A darker, dirtier version of Gossip Girl, where filthy-rich Manhattan kids are up to more than you would think.
Good to know
Based on a classic
Drug & alcohol use
- This book is about highly-flawed and snotty teens!
- This portrayal of mega-rich elites may require some suspension of disbelief :)
Why I love it
Author, When Katie Met Cassidy
Blur the line between the supposed “high” culture of the elite and the “low” culture of the masses and I’m yours. So, when I learned that Anna K tackled the question, "what would Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina look like as a contemporary young adult novel?" I knew I had to find out. The result is a modern, refreshingly diverse story that’s as heartfelt and thought-provoking as it is high-drama fun. Think Tolstoy meets Gossip Girl with a half-Korean lead.
Seventeen-year-old Anna is from a wealthy Manhattan family. Her idyllic relationship is threatened when she meets handsome lothario Alexia “Count” Vronsky. This thread connects an abundant cast of characters, all struggling with their own matters of love, class, mental health, addiction—not to mention racism and sexism.
Just a fair warning—this book has a few graphic scenes containing drugs, sex, and a lot of swearing (this spoof of the lives of obscenely wealthy teenagers is over-the-top, to say the least!). If that’s not for you, pick a different book. That said, thanks to Lee’s cinematic writing style I was wholly invested in the fates of these misguided teenagers, each with their own unique voice and fully realized arc. Love, heartbreak, shame, guilt, regret—these are the great subjects of humanity. In this way, Anna K manages to be an indulgent joyride that’s also, well, downright Tolstoyesque.
Meet 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 Kimmie.
As 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 all.
Read a sample →
I love to tell myself I’m past reading high school love stories, but over and over again I have to remind mgself that just because the characters are young doesn’t mean the love isn’t real. Great read
New York, NY
This was one of the best romance novels I’ve read, hands down. It’s set in my favorite city, has really complex characters and the ending is super unexpected. Definitely a modern Romeo and Juliet ❤️
South Lyon, MI
This book was so good! There were times where I was like ‘Okay, this is too much,’ but I’m so glad I stuck it out. I could not put this book down. So much packed into 374 pages! Definitely recommend!
This book kept me hooked! I’m a fan of Tolstoy’s Anna & I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the two, especially the inclusion of the trains. I felt this was a fresh, page turning take on a classic.
If you loved “Anna Karenina”, I think it would be impossible to dislike this fun reimagining of a classic tale. It was so much fun to read! I loved the diverse characters and the fantastical setting.
So I’ve never read Anna Karenia or seen the movie so I had no idea what I was getting into. But this is so good. I love how it highlights that your life can change in a snap which we all need to learn
Usually, I’m not fond of classics being reimagined. Anna K. is one of the few exceptions. I found myself drawn in and hoping for a happy ending, despite knowing that I was reading a tragic love story.
I never read Anna Karenina, but if its half as good as Anna K, I need to give it a read. I was entrapped by the whole tale, beginning to end. I’m not usually into YA, but this belongs on every shelf.
Grand Rapids , MI
I was skeptical, Tolstoy’s original Anna Karenina is an all-time fav of mine, but this was such a fun, refreshing, and at times silly take on it! It made me fall even more in love with the story! ????
The build up, the emotional roller coaster, the love, and the devastation had me all over the place. I couldn’t read the final bit for a week or so as I soaked it all in. I didn’t want it to end!
Los Angeles, CA
I haven’t stayed up all night to finish a book in a while like I did with Anna K! The Gossip Girl-esque update to the classic story worked very well, and boy were my heartstrings pulled at the end <3
If you love “Anna Karenina” but aren’t particularly interested in Russian agricultural practices, pick this up. But be warned, although it has a “Gossip Girl” update, the gut punches remain.
I loved this book! It managed to be a classic romance tale with an unexpected twist. I didn't know that it was based on another book at the time of reading, but that knowledge made me love it even more
Cincinnati , OH
I didn't realize this was a retelling of Anna Karenina, had no idea about the story, and now I'm obsessed. It took a minute to get used to the writing but I will be recommending this to so many people
I think that this book took me a little while to become invested in as somethings were just so over the top, but once I was sucked in, I never wanted to leave. The drama of it all was a great escape.
As someone who did not know the original book this story is based on, I really enjoyed Anna K. I liked the characters, plot and overall the writing. I've recommended it to a few of my friends already!
I am never the one to like a love story, but add in the gossip girl like aspect to it and I am hooked! I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t overly dramatic or unbelievable. Definitely recommending!
I was surprised how much I loved this book; I haven’t read Anna Karenina, but I highly enjoyed this retelling filled with a bunch of ridiculously wealthy, hormonal teenagers and their angsty lives.
If you liked Gossip Girl, this book is for you! All the characters reminded me of the show's Upper East Siders, and I absolutely loved all the teenage rich kid drama. True love can withstand anything!
Really enjoyed this one. I thought the comparison to Gossip Girl was on point, although it certainly inspired me to add the original Anna K. to my to-be-read list. Characters are flawed, but enjoyable