[BOOKS] ⚡ Anna K. ✯ Jenny Lee – Islecook.co.uk

Anna K. likely closer to 4 5 but reading the author s note really upped it up and now i want to read Anna Karenina and am fucking emo QUICK TAKE if dessert was a book, it would be ANNA K So light and fun, like GOSSIP GIRL meets CRAZY RICH ASIANS Loved all of the characters and the way Jenny contemporized a classic for a new audience A must read I suspect this is going to be a very polarizing book This modern YA retelling of Anna Karenina is what I would call The Goldfinch meets Gossip Girl, but with awareness of racism and privilege, not to mention a much diverse cast of characters It is smart, darkly tragic, but manages to end on a bittersweet note This is a book that will make you feel things and leave you thinking, regardless of whether you love it or hate it Set among super elite teens of Manhattan, we enter a world filled with lavish lifestyles, over the top spending, private tutors, wildly opulent parties with expensive drugs, truly horrible parents, and quite a lot of sex And if this is a love story, it is mostly a tragic one.The eponymous Anna K is a half white, half Korean teen with very wealthy parents, a high society boyfriend, a wild but much loved older brother, and two very large Newfoundland Dogs This book has a large cast of characters and while Anna s story is central to the plot, there are several other significant stories as well, and I really fell in love with some of the side characters The character development in this book is generally really good I was especially impressed with how Stephen Anna s brother went from being someone I really disliked to one of my favorite characters by the end of the book as he grows and changes The sibling relationship between him and Anna is also a really fantastic one Meanwhile, Dustin is one of a couple of characters who lend some much needed balance to all the wealth and privilege He is Black, Jewish and adopted, with middle class parents, but has known Stephen for years and is now his tutor and friend The book does quite a bit to address different types of racism and classism in really pointed and thoughtful ways Honestly, I really struggled with the first third of this book It feels incredibly bleak and has a lot of difficult and even horrifying content in it as we are introduced to the characters, their families, and where they come from That said, I really enjoyed the last 2 3 of the book this is where you really start to feel the Gossip Girl vibes and I appreciated that we get real payoff from the earlier content in impactful ways If I hadn t been reading this with a friend, I might have DNF ed it early on, but I am glad I decided to push through because for me, it was ultimately worth it It is thematically rich and takes a nuanced approach to a number of issues It also just becomes a lot by turns fun and satisfying later on If you are familiar with the plot of Anna Karenina, it should come as no surprise that this book involves several instances of infidelity While that is always a tricky issue for me in books, I thought the author used this to explore the gendered ways that cheating is typically treated in really interesting ways The idea that it is somehow wrong for a woman to use her sexuality this way than it is for a man is actively pulled apart and I appreciated the way that was handled Similarly, drug use is handled in a nuanced way that manages to be realistic without feeling preachy And there is a LOT of drug use in the book, so I think that is important The narrative demonstrates why it can be so appealing to some teens for fun at parties, for handling nerves, for focus, etc But we also see how it can go horribly wrong, from poor decision making to a very bad acid trip on the lighter end, but also including the absolute devastation of becoming a heroine addict who steals from family and overdoses In all cases, it feels humanized rather than demonized, trusting the reader to draw their own conclusions.We also see how parents deeply impact the choices that their children make as adolescents through neglect, abuse, and their own behavior both positive and negative The trauma that some of these parents cause through their action or inaction is truly heart wrenching I will admit that being a parent myself, this aspect may have stood out to me than it would to some other readers, but it is definitely worth noting.Finally, lets talk about the sex, because there is a lot of it here Given the explicit especially for YA nature of some of the scenes this may be controversial recommended for older teens What I appreciate about what it does though is that we get multiple examples of how to approach sex as a teen without putting a value judgement on it One character wants to wait until she is in love and emotionally ready and when things don t quite go as planned, we get a complex portrayal of what the aftermath is like for her We see another character lose her virginity in a impulsive way where the consent is a little fuzzy and she ends up regretting it for specific reasons, but eventually confronts things We also see passionate, consensual sex in the context of infidelity, queer characters hooking up off screen It is sex positive in that it prioritizes the value of female pleasure and choice However, I didn t love the non inclusion of safe sex as a conversation, especially given how many characters and different kinds of characters are sleeping together The only place I saw it was in a side character admitting that she dislikes condoms and has had two abortions There is no other mention of chemical birth control methods, no depictions of condom use, no discussions between characters of concerns involving unplanned pregnancy or STD s, and in my opinion there really should be In full disclosure, I read an advance copy of the book and it is possible that the finished copy will rectify this, but I do find it concerning, especially in a book targeting teens that has such a heavy emphasis on sex.In terms of writing style, I think this book is going to be hit and miss for people The author has a background in screen writing and it definitely shows, especially in the earlier portion of the book That isn t necessarily bad, but it s a quirk that some readers might not get along with Overall, I was surprised at how much the book resonated with me by the end, despite a difficult beginning I think a lot of readers are going to eat this up, but others will not be fans See below for a partial list of content warnings because there are a lot I received an advance copy of this book for review via Netgalley and the publisher All opinions are my own.CW include teen sex, alcohol use and drug use, drug overdose, death, loss of a loved one, infidelity, catching a parent engaging in infidelity, discussions of young children being exposed to sex, unclear consent, graphic depictions of depression, suicidal ideation. I won this via goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review All my opinions are my own Pure escapism fun Sometimes you just want to turn off your brain and go with it. Not only my first 5 star read of the year finally, but my first ugly cry Ugh Anyways, full review to come in a few days The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 4.25 5 StarsThis was so much fun to read I didn t know how much I needed a YA retelling of Anna Karenina until I read this one I believe the perfect way to describe this book is to tell you to imagine a mix amongst Gossip Girl, Crazy Rich Asians and Anna Karenina That s pretty much it and I mean this in the best way possible.I think the author was a true master in capturing the essence of the original novel and bringing it into life into this book that s set in the 21st century Some things were definitely over the top, but most of the time it didn t feel forced at all The characters were very diverse which was such a nice thing to see in a retelling of such a classic Also, I loved the fact that the author decided to use multiple perspectives, it worked so well with the novel and it definitely kept the narration flowing I didn t enjoy some of Anna s family dynamics, mainly the one regarding her parents and their deep involvement in their children s lives I won t spoil the ending, but I must say I expected a little from it If you ve never read Anna Karenina, you can totally read this one without feeling lost at all You ll only miss the references, but other than that you ll be fine. DNF 20 pages in The good thing is it cemented my goal of NEVER reading Anna Karenina, and created a new goal of never attempting to read any retellings of it All in all a productive reading experience free review copy Every Happy Teenage Girl Is The Same, While Every Unhappy Teenage Girl Is Miserable In Her Own Special WayMeet Anna K At Seventeen, She Is At The Top Of Manhattan And Greenwich Society Even If She Prefers The Company Of Her Horses And Newfoundland Dogs She Has The Perfect If Perfectly Boring Boyfriend, Alexander W And She Has Always Made Her Korean American Father Proud Even If He Can Be A Little Controlling Meanwhile, Anna S Brother, Steven, And His Girlfriend, Lolly, Are Trying To Weather An Sexting Scandal Lolly S Little Sister, Kimmie, Is Struggling To Recalibrate To Normal Life After An Injury Derails Her Ice Dancing Career And Steven S Best Friend, Dustin, Is Madly And One Sidedly In Love With KimmieAs Her Friends Struggle With The Pitfalls Of Ordinary Teenage Life, Anna Always Seems To Be Able To Sail Gracefully Above It All That Is Until The Night She Meets Alexia Count Vronsky At Grand Central A Notorious Playboy Who Has Bounced Around Boarding Schools And Who Lives For His Own Pleasure, Alexia Is Everything Anna Is Not But He Has Never Been In Love Until He Meets Anna, And Maybe She Hasn T, Either As Alexia And Anna Are Pulled Irresistibly Together, She Has To Decide How Much Of Her Life She Is Willing To Let Go For The Chance To Be With Him And When A Shocking Revelation Threatens To Shatter Their Relationship, She Is Forced To Question If She Has Ever Known Herself At AllDazzlingly Opulent And Emotionally Riveting, Anna K A Love Story Is A Brilliant Reimagining Of Leo Tolstoy S Timeless Love Story, Anna Karenina But Above All, It Is A Novel About The Dizzying, Glorious, Heart Stopping Experience Of First Love And First Heartbreak Review to come DNF 30%Trashy and messy are two things that I thrive on because it s my life but this was like a dumpster fire that I needed to back away from I went into this with an open mind because it was compared to things that I ve never read or watched before So I tried to stay positive but shortly after I started reading this I had an epiphany It came crystal clear why I never read or watched those things It s because I don t do the rich acting like asshats and cheating This was full of it and that was a hard no from me I get that rich teenagers will act like spoiled little monsters with loads of booze and drugs but I just couldn t handle all the cheating They all knew it was wrong and mentioned so but did it anyway I can t roll my eyes hard enough Anna K was full of diverse characters and that was amazing but the story was just awful and boring I would think twice about reading this even though the cover is amazing.

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