Friday, August 21, 2015

Long Live The Queen

"She's an emotional train wreck,
but fuck she's a beautiful disaster."
--Dawn Ius, Anne & Henry

Genre: YA Contemporary, Re-Telling
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 304
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
Source: eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Goodreads Description

In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.
Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.
I’m not even sure where to begin because I have so many feelings about this book that this will more than likely be an outpouring of flails and me begin a spaz all over the place. Ok, let's try and break this down...

First of all, I need to state the obvious and say I loved this book. From the first few pages I knew I lied to myself at 9 o’clock at night when I told myself I would just “start” the book before bed knowing full well I would probably not sleep until I finished it. I was nervous to start it, I'm not going to lie, because I love Anne Boleyn so incredibly most likely to an unhealthy level because she is just SO inspiring and I had NO idea how this was going to be changed to make her story modern…and it BLEW me away. Every piece of the plot was so perfect and in parallel to the real story that I think I was slack-jawed through most of my reading experience.

Call me an idiot, but I really had no idea how this story was going to play out in modern day and the way it was done was so relevant to today AND 100% representative of her true story. I'm not about to go crazy here--even though I want to--and dissect how and why part of the plot were perfectly representative because ain't nobody got time for that. I also don't want to start a conflict between people who didn't enjoy it. I've seen my fair share of reviews criticizing how this story doesn't relate to the true story at all...and IF I were to make a rebuttal to that all I'll say is I would maybe read a few more books and not rely on Hollywood's version of The Tudors as your sources. I mean, that's what I would say if I were going to go there...which of course, I'm not...

So where to begin? Let's start with the major players. Henry. Oh, Henry. And oh, Dawn. The best part of reading this version of this historic and epic story was getting to fall in love with Henry right along with Anne. I was actually rooting for Henry for quote awhile while I was reading! He is charming, a little dorky, and enthralled with Anne. The attention he gives her makes her feel like she's finally alive and waking up after being unhappy for so long. They share an extremely passionate and deep connection, both in this story and in history. People forget how long Henry pursued Anne. She wasn't a fling or a sudden obsession. He courted her for YEARS....years, people. Anne's story is tragic and her ending horrific but before Henry went bats hit there was a lot of love there. And love makes you do crazy things but...I digress...

Because of that love though, there was a small part of me that was hoping against hope that just maaaaaaybe things would be different this time. I do that with all my Tudor historical fiction though. No joke, every book I read from that time, it doesn’t matter that I know what will happen, there’s always that small hope that things will end up different than what history gave us…I’m a hopeless romantic, what can I say? 

But I loved that the book made me feel like I wanted to root for Henry because that is true to history as well, like I said above with all the love they did share at one time. I wanted him to defy his friends and family and choose the life HE wanted rather than the life that was put out before him. I don’t know if you ever watched America’s Next Top Model, but there’s an episode where Tyra Banks yells at a contestant, ‘I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!” That’s what I felt about Henry  and when I could see him being manipulated back into the fold, I wanted him to be his own person and not listen to his awful friends and family. But alas, he’s still a right bastard today as he was then.

But again, I digress a little and let's get to the main event. Let me talk about my girl, Anne...

I am pretty sure I fell in love with Anne in the second chapter--or was it the third?--when we find out she has a tongue piercing. Amazing. She was all things kickass and gave zero fucks. She refuses to cower to other, she stands up for herself, she puts assholes in their place, but she's also looking for affection and acceptance. I love, love, LOVED how she was this beautiful juxtaposition of strength yet vulnerability. She refused to be seen as weak but at her core she just wanted to be loved and accepted and how this was shown tore at my heart strings. The emotions she goes through and the manipulation she is subjected to broke my fucking heart. The trials (literal) and tribulations she goes through felt so poignant and I was able to relate to her feelings so acutely I could feel it in my chest. I just fell in love with her story and her struggle and my heart was aching towards the end. 

I know I touched on this briefly above but I have to say again that the interpretation of making Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn's story relevant to a modern YA retelling was brilliant. Every piece of the puzzle fell into place and made total sense to today's issues and teenage problems. I was blown away by how this tale of politics and religious dissent and beheadings 550 odd years ago was molded into modern and fresh yet totally familiar. I loved and dreaded every second of this tragic story but it was everything I was hoping for and more. And as always...Anne Boleyn Is My Homegirl. 
If you love Anne Boleyn, amazing storytelling, and poignant emotional tales...this book's for you.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading Anne & Henry! I think it was so interesting and quite clever how Dawn managed to relay this story in a modern YA contemporary way. She definitely managed to capture the essences of Henry and Anne perfectly with their "updated" personalities (you know what I mean), and I really admired that. Like you said, this one was so hard to put down once I'd started! And even though I knew what would happen... I was still wishing for a better ending for them both.


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