Occasionally, I find myself looking for books outside the Fantasy/YA Fantasy categories, and often I’d say Romance/Contemporary books are a good avenue for this. I picked up Anna K after reading the summary online, and thinking this sounded fun. While the experience wasn’t quite what I thought I’d be in for, I had a few takeaways, and respect for what was being written by the author.
Anna K, is a third person omniscient pov story that follows a group of teens living in New York City, and Greenwich, CT. All wealthy, and well known, these teenagers face a host of issues including the typical peer pressure, bullying, but with the added access of being rich. Anna though, has been as close to perfect as a young socialite can be, dating the Greenwich OG, riding her horses, and caring for her two show dogs. All of that comes at risk when she meets the playboy, Count Vronsky. From that moment both their lives are set on a crash course, and their reputations on a dangerous precipice.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
The first things of note with this book are that it is based on the classic by Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, and second that it is third person omniscient. Third person omniscient, you ask? There are I’d say a handful of characters that we closely follow in this story including Anna K, Steven (Anna’s brother), Lolly (his girlfriend), Kimmie (Lolly’s sister), Count Vronsky, Beatrice (Vronsky’s cousin), Alexander (Anna’s Boyfriend), and Dustin (Steven’s friend), all of whom we have access to their thoughts. Sometimes that’s done by chapter, where we are focused on maybe two characters at a time, or in some cases all of them, all at once. That is where this book got daunting sometimes, it just became X was worried, Y was ecstatic, and Z was high. It can create some comedy, but it took me a while to easily follow this, and feel like I could go with this flow. Not only that, but for me at times this felt more like telling, rather than showing even though it sort of seemed to be just the style of writing.
The Anna Karenina aspect of this book wasn’t outright clear in the summary, so that was actually a surprise for me, and probably why I’d say I both respect the author’s choices, but ultimately would say this just wasn’t for me. The big thing as to why I would say it being based on Anna Karenina is not perhaps my favorite in a contemporary setting is the cheating. It’s clear from the beginning that you are in for both a big love story, and a bit of a mess at the same time. This makes rooting for the main couple a little hard when you know that quite a bit of this could have been avoided if they had not only cleared the air from the beginning, but cut some people loose too. Cheating is just one of those things that make it hard for me to fully get into that kind of story, and it was worked into the story in a myriad of ways. It doesn’t mean that I would back it in historical setting, but in a modern there are definitely a lot fewer excuses that actually would work.
The characters I’ll be honest do make up for the cheating aspect though as Vronsky ends up being my favorite even given his playboy attitude in the beginning. Not all the character stories, or characters are all likable, with some making me plain annoyed or mad by the end, but Lee did a great job of bringing a pretty diverse cast together and essentially throwing them at each other, letting them butt heads quite a bit. No two people felt alike in this setup, and it was definitely entertaining having so many different viewpoints of a single scene at times, especially during some of the more tense scenes. There is also a lot of really well done character growth as we see more than one character hit some pretty bad lows in their lives, and not only endure it, but come out better in the end as well.
While witnessing these teenagers in a lot of adult like settings and scenarios, I think this story could still be enjoyed by readers for it’s tackling of a well known piece of literature that isn’t often portrayed in young adult fiction. I’m also really intrigued with her choosing of the third person omniscient since I’d say I’ve seen more second person povs than this in any books I’ve read. This is definitely more for those readers who are well versed in contemporary YA, or YA romance than those looking for the easy going romance, which I think was where I began this book and what ultimately hurt my enjoyment of it. I typically stick to Fantasy when it comes to darker stories, or things just going incredibly wrong, while leaning to Romance for lighter reads, so I am not really the audience when it comes to this type of book.