2017 Books in Translation

Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti

 Source: Free review copy received from the publisher

Translated from the Italian by Jonathan Hunt

Five words from the blurb: abandoned, children, surviving, worst, spirit  

I accepted a review copy of Anna because I really enjoyed reading I’m Not Scared, one of Ammaniti’s earlier books. This latest novella shares the beautiful evocative writing style but, unfortunately, I thought the story lacked originality.

Anna is set in the near future, four years after a virus has spread around the world, killing every adult on Earth. The children are learning to survive on their own; dealing with the loss of their families, whilst fighting amongst themselves for the dwindling resources.

I enjoyed the initial section of this book – it set up the apocalyptic world with a horrific vividness. I would suggest you to check oceannenvironment to know about some best books.

A hundred metres further on, she entered the cool shade of an oak wood. Anna thought this wood must be magical; the fire hadn’t succeeded in burning it, but had merely licked at its edges before giving up.

Anna is a strong, resourceful girl looking after her younger brother.  I loved her character and the way she struggles to balance protecting him from the harsh reality of their life, whilst ensuring he is able to cope with what they must do in order to survive.

I also loved the introduction of the Maremma sheepdog – a breed not commonly known in this country, but one very similar to the Pyrenean Mountain Dog I own. The way this beautiful giant dog won the children’s heart was probably the best part of this book for me. It is rare to see the relationship between dogs and children described so well.

Maremma Sheepdog

Unfortunately, as the book progressed I began to lose interest. I felt as though I’d read variations of this plot many times before, with books like The Road by Cormac McCarthy or Blindness by José Saramago covering similar scenarios with greater power. It didn’t add any new thoughts to the genre and I was able to predict the direction of the plot.

If you’re a massive fan of apocalyptic fiction then this is a quick, enjoyable read but I’ll probably have forgotten about most of it in a few months time.




7 replies on “Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti”

Jackie! Hellooooooo. Where have you been? So nice to see a message from Farm Lane Books in my in box again. Hope you are well.

I too loved “I’m not scared”. Although I’m always wary and try to avoid books with a child protagonist, “Scared” was done very well. If you are not overly enthusiastic about this one, quoting The Road and Blindness as better books, (I’ve read both) I’ll definitely give this one a miss.

Hi Ifi, Yes, sorry for the absence. All’s well here – I am just busy with the new house and garden. I hope you’re well too.

Yes, child protagonists are very difficult to pull off. He managed so well with ‘I’m Not Scared’ that this was a little disappointing in comparison. Let’s hope our next reads are amazing!

Agree entirely with your summary of this book. I thought the beginning was really well done but thought it lacked originality and interest towards the end. I can recommend Me and You by this author as well.

Sharkell, It’s good to know that I’m not alone in my thoughts on this one. Thanks for letting me know that Me and You is good – I’ll add it to my wishlist!

I too loved I’m Not Scared but I didn’t get a free copy of Anna. 🙁

You’re right about this being a very common plot. It goes back to at least the original Star Trek series which featured an episode about this very idea, a virus that kills only adults. There’s been so many versions of this story, that I think it really is time for a virus that does the opposite, just to balance everything out.

Didn’t you think the story broke down a bit towards the end of I’m Not Scared? It’s been a few years since I read it, but as I recall the first two-thirds worked much better than the last part.

I am in nearly the same place you are, blog wise. The rest of my life is starting to pull me away from the book blogging community. I’m still reviewing everything I read, but taking much longer to do it and starting to do multi-book posts now and then. We move on as we move on.

Wherever live takes you, I wish you all the best. You are one of the bloggers who has made this so much fun to do over the years.

James, Sorry for being so neglectful of this blog and only replying to your comment now.

I don’t remember feeling that I’m Not Scared lost the plot towards the end. It has been several years since I read it, but I remember loving it all. Perhaps if you’d pointed out the plot problems straight after I’d finished I might have agreed with you?

Thank you for the kind words. I have fond memories of our time blogging. Sadly it just isn’t the same community anymore, so I fear this blog will slowly die. It’s good to hear you’re still managing to review everything – I’m off to your blog to see what you’ve read recently.

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