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The extraordinary new dystopian novel from the author of the international best seller I'm Not Scared.
Summer has ended, but the heat will not let up. Ash has covered everything. Weeds and wheat grow around the cars abandoned in the road. Anna and Astor live in the house behind the fence, surviving in a world stripped of adults.
The rooms are piled high with rubbish. Their mother's skeleton lies perfect on the bed. And every few days, Anna must head out beyond the fence for provisions and medicine. Each time she goes, she may never come back.
A huge best seller in Italy, Anna is a story about the survival of the human spirit after the worst has happened.
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- Rachel Redford
When a virus has wiped out all the grown-ups
It’s 2020 in post-apocalyptic Sicily and Anna and her younger brother Astor are trying to run away from a pack of roaming hungry dogs along the motorway from Palermo. The Red Fever, a sort of hideous plague which starts with red blotches at puberty, has wiped out all the adults and the remaining children scratching some kind of existence will succumb once they reach 14.
As Anna and Astor roam the neighbourhood eating what food they can find in wrecked discarded houses however repellent, in a landscape of desolation and emptiness. Some groups of children offer brief sanctuary, others danger and menace. Anna’s life is made up of loss including her mother whose skeleton she and her brother keep tenderly in bed for some time, and her only friend who tries to hide his blotches. Anna and Astor’s one comfort is Fluffy, the white dog which attaches himself to them and needs them as much as they need him. There are scenes of tremendous drama: a go-cart crash, slavering dogs; Anna’s desperate search for Astor when he is taken away; a battle with a huge octopus which wraps its tentacles around Anna.
But it’s not sensational, everything seems credible including the myths with their undercurrent of horror which grow up amongst the children. They believe that being kissed by the ‘Little Lady’, a barely-alive damaged child kept in an old spa-hotel, will give them immunity – or perhaps they will have to burn her first and eat her ashes.
Anna decides the only slender hope of survival is that they should cross to mainland Italy and find those adults who were immune and survived – if they exist. The journey she makes with Astor across the island and across the sea on an old pedalo is heart-stopping. The account of Fluffy refusing to get on the pedalo and what happens from then (I’m not spoiling it) had me completely statue-still just listening and waiting.
It’s a great listen and Eve Alexander as the narrator is brilliant at being a totally convincing 13 year-old child struggling to be adult, contrasting with the pure child of young Astor.
3 people found this helpful
Limp post-apocalyptic story
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
No. I have loved Ammaniti's previous novels and enjoy a good post-apocalyptic yarn but felt this story fell flat on both counts. He is a writer who can really capture the mind and speech rhythm of children but felt neither worked here.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
I think Ammaniti should stick to the world he knows.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
Unlike the previous reviewer I felt that the narrator's school-prefect-like delivery was totally unsuited to the gritty, unsophisticated girl Anna is meant to be. I got more and more irritated by it as the story progressed.
Do you think Anna needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
No. Definitely not. Ammaniti should stick to the real world.
What did you like most about Anna?
Would you be willing to try another book from Niccolò Ammaniti? Why or why not?
Not unless it had the same narrator
Which scene did you most enjoy?
When the dog became a faithful companion, and when it described how the children rebuilt the skeleton of mama
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Any additional comments?
Please do more Eva. I'll listen to all your books. You had me hooked after listening to you read The Italian girl. I have since listed to two more Lucinda Riley books only to discover it was not necessarily the author I fell in love with. Though I must say The Italian Girl's journey from the piedigrotta, a tale of passionate love and opera, was sheer brilliance. I have listened to it two or three times and each time it sweeps me away on a journey.