Today I’m sharing my short review of Anna K, a young adult retelling of Anna Karenina!
“Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way.”
Anna K is part of the upper echelons of Manhattan’s elite. She and her friends live fabulous lives and have drama-filled days. This story is packed with penthouses, private parties, and soul cycle classes. This modern re-telling of Anna Karenina is Gossip Girl meets Crazy Rich Asians.
Anna K is funny at times and, I imagine, spot-on for what it’s like to be a 17-year-old girl in a social media world. In my opinion, the mark of a good retelling is that it maintains the essence of the story. In this novel, Lee changing the ages of the characters complicated being able to tell this story with the same magnitude as the original, but other elements – the introduction of social media and the interconnectedness of teenage life today – allowed the story to still hold the emotional turmoil of the original. The main reason that I felt changing the ages decreased the stakes of the original is because seventeen-year-olds falling out of love with their first boyfriend and falling into love/lust with someone they are deeply attracted to isn’t that unusual. Further, without the social media aspect, I think the “social fallout” theme of the original wouldn’t have felt as pressing. In the original, Anna’s affair threatens her entire standing in society and if it comes to light, she will lose everything. Anna K cheating on her boyfriend (not her husband) doesn’t seem to hold the same stakes. Again, the introduction of social media and the social ridicule that accompanies it raises the stakes in certain ways that make this retelling work!
There were a lot of characters, which was hard to follow at times, but I appreciated the diversity of the cast and how Lee handles the plight of the modern teenager. I enjoyed this one, and think if you like YA fiction, Gossip Girl, and are interested in a modern Anna Karenina, this is a good pick!
Have you read this?