Thank you to Penguin Books and ReadersFirst for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Anna K. has easily been one of my most-anticipated reads of 2020 for a long time. I heard so many good things about it and, honestly, the cover is to die for. I tried desperately to get my hands on a copy for so long before I finally got the chance to win one on Readers First and, after all of the effort, this book did not disappoint.
This is sold as the story of Anna K and Count Vronsky, two teenagers in present-day New York, rather than the two identically named teenagers in Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina.’ I have never read ‘Anna Karenina’ and don’t know if the reason this book managed to shock me was because of that, but it turned out to be much more of a story than I expected. It was not just about Anna and Vronsky by any stretch. This tells the story of the elite in New York, and all of the struggles they individually face.
Most of the characters’ behaviour in this book disgusted me, and I disliked all of the cheating and drug-taking, but I couldn’t seem to put it down. Jenny Lee isn’t trying to tell the story of the perfect rich kids of the present day. She’s telling the story of how messed-up they all are and, amongst all their riches, how human too. I personally didn’t find myself forgiving them for the mistakes they made, but I did find them redeeming themselves throughout the story.
The ending was absolutely heartbreaking, in a way that I was not expecting at all but, although some characters suffered terrible fates, others really saw strong personal growth and got the happy endings that could finally put them on the right path.
It’s hard to pick a favourite character, but I found that I really liked Dustin, the state school boy who tutored Anna’s brother (Steven) and Lolly, Steven’s girlfriend. Lolly was a loving girlfriend, confused and hooked by all of the drama going on around her, starting in her own relationship, and Dustin was the Gossip Girl’s Dan Humphrey, without all of the creeping and spying.
This book is a light-hearted, funny read, until it’s not. I was surprised when I found myself crying at the character’s struggles and desperately turning the pages to make sure everything turned out okay. I strongly disliked the Gossip Girl books but loved Crazy Rich Asians and, based on all of the descriptions online, this book could have been hit-or-miss for me. I’m so glad that Jenny Han’s book ended up being heartfelt, shocking and emotional, and giving what may be a slightly exaggerated but believable view of the young elite.
If you want to read this book, you can get a copy here.
P.S. I have seen three different covers of this book (two ARCs and one final cover) and they are all so pretty, I could cry.