Adding to the list! It looks like a tough read but an important one.

    1. Jackie says:

      “It looks like a tough read but an important one.”

      Exactly right!

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