Cover Image: Anna

Anna

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Member Reviews

A brave teen in the postapocalyptic world is trying to survive without any relevant information about the "new normal", armed just with her guts and love for her younger brother.

Something happened - an unknown virus is killing anyone above 14. In the new world without the adults, the children are trying to survive any way they know. Anna fights this situation, armed with the advice of her dead mother, but in the new world there are the new rules. And when her younger brother has been kidnapped, she starts the journey to get him back. She meets and befriends a strong dog and a friendly boy - and maybe there is a way out, a way to go for the hope. 

A mix between The Lord of the Flies for pre/teens and a dystopian story, this is a story of the bravery for the adults. Which is a paradox, because the heroes are children (teens), yet the fight they fight is a fight agains the hopelessness and desperation. Children can accept the new rules with flexibility and have enough stamina to fight anew every morning - yet only adults know that the desperation is the fight-stopper. But luckily for Anna, there is love, too - a love for her younger brother to protect, a love of dog for her to enjoy and a new love of - and for - the boy. 

This is not an easy story to read (maybe because I am an adult, so I know how hard is to fight the life without any surety). Also this is not a pretty story. Yet to fight is a must - and the flicker of hope is still here. Maybe we only need to use well the new mornings - and a new morning comes every day.
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I just could not get into this book... read the first 100 pages or so and the story just was not gripping. There's nothing I enjoy more than a good book, finding a new author and being able to look forward to their next book. Sorry to say, this did not meet the mark...
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3.5 A virus has devastated Italy, all adults are thought to be dead. Children under the age of puberty are free if the virus, but soon after puberty the telling red blotches begin to appear. As Anna's mother lay dying she made Anna promise to take care of her younger brother Astor.  She left them a book of important things to help them survive without her. They stay in the family home, Anna leaving to search for food to bring g home for Astor. They are surviving until a series of events that culminate in the disappearance of Astor. Now Anna must go out and search for her brother. 

A world run by children, many feral,the older enslaving the younger. Definite comparisons to Lord of the Flies, The Road and even the Hunger Games. Shows what desperation can do, how even when nothing else is left there is hope to believe what one hears. Chances to take, possibilities to explore. There is much covered in this book, how despite the odds, there can be a friendship and maybe more. Devastating events, almost hallucinatory occurences at the hotel. How can one find a way to survive in this world where so little is left, and ones time is due to run out.

Quite strange, stirring and some good storytelling. The writing is amazing, the plot the stuff of nightmares, but in the midst of it all there is still love and hope.

ARC from Netgalley.
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"But as everyone knows, illusions bloom like poisoned flowers in people with short futures."

Anna is set in Sicily in the near future, following the outbreak of an illness that kills adults but leaves young children alive. Those left behind are quickly confronted with their mortality since they too will succumb to the virus upon reaching puberty. With elements reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and M.R. Carey's :The Girl with All the Gifts, Niccolo Ammaniti offers a refreshing dystopian novel that keeps you hooked until the end. 

The novel is so very creepy and quite visceral in its descriptions. I found myself shifting from feelings of disgust to fear and pity, all within a couple of pages. (The last novel that made me actually grimace while reading was Eileen, so this isn't something that happens all the time, but it just propelled me further and further into this very disconcerting world.)

This definitely isn't your typical YA dystopian novel with a young female protagonist following some basic quest motif, it's so much more than that. There are a lot of small but thought-provoking details that make you wonder about how society would evolve if it was run by children. The shifting perspectives (Anna, Astor, Pietro, the dog) also helped flesh out how this new world would be experienced. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Anna and her mother, which is perhaps a bit odd since the mother is already dead at the beginning of the novel, but I always looked forward to the little glimpses into the book of instructions that Anna received and her attempts at mourning the loss of her mother.
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This novel is set in 2020 in Sicily.  Four years earlier, a virus killed all adults; only children survived but they die as well once they reach puberty.  Thirteen-year-old Anna Salemi and her nine-year-old brother Astor survive as best they can.  Anna does the foraging for food and tries to protect her brother as best she can from the world with its feral dogs and children.  Along with a dog and their friend Pietro, they end up taking a journey across a post-apocalyptic landscape.

There are detailed descriptions of that landscape.  This is Palermo, the capital city:  “They entered the silent city.  Nothing had been spared by the fury of destruction.  Not a shop, not a building, not a flat.  All the locks on the doors had been forced.  All the kitchens had been emptied.  All the cupboard doors opened.  Pictures thrown on the floor, windowpanes broken, crockery smashed to smithereens.  Some areas appeared to have been bombed.  Sections of wall were still standing, like sea stacks among heaps of rubble which filled the streets and buried cars.”  The harbour in Palermo is also in ruins:  “The sea front . . . was an unbroken layer of plastic, canvas and stiff cardboard.  It no longer held any interest even for seagulls and rats.  There were heaps of bodies in the piazzas and lime-covered corpses lay in mass graves.  The harbour had been consumed by a fire so fierce it had twisted the iron railings and reduced the quays to blackened expanses.  The only things still standing were cranes and stacks of rusty containers.  Two ships lay on their sides like beached whales.”

Since there are no adults, the children have become wild.  Some have formed gangs for safety.  All are frightened and desperate and so cling to fantastical theories of what could save them.  Anna has an advantage in that her mother left her a book she wrote before she died; “The Important Things” is a survival guide outlining such things as how to dispose of her body, what to do once there is no more electricity, what to do in case of illness, etc.  This book helps Anna make sensible decisions for herself and her brother.  

It is the characterization of Anna that is the strongest element of the novel.  She is a complex character who has both negative and positive qualities.  What stands out is her love and protectiveness for her sibling.  At the same time, she is easily angered and can be cruel.  She is surprisingly mature in some respects:  she is responsible, resourceful, and brave.  On the other hand, as befits her age, she has childish characteristics.  For example, she is afraid of the dark, foolishly headstrong, and naïve about romantic relationships.  The trek she takes becomes a sort of coming-of-age journey during which she comes to a number of realizations.  

She learns about the universal will to survive:  “she sensed that life is stronger than everything else.  Life doesn’t belong to us, it passes through us. . . . [She] sensed that all the creatures on this planet, from snails to swallows, and including human beings, must live.  That is our mission; it has been written on our flesh.  We must go on, without looking back, for the energy that pervades us is beyond our control, and even when despairing, maimed or blind, we continue to eat, sleep and swim, struggling against the whirlpool that sucks us down.”  In one life-and-death situation, she refuses to give up:  “something tough prevented her from giving up, an indomitable will to live took hold of her limbs.”  She also learns from a friend about the value of living well; Pietro tells her, “’In the end, what’s important is not how long your life is, but how you live it.  If you live it well – to the full – a short life is just as good as a long one.’”  

There are some elements which bothered me.  Since there is no adult supervision, it is not a surprise that the children drink alcohol and use drugs.  What is frustrating is the way the author used their imbibing to obscure what happens.  This is the case with the Spa Hotel episode that is muddled and just becomes weird.  The pace of that section is slow and it just seems to ramble.  There are some inconsistencies:  one of Pietro’s aunts was believed to be a lesbian and the other, asexual, but “the dream of living in a harem and sharing [the consummate ladies’ man’s] favours stimulated their libido”?  The repeated, miraculous survival of the dog is incredible. Is his determination to be seen as confirmation of the universal will to live?

I felt obligated to finish the book, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed it.  It does not add anything fresh to the genre of dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction.  As has been pointed out by others, the book is certainly reminiscent of Lord of the Flies and several other books.  I appreciate the use of a female heroine but that too is not original.  

Note:  I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.
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I'm not a reader of dystopian fiction but I love Ammaniti's writing so I couldn't pass this up. This did not disappoint. The depiction of pre adolescent children was spot on and the story compelling. Lord of the flies meets Hunger Games. Ammaniti is Italy's greatest living writer.
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I definitely liked this one, but I didn't love it. I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic dystopian novels and this one did deliver on the eerie and unsettling world-building. I also thought Anna was a great character, very fierce and independent for her age (but maybe I'm partial to the name Anna? ;)). The author's writing was succinct yet engaging and it was easy to finish the book quickly. That being said, I found the ending completely unsatisfying and I was left with more questions than answers. Sometimes that works for a book, but in this case I felt like the entire plot was building up to answering the reader's questions about the disease and the world that it created. When so many of my questions were unanswered, it cast a shadow on the rest of the otherwise enjoyable book. 

Thank you very much to the author, publisher, and Netgalley for an ARC.
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This book is a bit of a different take on the whole apocalyptic genre that has the reading/television world in its grip. There are no zombies...and there are no adults. The adult population has been wiped out by a virus that hits only after puberty. The world is currently run by children younger than about 13 years old. So now we have a bit of a Lord of the Flies concept going on. This centers around a girl close to puberty and her young brother who live on an island off of Italy and their quest to get to the mainland in search of adults who may have survived. While this is a book many will thoroughly enjoy because of its action, sorrow, hope, friendships I found it to be a bit disjointed.  I don’t feel scenes flowed well; I would find myself thinking “But wait!” or “What?!” and it wasn’t because I was shocked by what happened; it was more due to wondering how we got to this scene already without much buildup. To put it plainly, I walked away dissatisfied. BUT! I do recommend this book to others who enjoy this genre.
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A post apocalyptic tale of a desolate world, left to the young....but with an encroaching death sentence. Reminiscent of Country of Ice Cream Star, but more enjoyably readable.
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This was a was beautiful and atmospheric read.

With an original plot  about children surviving in a world without adults it was quite an interesting read.The children were alone as the Red Fever killed only the adults.

Set on the island of Siciliy,in 2020 It tells  Anna and her little brother Astor, and a book their mother wrote before she died called The Book of Important things,

I quite enjoyed this read, although I  usually don't go for this genre and I am happy to recommend
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Anna is one part medical thriller and one part Maze Runner...  serving up a heroine that stays with you long after the story ends.  Against all odds and with the use of her dead mother's notebook of instructions to guide them, Anna sets out to provide her and her little brother a means of survival after a virus wipes out all adults and turns society inside out.  In a world of desperation and suffering Anna and Astor search for the one thing that keeps them going - hope.  Their journey is a page turner that will take you places right along with it!
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Anna was a somewhat surprising novel, I chose it on the back of i’m not scared and wasn’t prepared for the startlingly good mash-up of Cormac McCarthy’s the road, lord of the flies and any one of a host of post-apocalyptic thrillers. The lead characters are vivid and their lifestyle and needs understandable in the extreme circumstances; if one could criticise the secondary characters are more thinly sketched. Regardless, the horror that is presented in such stark terms contrasts with the hope and determination of Anna and her brother despite the inevitability of what must lie ahead. Tense, dramatic and effective.
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Sicily in the year 2020 - and the known world is in post-apocalyptic chaos after a mystery virus called Red Fever has wiped out all the adults and anyone post-puberty. Four years after the outbreak, 13 year old Anna and her younger  brother Astor are barely surviving by foraging for food and supplies, with only Anna’s native wit and determination and  the “book of important things” their dead mother has left them for guidance.
Ammaniti has a gift for portraying how a child’s mind works, which was evident in a previous suspense novel, 'I'm Not Scared', and his narrative detachment in describing the horrors of a world without adult supervision, compared  with the natural optimism and worldly innocence of a child makes the bleakness of their plight all the more desperate. I was particularly  moved by this description of the universal human will to survive against all odds:
‘Anna, in her lack of knowledge, sensed that all the creatures on this planet, from snails to swallows, and including human beings, must live. That is our mission; it has been written in our flesh. We must go on, without looking back, for the energy that pervades us is beyond our control, and even when despairing, maimed or blind, we continue to eat, sleep and swim, struggling against the whirlpool that sucks us down’. 
A grim but rewarding read.
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