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Anna

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A chilling feminist novel set in a near-future dystopia, Anna explores the conflicts between selfhood and expectations, safety and control, and the sacrifices we make for the sake of protection. Beaten. Branded. Defiant. Anna is a possession. She is owned by the man named Will, shielded from the world of struggles by his care. He loves her, protects her, and then breaks her. A chilling feminist novel set in a near-future dystopia, Anna explores the conflicts between selfhood and expectations, safety and control, and the sacrifices we make for the sake of protection. Beaten. Branded. Defiant. Anna is a possession. She is owned by the man named Will, shielded from the world of struggles by his care. He loves her, protects her, and then breaks her. Anna is obedient, dutiful, and compliant. Anna does not know her place in the world. When she falls pregnant, Anna leaves her name behind, and finds the strength to run. But the past - and Will - catch up with her in an idyllic town with a dark secret, and this time, it’s not just Anna who is at risk.


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A chilling feminist novel set in a near-future dystopia, Anna explores the conflicts between selfhood and expectations, safety and control, and the sacrifices we make for the sake of protection. Beaten. Branded. Defiant. Anna is a possession. She is owned by the man named Will, shielded from the world of struggles by his care. He loves her, protects her, and then breaks her. A chilling feminist novel set in a near-future dystopia, Anna explores the conflicts between selfhood and expectations, safety and control, and the sacrifices we make for the sake of protection. Beaten. Branded. Defiant. Anna is a possession. She is owned by the man named Will, shielded from the world of struggles by his care. He loves her, protects her, and then breaks her. Anna is obedient, dutiful, and compliant. Anna does not know her place in the world. When she falls pregnant, Anna leaves her name behind, and finds the strength to run. But the past - and Will - catch up with her in an idyllic town with a dark secret, and this time, it’s not just Anna who is at risk.

30 review for Anna

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan's Reviews

    My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. The first part of the story was excruciating: graphic descriptions of violence - which I abhor but which I endured because of the importance of the subject matter. The second half of the story was so bland it almost put me into a coma. If this was done as a form of literary juxtaposition and contrast, it did not work for me - at all. To make things worse, there were glaring errors in the na My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. The first part of the story was excruciating: graphic descriptions of violence - which I abhor but which I endured because of the importance of the subject matter. The second half of the story was so bland it almost put me into a coma. If this was done as a form of literary juxtaposition and contrast, it did not work for me - at all. To make things worse, there were glaring errors in the narrative which led me to believe that the editor stopped revising/correcting the manuscript too early because they wanted to rush it to publication. The first half of this novel was a tough, tense read. We knew what was coming. We foolishly hoped Anna would find a way to escape, but the blurb for this novel already intimated that Anna's fate was sealed. Sammy H.K Smith maintained a constant state of dread during what I call the capture and rape chapters. Quite frankly, I was horrified by the graphic descriptions of Will's merciless brutality - all done in the name of needing to "protect Anna." Brute strength rules in this dystopian society, but it is still unclear to me why certain women were allowed to co-exist freely alongside those brutal men in that lawless town. It was also never really clear why Daniel/Will was known by these two names by different people in the town. (At one point I naively suspected that Will (Daniel?) was really an undercover agent!!! But, no... that was just wishful thinking on my part.) Daniel/Will described Anna as beautiful and fragile, and therefore she was in need of protection. (So, if I am reading things correctly, any sign of weakness meant you could not be free or be part of the "ruling" or dominant class, and instead you had to "serve" or be enslaved in this new dystopian society?) The author gives us hints here and there that Will/Daniel/Peter was once a decent human being, but that somehow (perhaps because of his experiences during the war?) he became this warped, obsessive, sadistically cruel fiend. The problem is that we don't get any background for Will/Daniel/Peter, (Instead, we are fed lots of "go nowhere" innuendo.) We get plenty of flashbacks to Anna's previous life with her husband Stephen, but I couldn't figure out why, in the first half of the book, Anna states that she had cut ties with her parents and brother because they had reported her and Stephen's intention to run away before he was conscripted into the army. Then, in the second half of the book, Anna/Kate regrets not telling her family she still loved them and that the reason she was angry at them was because they had revealed her affair with another man to Stephen? The plot line became so garbled and disconcerting at this point. Was anybody (the editor?) keeping track of the plot lines? Or perhaps the second part of the novel was taking place in another dimension? Like, in the Twilight Zone? The last two parts of this novel could not hold a candle to the first. We go from relentless brutality and depravity to community meetings and a debate as to whether the Enforcers in Anna/Kate's new town should take the extra time to collect books for their inadequate local library. We learn that all is not sunshine and roses in Kate's new community. Domestic violence still exists: people are oblivious, look the other way or the abused spouse is unwilling to "create waves" or seek help. So in this dystopian society, some things never seem to change. I'm disappointed that I have to rate this a 1.5 out of 5, rounded down to a 1. As I've said, the story started off well - too well, in fact! As I said above, I was considering DNFing this book because I was deeply disturbed by all the graphic descriptions of violence. But I decided to just grit my teeth and push through to the end because of the very important subject matter. The plot and characterization were uneven. I actually checked my ereader to make sure that I had not accidentally closed one book and opened another one from my Kindle library: it felt like I was reading two different stories. The ending left me with more questions than answers, and I wished that the author had spent more time on Will/Daniel/Peter's backstory instead of all of those town hall meetings and community gatherings. (Those scenes came across as filler to me.) There was so much advance hype about this book, but for me, the overall novel fell far short of my initial expectations. I keep wondering if I read the same book all the 5-star reviewers read: the last part of the book was dull and sloooooooow and full of plot errors! PostScript: I've had time to think about why this book disappointed me so much - why I felt it let us readers down, apart from the uneven writing. Being a pacifist, I believe in education, not extermination, and group efforts at reform versus vigilantism, whenever possible. If you want to read a better treatment of the theme of rape culture, I would recommend reading All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, and Ruta Sepetys's Salt to the Sea. Both of those novels described the horrors of the systematic rape of women and children as the Russian and allied forces advanced through Germany and Eastern Europe. (There is also Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale - I love the TV series.) The movie, The Keeping Room, with Brit Marling, Muna Otaru and Hailee Steinfeld, also does a much better job of exposing humanity's base and brutal nature when anarchy reigns supreme. At one point, a marauding Union soldier, who has been terrorizing the three women on their isolated plantation, is asked why he and the other soldiers are raping the Confederate women as they march further and further south. If I remember correctly, his response was: "I don't know." Obviously, war (and anarchy) bring out the worst in us. (Hobbes was right.) Muna Otaru's scene, where she dispassionately describes her life-long rape at the hands of her plantation "owners," left me in bitter, angry tears, sick to my stomach and raging on her behalf. The ending of this movie - despite the future horrors the three women must inevitably face - was empowering: they would face what was to come together. In this story, violence was met with violence. Is the author trying to suggest that our quest to end violence against women is hopeless? That our only solution is to kill/destroy our oppressor, because we cannot hope to change society? I prefer to uphold education and reform every time - to keep trying. Evolution, not devolution.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Talia Soloman

    CW: rape, sexual assault, violence, slavery (?) SPOILERS BELOW This is going to be long. I’m sorry. I have so much to write. First off, I’d heard mixed things about this novel on some reading sites. It was either something readers were loving or they couldn’t connect and didn’t understand why it was written and felt it was boring. I understand. As a survivor of abuse myself this book really hit home with me and I researched the author and understand how she writes this subject matter with such pe CW: rape, sexual assault, violence, slavery (?) SPOILERS BELOW This is going to be long. I’m sorry. I have so much to write. First off, I’d heard mixed things about this novel on some reading sites. It was either something readers were loving or they couldn’t connect and didn’t understand why it was written and felt it was boring. I understand. As a survivor of abuse myself this book really hit home with me and I researched the author and understand how she writes this subject matter with such perfect insight that it is utterly painful and bleak. Whilst this is fiction it has a strong message and theme that makes it a hard read and I loved the authenticity of the human reactions to the trauma. It is insidious in places and the entire timespan of the novel around a year. Recovery and rebuilding confidence and character takes years and this is a subtle message in the book that could absolutely be stronger and louder in my opinion – but that’s probably my only criticism. Anna’s story takes us through the cycle of trauma and abuse. I cannot rave enough about how much I empathised with her. She is not perfect and she shows us that, but she tries to hold on to her spirit even when she is raped over and over again until there’s almost nothing left and she is a shell of the woman before the wars and her capture. Sometimes she makes no sense in what she says or does and that adds to the realness for me. Then she falls pregnant. I read a little snippet where Anna talks to herself and the memory of her dead husband about them wanting a baby and then her rapist impregnates her – heartbreaking. When pregnant she knows she has to escape to build a better life for the baby and she arrives at a quiet shore-side town. The pace really slows here and the author tells us it’s going to be slow with the introduction of the town in the first few paragraphs. Anna (Kate) is still in the water, letting it wash over her and pull her down – gorgeous metaphoric imagery here. If you’re a survivor you know that sometimes you want the world to stop and to forget everything. This new town appears alright. Friendly and welcoming. Until we see a man wrongly and deliberately accused of murder so someone can get a better home, and the domestic violence of one of the controlling members of the town against his husband. These small subtle threads of story are easily missed, but not to Anna/Kate. She sees all of this. She is hypersensitive to the cruelties around her and everything is so hard for her. She has gone from years alone, to being possessed by a violent psychopath, to a place where she is expected to chat and take part in mundane activities. All she wants is to be alone but she knows she has to adapt as she can’t raise her baby in the cruelty of the unlands (the place outside of these towns where crime and violence is rife). It’s a slower pace than the violent in-your-face abuse of the start, but she is now healing, that is a slower, quieter process. The baddies start to come out too – a controlling member called Simon who is cruel and misogynistic and yet hides his own sexual identity and so utterly hypocritical, and the ominous threat of the enforcers who are supposed to protect the townspeople but seem to control them more than anything. I loved this section of the book where we almost step back a little and just view what has become of the world and realise that very little has changed. We’re still selfish, lying bastards who stamp on each other to get ahead – but then we have the bubbly Hailey and Nikky, the honest Glen, and the wary but also-healing Deven (love this character. Small part but perfectly executed) and they remind us that good people still exist. It gives us hope. Anna starts to free up and open up. She’s heavily pregnant and the church minister/clergyman shows a friendly and light romantic interest in her which she protects herself from. As she starts to open up ---SPOILER STOP NOW --- the abuser from earlier turns up under a new guise and turns out to be friends with Simon from before the wars. Readers, this was agony to read. A narcissist and controlling abuser he ingratiates himself into her new world and friendship circle, becoming best friends with her own best friend and makes it impossible for her to tell them who he is and what he’s done. You see, this is exactly what I can relate to and I was furiously angry reading this book. Furious at Anna for not saying anything and furious with her friends for not realising she was not O.K. When he held her baby I was shaking and wanted to lash out at him and was screaming for her to just snatch the child away and tell everyone there and then. We see her break again, the confidence chipped away until the final few chapters and I won’t spoil that for you. Needless to say I was riveted. It’s hard to say whether I enjoyed this book. Revisiting painful memories is never fun or joyful, but it’s the sort of book I needed to read. Sometimes I want to feel seen and heard and that my experiences matter to people. This book matters I came away feeling that it’s O.K to not fight all the time and that I’m not alone. Anna has no choice at the end, she cries when the realisation hits. This isn't a story that tells the reader violence is the answer, it's the opposite and I urge you all to read this I was hooked and read this book in just over a day. Thank you for sharing 5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kris Richards

    I received an ARC of this and wow, it didn't disappoint. I've read Smith's work before, but this is the next level *TRIGGER WARNING* - this is not an easy read and nor is this a love story. This is a story that deals with abuse, identity, and a craving for normality when everything is falling apart. Our main character is alone and dealing with the fallout of a world war while fighting for survival in a harsh world where laws and society have crumbled. Unfortunately she is captured and becomes the I received an ARC of this and wow, it didn't disappoint. I've read Smith's work before, but this is the next level *TRIGGER WARNING* - this is not an easy read and nor is this a love story. This is a story that deals with abuse, identity, and a craving for normality when everything is falling apart. Our main character is alone and dealing with the fallout of a world war while fighting for survival in a harsh world where laws and society have crumbled. Unfortunately she is captured and becomes the property of a man who calls himself Will/Daniel who convinces himself he loves her and that she loves him. He is abusive, controlling, gas lighting and narcissistic. I think it would be fair to call him a psychopath. Anna is the opposite. She hides her true self to remain compliant and has to repeatedly remind herself not to fight back, not to make him angry, not to do anything that might anger him – else she could die. This is a story about survival in the rawest forms. What we do to survive, how we survive and how it affects us. The first person narration is uncomfortable at times. We see our main character fall apart in front of us and slowly rebuild into someone new. Their scars and pain clear to all who they might meet. I liked the way this was broken down into three parts and in each part we see a different side to Anna and the world she lives in. The ‘accompanying cast’ of characters are cleverly layered and rich with their own backstories and pain. The first person narration is uncomfortable at times. We see our main character fall apart in front of us and slowly rebuild into someone new. Their scars and pain clear to all who they might meet. The dystopia was an added bonus. It allowed the novel an indulgent quality without distracting from the story. The world has been at war and in part 2 we learn a little as to why and what happened through the stories of townspeople. It’s subtle, but well thought out. I can't really discuss the plot without spoilers, but part 3 had me on the edge of my seat and I spent hours turning each page, willing for the resolution Anna deserved. The language is beautiful, almost poetic in some scenes, and this is absolutely a novel for those who enjoy strong female characters who don’t immediately show their strength. I was thinking about this long after I finished it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shalini Boland

    Oh wow!! Gripping and haunting, Anna is an intense and powerful page-turner. Set against a dystopian backdrop where women are treated as property, the plot deals with abuse, power, identity and feminism. The story dives straight into the action when Anna, who has been surviving on her own for a couple of years, is captured by a stranger. This book pulls no punches. It’s uncomfortable at times. There is no soft lens for the reader to squint behind. We’re shown the terrifying workings of a psychopa Oh wow!! Gripping and haunting, Anna is an intense and powerful page-turner. Set against a dystopian backdrop where women are treated as property, the plot deals with abuse, power, identity and feminism. The story dives straight into the action when Anna, who has been surviving on her own for a couple of years, is captured by a stranger. This book pulls no punches. It’s uncomfortable at times. There is no soft lens for the reader to squint behind. We’re shown the terrifying workings of a psychopath with all his disregard for another’s freedom. And we feel every scrape of the chain, every hopeless second that drags by for Anna. There’s little relief. Despite that, I could barely set the book down. I just had to keep flipping the pages to find out what happens to her. I enjoyed the unpredictability of the narrative, the way it’s split into three distinct parts, each intriguing and horrific in its own way with characters to love and hate. The tenseness of the final section was excruciating and I was rigid with fear and anticipation, literally screaming at Anna at several points. Would she find the strength? Please let her!! Anna is a totally immersive read. Dark and compelling, you’ll want to clear a schedule to make time to read this because once you start, it will be hard to stop.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    So sorry but this is absolutely not my cup of Cabernet. When I read the plot about a brave woman’s liberating herself, running away from brutality to form a bran new life, I thought I was going to read something inspirational about women power with strong feminism vibes. The first half of the book was so intense, graphically violence, extremely brutal for my taste. I kept gritting my teeth, clenching my fists, getting hard times to hold my vomit, hating everything I’ve read about Anna endured! So sorry but this is absolutely not my cup of Cabernet. When I read the plot about a brave woman’s liberating herself, running away from brutality to form a bran new life, I thought I was going to read something inspirational about women power with strong feminism vibes. The first half of the book was so intense, graphically violence, extremely brutal for my taste. I kept gritting my teeth, clenching my fists, getting hard times to hold my vomit, hating everything I’ve read about Anna endured! Anna is owned by Will: psychopath, merciless animal ( I cannot define him as a human being) he branded her, he beat her, he raped her and he manipulated her all the things he has done was her own good, for her own protection! Anna became obedient, dutiful, losing herself , losing the meaning of her existence. He breaks her into pieces! After getting pregnant, Anna gathers her strength to rebel and save her child from the stinking community she lives. She decides to run and save herself during the aftermath of global war and entire society’s crashing down! She escapes to a quite shore-side town, welcomed by its townies with open hands. She feels like she finds a community more peaceful. But the darkness she’s been fighting so long is about to catch her and the tremendous, torturous past she’s lived with Will is gonna leave her alone. The second half of the book makes you feel like you’re reading another book. The pace is slowed down. The community gatherings and picking right books for the library seem like the most important concerns of the people. There are also many plot holes about back stories of the characters. Why Will turn into such a villain? And why Anna really got estranged from her family? So many things didn’t make any sense. And after reaching the finish line I thought things would make more sense but it didn’t! There are tons of question marks dance above my head. With its dystopian world and the women’s liberating acts against brutal men population may be great plot line with high potential. Even though the beginning was too disturbing and violent for my taste, I kept reading to see some hopeful revelations and smart conclusion but o didn’t get any of it. So I’m only rounding up 2.5 stars to 3 because of promising start but overall I’m an unpopular reviewer for this journey because it didn’t fit my expectations. Special thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion/ Solaris for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John Dodd

    Content warning for Sexual and Physical violence I got a free advance copy of Sammy HK Smith’s Anna, and while I finished it on the day that I started reading it, Sammy wanted me to hold back the review till nearer the time for release. I held… Wasn’t easy… Anna begins with an assault, and then an imprisonment, and what can only be described as torture. This is not torture in the pulling fingernails out sort of way, this instead is the steady erosion of confidence and the lack of control where you’r Content warning for Sexual and Physical violence I got a free advance copy of Sammy HK Smith’s Anna, and while I finished it on the day that I started reading it, Sammy wanted me to hold back the review till nearer the time for release. I held… Wasn’t easy… Anna begins with an assault, and then an imprisonment, and what can only be described as torture. This is not torture in the pulling fingernails out sort of way, this instead is the steady erosion of confidence and the lack of control where you’re in a situation that others say you should just walk out of, but when you’re on the inside of it, it’s really not so very easy. I’ve been in abusive relationships, I’ve been there when I doubted that I was sane, that what I was going through was real, that it couldn’t be happening to me, and yet it was, and that’s how those sorts of people control you, they make you believe that you can’t fight them, that you can’t win, and that; You Belong To Them This is how the story begins, and an uncomfortable read it was, I did pause on many pages while I thought about what I was reading, and as the story went on, I wanted to see Anna escape, to run free, to find a better life, and she does, but her assailant follows her, and that’s when the story really comes into its own. In the first part of the book, the scenes of imprisonment, of injury, of rape, of coercive control, were harrowing, not made lurid or titillating as other books have done, but laid bare as what they are, but it was when I got to the second part of the book that the true darkness of the situation was laid clear. What happens when you’re being controlled in plain view, when other people think that the person who is doing this to you is a nice person, that they’re your friend, that you want to spend time with them because you dare not go against them. How much worse is a prison when no one knows that you’re in it. Anna is superb, it won’t be for everyone, because the scenes are written with such power that they burn from the page and into your mind, and the subject matter won’t be something that everyone can read. And I understand why that is. Some will say that it’s written to shock, to horrify people, and I don’t see it that way, this book is truth, it’s what happens when bastards can turn the world against you, it’s what happens when no one believes you, it’s what happens when the prison isn’t visible, but you’re still in it. But you’re here, wondering what happens in the book, because I haven’t told you anything about the events in the book, and that’s for good reason, I could wax lyrical for days on this book and what it means, but all I’m doing is telling you the shortened version of a story that shouldn’t be shortened. Anna is the story of a woman who suffers as many millions of other people do every day in silence, she finds her strength, but it isn’t enough, and she has to find more, not just for her, but for the child that she was made to carry, and the life that she could one day lead. Anna is a masterpiece.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Wow!! Anna was extremely unsettling and dark, yet I could not put it down. I don’t usually give five stars to books, but this one deserves them all. If you read this be aware of trigger warnings for rape, psychological and physical abuse, among others. This book delves into some heavy topics and is often bleak, but it never feels gratuitous. It feels like you’re right there with Anna. This is a dystopian novel that immediately starts with the main character, Anna, who is captured by a man who end Wow!! Anna was extremely unsettling and dark, yet I could not put it down. I don’t usually give five stars to books, but this one deserves them all. If you read this be aware of trigger warnings for rape, psychological and physical abuse, among others. This book delves into some heavy topics and is often bleak, but it never feels gratuitous. It feels like you’re right there with Anna. This is a dystopian novel that immediately starts with the main character, Anna, who is captured by a man who ends up stripping her of all autonomy and tries to break her. This is a dangerous world where wars have broken out across the globe and people are left dealing with the aftermath and are fighting to survive. It’s a world where one’s rights can be stripped away without anyone blinking and where a narrow, regressed view of morality rules. Even though this novel is hard to read there are parts where hope and happiness seep through. This book will take the breath out of you. Thank you Netgalley, Rebellion and the author for a digital ARC of this book!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tixie Dean

    I've waited a few days before writing this review as the book stayed with me for the longest time. I think what the author has done here is write something so focused on the main character and her road to recovery that it can appear other parts have been neglected and so initially I was going to rate 3 stars, but let me explain to y'all why I don't think that's the case here. It's only when I found myself replaying the story in my mind and her comments and actions that I realised this is all abou I've waited a few days before writing this review as the book stayed with me for the longest time. I think what the author has done here is write something so focused on the main character and her road to recovery that it can appear other parts have been neglected and so initially I was going to rate 3 stars, but let me explain to y'all why I don't think that's the case here. It's only when I found myself replaying the story in my mind and her comments and actions that I realised this is all about the MC Anna/Kate and how she deals with the violence and abuse in part 1. At times her thoughts are chaotic and move from desperate and monotone, to crazed and sure with confidence and purpose and this is really evident in part 3. One minute she is driven, the next being sick. This is a victim who is facing her demons. Her character is passive and doesn't react aggressively to confrontation and so I wasn't expecting a grandiose ending. What I got was strength and a sense of unbeatable satisfaction. I spoke about neglected aspects. The reader isn't told much about the world or the 'rules' of such, but that's ok. We know enough to get a feel for the atmosphere and it allows us to focus on who matters - Anna. The plotline with her husband doesn't appear to be a plotline other than *spoilers* she told the reader that they had marital issues and eventually admits she had an affair. It gave us another sense of who she was as the guilt she carries about this starts to lift by part 3 and whatever punishment she thought she deserved she realises she doesn't. It was a nice addition that further rounded the character off. I particularly liked a few characters in part 2. The small boy was an complete delight and the author captured a broken child who has seen horrific and numbing things and cannot process these, and the abusive Councilman and his husband show that abuse is still prevalent even in a supposed idyllic community. I loved the changes in pace and tone for the three parts of the book. Part 1 is close, brutal, and dark. We feel everything Anna feels and it's shocking. Y'all, I put the book down more times than I can recall and cried at the scene in the bedroom. It was so impactive and visceral. It was written too well in places and I commend the author for this. Part 2 is quieter and gave me time to get my bearings and understand what's going on. We are reading this through Anna's eyes and she is dealing with a trauma and the consequences of what happened in part 1 and building new relationships and learning to socialise and trust. She thinks she's found somewhere safe but we soon realise, through meetings and conservations, that this paradise is just as dark and aggressive as the world outside the gates and peace and decent humanity isn't something we can force. A nice snippet of social commentary. Part 3 and back to the unlands. The cycle was fantastic and y'all there's a scene in the rain that is shocking and beautiful and haunting and so literary that i'm not sure this can be classed as a dystopian novel. This is literary fiction with symbolism through and through. Don't read this expecting it be a fast-paced book with action on every page. Or for the main character to progress and grow at a predictable rate. There isn't action everywhere. She doesn't grow with clockwork authority. She's a victim healing from abuse and like any of us she'll have good days and bad. This book is a triumphant piece of literary fiction exploring the journey of a victim and how they recapture life after their trauma.

  9. 4 out of 5

    S. Naomi Scott

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars DISCLAIMER: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. My thanks to Rebellion Publishing for giving me this opportunity. This review may contain spoilers. Okay, first things first: the content warnings. This book covers some pretty violent topics, including sexual violence, rape, enslavement, and torture, and a lot of that happens in the first third of the story. Suffice to say, this book may not be for every My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars DISCLAIMER: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. My thanks to Rebellion Publishing for giving me this opportunity. This review may contain spoilers. Okay, first things first: the content warnings. This book covers some pretty violent topics, including sexual violence, rape, enslavement, and torture, and a lot of that happens in the first third of the story. Suffice to say, this book may not be for everyone. I have to admit, this was not an easy book to get to grips with, mainly because of those elements mentioned above. That said, there’s something about the way the story is presented that makes it compelling; we want to know how the titular character copes with the hardships she’s forced to endure at the start of the story, or if she can get away from the man who’s making her life a misery. Along the way, we’re given glimpses into a world where the normal rules of civilised behaviour seem to have been well and truly abandoned, and left with a sense that this is how the world is now. If you need a good example of a dystopian future, you could do worse than the first twelve chapters of this book. Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, the story starts with Anna’s capture, and explores the way she is broken down by her captor through violence, humiliation, and emotional abuse. We’re told the entire story from Anna’s point of view, and have to watch helplessly from the sidelines as her will to fight is gradually eroded by the brutal treatment of a man who claims he just wants to love and care for her. Through Anna’s eyes, we get to see the lives of other people, and witness how they’ve adapted to the collapse of society around them, how they’ve learned to do whatever is necessary to survive in a world seemingly without rules. And we find ourselves being worn down just as much as Anna by the apparent lack of a way out of this hellish parody of civilisation. The final nail in the coffin for Anna is the moment she realises she’s pregnant with her abuser’s child. Fortunately, by the end of the first part of the narrative things take a turn for the better. Escaping her captivity, Anna becomes Kate and finds her way to a more humane settlement. This is a town where people work together, where the houses have power, and heat, and in some cases running water. Welcomed into the town by the inhabitants, a heavily pregnant Kate slowly overcomes her fear and distrust and gradually becomes a productive member of society once again, taking charge of the town’s library, and helping with the implementation of a school for the local kids. And just as she’s beginning to take the safety and comfort for granted, the dark-eyed abuser from the first part of the novel comes back into her life. As I’ve already mentioned, despite the dark tone and gut-wrenchingly brutal narrative, there’s something seriously compelling about this book. The way we’re so intimately inside Anna/Kate’s head throughout the story makes it our story as well. We suffer as she suffers, and view everyone she meets with the same trepidation and paranoia. But we also get to watch as she rebuilds her confidence, and can’t help but cheer her on as she digs deep inside herself for the strength she needs to overcome the forces ranged against her. We want Anna/Kate to succeed, because if she fails, then we’ve failed as well. And that’s where this book works so well. It’s one hell of a ride, but it’s a ride worth taking. A solid four and a half stars for this one, and a strong hope that there’s a sequel so I can find out if Simon gets what’s coming to him, and if Rich ever gets his picnic.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter McLean

    I am going to be completely honest and admit I almost didn't finish this. Not because it's bad; quite the opposite. "Harrowing" is a very over-used term, often applied to things that are merely a bit upsetting. This book is harrowing. The author's bio states that she is a police detective specialising in domestic violence, and knowing that the events of Anna are almost certainly drawn from the real-life experiences of real people is almost too much to bear. C/W: domestic abuse, domestic violence, I am going to be completely honest and admit I almost didn't finish this. Not because it's bad; quite the opposite. "Harrowing" is a very over-used term, often applied to things that are merely a bit upsetting. This book is harrowing. The author's bio states that she is a police detective specialising in domestic violence, and knowing that the events of Anna are almost certainly drawn from the real-life experiences of real people is almost too much to bear. C/W: domestic abuse, domestic violence, graphic rape. The book is extremely well written, but to say it's an uncomfortable read is an understatement. In premise it's somewhere between The Death of Grass and The Handmaid's Tale, a near-future dystopian SF, but ultimately it's the story of a survivor, of inner strength and ultimate redemption in the face of overwhelming suffering. Anna herself is painfully human, with her own flaws and failings the same as anyone else. She feels like a real person, and if anything that makes this an even harder read. But did I mention that this book is phenomenally well written? "When the truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie." I wish I'd written that, it's just superb. I think this could be quite a polarising book. The subject matter will definitely be too much for some people, but ultimately it's an important story told impressively well. The author was clearly determined to write the abuse authentically and from the POV of the survivor. In Anna she has achieved exactly what she set out to do, and I respect that a great deal. Without spoiling the end, all I can say is I'm extremely glad I did finish it. Outstanding.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gizem-in-Wonderland

    “Adaptation, like creation and death, is one of nature’s imperatives, part of the perpetual cycle. The world has suffered, we’ve annihilated each other and yet we’ve adapted and moved on, and the land renews, it forgives. Our fitness for the world is repeatedly tested.” Brutal and painful, Anna is a dystopian fiction that will squeeze your heart into a tight ball. The world we know is torn apart by wars and conflict and replaced with chaos leading to the survival of the fittest. There’s not muc “Adaptation, like creation and death, is one of nature’s imperatives, part of the perpetual cycle. The world has suffered, we’ve annihilated each other and yet we’ve adapted and moved on, and the land renews, it forgives. Our fitness for the world is repeatedly tested.” Brutal and painful, Anna is a dystopian fiction that will squeeze your heart into a tight ball. The world we know is torn apart by wars and conflict and replaced with chaos leading to the survival of the fittest. There’s not much detail as to the hows and whys but we observe the new world from the point of the protagonist. In the first part of the story, we get to know Anna as she keeps surviving in a deadly environment for two years when she’s captured and forced to become a property of a man, living under constant physical and psychological torture. Her struggle and the overwhelming amount of violence kept me awake at nightd while reading this. The second part is about adaption to a new environment and forgetting about past while she’s haunted by past memories. As a lover of dystopia, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel even though I did not like the character flaws of our weak, victimized protagonist but she’s so real that I could not help admiring her in the end. A must-read for the lovers of the genre but keep in mind that it deserves all the trigger warnings that we women readers care about. (I received a free advanced copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

  12. 5 out of 5

    G.R. Matthews

    Review on Fantasy-Faction The Government has fallen, society is broken, and to survive in the land you need to be intelligent, cunning, and tough. Above that though, you need to be watchful. The towns and cities are walled communities which protect those within and distrust those without. Each maintains a small armed force, and there are those who traverse the wilderness between them; bringing news, trading, and forming a tenuous network. Anna was watchful. She was careful. It wasn’t enough. Which i Review on Fantasy-Faction The Government has fallen, society is broken, and to survive in the land you need to be intelligent, cunning, and tough. Above that though, you need to be watchful. The towns and cities are walled communities which protect those within and distrust those without. Each maintains a small armed force, and there are those who traverse the wilderness between them; bringing news, trading, and forming a tenuous network. Anna was watchful. She was careful. It wasn’t enough. Which is where we join her, and her story is one you need to be prepared for. The author will not shelter you from the reality of life in this broken land, she will not hold your hand through the dark times that are coming, and she’ll demand you read, that you understand, and acknowledge it all. In return, you’ll experience every single emotion. You’ll be angry (and I was so angry at times), you’ll be scared, but you’ll be hopeful, you’ll build strength and resilience alongside Anna as you read and experience. When you emerge at the end, and I read this book over two days, you’ll be grateful to the author. I am convinced this book will be divisive. There will be hundreds and thousands, like me, who recognise the truth’s contained in this story, who appreciate the honesty that shines through the scenes and wrenches at your emotions. There will be those who are frightened by those self-same scenes—who might need to take a break, a chance to reflect, and then come back to it. I’d definitely encourage the latter to do exactly that—reflect and come back to reading. Which begs the question, what is it about this book that makes me say these things? Firstly, the author’s “real job” is one that dives deep into the dark side of human nature—she confronts it on a daily basis, she sees the harm we can do to each other, and it is from this position of knowledge she writes. Secondly, the broken society is dominated by strength and fear. Strength, not of character, but of arms and force—the towns rely on those with less of a conscience, with less empathy, to defend and to keep them safe. And those inside the towns, while appreciating the role of the defenders, fear them too. Thirdly, Anna is a strong character, she is resilient, determined, courageous, but she is broken by the abuse she suffers at the hands of her captor. It is inevitable that, given her situation and context, she does all she can, all she must to survive—the author does not revel in this, but presents it honestly. For this reason, you burn with anger, you drown in sadness, and wish for release. You stick with Anna through it all because, despite everything that happens, there is a fire within her, a spark that never dies, and hope it will catch light one day and sweep everyone who has ever hurt away. You stick with Anna because she could be any of us. There, but for the fickle finger of fate, go I. You have to read to the very end because you need to know what happens. It would be unfair to leave her there—and only by reading can you release her and yourself. There are moments of joy in the book, moments of love and laughter. The darkness is lit by those moments. Strange as it may sound after all that; I loved this book. It challenged me, drew emotions to the surface, gave me pause, time to reflect, to think, and created a believable dystopian world for it all to happen in. Buy it. Read it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alayne Emmett

    This book started off exciting and it grabbed me straight away. Unfortunately halfway through it sort of lost momentum and it started to get lost. It’s a shame as I had high hopes for this book. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    T.O. Munro

    I've just finished this ARC and will write (and link) a full review for the fantasy-hive in due course. https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2021/04/an... I've just finished this ARC and will write (and link) a full review for the fantasy-hive in due course. https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2021/04/an...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Anna is a contemporary dystopian thriller with a distinctive feminist slant. Strength comes in many forms, and Anna tells the story of one woman who becomes someone else in order to free herself. Anna is a possession. Meek. Willing. Subservient. Raped. Branded. Strong. In a post-apocalyptic near-future society a global war has devastated the Unlands in which Anna spent two years alone fighting to survive the hellish conditions which is only possible if you are intelligent, cunning and thick-skin Anna is a contemporary dystopian thriller with a distinctive feminist slant. Strength comes in many forms, and Anna tells the story of one woman who becomes someone else in order to free herself. Anna is a possession. Meek. Willing. Subservient. Raped. Branded. Strong. In a post-apocalyptic near-future society a global war has devastated the Unlands in which Anna spent two years alone fighting to survive the hellish conditions which is only possible if you are intelligent, cunning and thick-skinned. Unfortunately, though, her nightmare was just beginning as her life becomes even worse when scavenger Will captures and enslaves her; a very normal aspect of life in a broken and ungoverned society. As possessions, women, seen as weak and to be preyed upon by the strong (men), are branded like cattle, chained up and treated like animals, and Anna is shown no mercy by her captor. She quickly realises that her only way to survive this disturbing treatment is to comply with his desires as a means of self-preservation. She becomes obedient, and adopts the name Anna to distance herself from what she has been forced to become, believing it would please Will but this sadistic sociopathic abuser has other ideas. He is determined to break Anna's spirit. After months spent suffering at his hands through horrific violence and sexual assault, Anna falls pregnant and acknowledges that the only way to keep her and her baby safe from any more harm is to escape. She manages to make it to a cooperative homestead, a place of relative safety, and prepares as best she can for the birth of her son. But the horrendous pain and suffering she has endured has left a thousand scars and memories she simply cannot forget. Can she survive on her own with a baby boy in tow in such a soul-destroying world? Anna is a compelling yet uncomfortable read with a profoundly affecting and chilling narrative; it is certainly difficult to imagine this level of abuse even as someone, who like myself, has suffered at the hands of a narcissistic abuser as well as a sexual abuser. It is about one woman’s fight for survival in a cruel, damaged, socially regressed and dysfunctional society and regardless of gender, if you display any weakness, you’re fair game to those that want to control both the lands and the people. It addresses lost identity and explores issues of subjugation and abuse, but also hope and strength, and I admire Smith's unflinching depiction of violence against women and the trauma and impact this has on their life from that moment forward. This is an emotive and brutal story that'll tear your heart from your chest as it ruminates on the psychological effects of abuse both at the present moment and in the future. Its immersive, searingly intense and powerful pull no punches writing demands your attention for the entirety, unsettles you but grips you too. We follow Anna’s story and the emotional fallout of dealing with sexual abuse and PTSD in a dystopic future not far from our own reality and timeline. Her strength comes from within and she shows us that whilst physically she appears weak, she’s so much more inside.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sorcha O'Dowd

    I JUST HAVE A LOT OF EMOTIONS, OK?! 😭😭 Full Review. Content Warnings: Please read the content warnings before reading this book. It is an emotionally tough book, and deals with triggering subjects in explicit detail. TW: Rape, physical, domestic, emotional and mental abuse. ‘Anna’ is a sucker-punch of a novel that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page. It’s taken a few days for me to put my thoughts to paper, as this book really takes you through the ringer. With all the hard-h I JUST HAVE A LOT OF EMOTIONS, OK?! 😭😭 Full Review. Content Warnings: Please read the content warnings before reading this book. It is an emotionally tough book, and deals with triggering subjects in explicit detail. TW: Rape, physical, domestic, emotional and mental abuse. ‘Anna’ is a sucker-punch of a novel that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page. It’s taken a few days for me to put my thoughts to paper, as this book really takes you through the ringer. With all the hard-hitting emotions (and there are a lot of them) that this book induces in you, it is nothing short of brilliant. A haunting novel set in a near-future dystopia where women are property and men hold the power, our protagonist, Anna has survived alone for two years in the wilderness called the ‘unlands’ before being captured by Will, and becomes his possession. ‘Anna’ is an emotionally wrenching read as Anna is abused physically, emotionally and mentally, and being inside her head can make this a tough read at times. Sammy H.K. Smith pitches Anna perfectly and the gradual disassociation we witness in Anna’s inner monologue as she turns inward on herself to avoid the external during her trauma, was heartbreaking and chilling to read. I kept reading late into the night, desperate to see the glimmers of strength she had forgotten she had, but becomes reacquainted with as she journeys her road to recovery throughout the novel. To me this is above all a tale of inner strength and discovery of oneself when you realise this strength. I was so emotionally invested in Anna’s journey, and was desperate to see her continue to fight in order to keep and gain her own identity. Even when I could see how exhausted it made her, I just wanted her to find what was best for her, and become beholden to no-one but herself. The psychological elements were, to me, pitched to perfection. Whilst at times an uncomfortable read, due to the severity of abuse that Anna is put through, the realistic depiction of trauma grief and recovery was spot on, and also highlighted how different this journey can be for everyone. A completely unpredictable story that will horrify, strengthen, break your heart, patch it up and shatter it all over again. Dark, gut-wrenching, emotional, and hopeful, Anna is a triumph in feminist fiction.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nicky Browne

    A suspenseful read that explores the implications of abuse against the background of a broken and brutalised society. In the Unlands women are enslaved, traded and subject to exactly the kind of exploitation and violence that you might expect. The first person narrator adopts the pseudonym 'Anna' as she is captured and 'broken' by a man who brands and impregnates her and strips her of the sense of self she does not recover until she escapes to a more civilised community. Violence is never far b A suspenseful read that explores the implications of abuse against the background of a broken and brutalised society. In the Unlands women are enslaved, traded and subject to exactly the kind of exploitation and violence that you might expect. The first person narrator adopts the pseudonym 'Anna' as she is captured and 'broken' by a man who brands and impregnates her and strips her of the sense of self she does not recover until she escapes to a more civilised community. Violence is never far below the surface in this world in which almost anything can be justified by the need to survive. The story is not without hope and tenderness and the now renamed Kate becomes part of a community rebuilding schools and reinstating a library, trying to restore the essentials of civilisation. But it is an island of order in chaos and inevitably the separate identities of Anna and Kate collide and Anna/Kate has to decide who she is and what she will do to keep her child safe. A compelling, suspenseful read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emma Nelson

    If there was ever a book that should be made into an edge of your seat, nail gripping thriller movie- its Anna! I demolished this book in one night - turning the pages into the early morning. Anna is set in a post-apocalyptic world where women are 'owned' by men. We first meet Anna in the woods, where she is captured by Daniel/Will who claims to love her and will protect her from other men. Anna is not her real name and neither do we know Daniel/Will's real name as he changes it based upon the peo If there was ever a book that should be made into an edge of your seat, nail gripping thriller movie- its Anna! I demolished this book in one night - turning the pages into the early morning. Anna is set in a post-apocalyptic world where women are 'owned' by men. We first meet Anna in the woods, where she is captured by Daniel/Will who claims to love her and will protect her from other men. Anna is not her real name and neither do we know Daniel/Will's real name as he changes it based upon the people he meets or deals with. The story plays out over three chapters and each is more gripping than its predecessor. To give a complete review of each chapter would contain so many spoilers, which would be unfair to future readers. It truly is an absorbing read and the ending is left open for future novels - I really hope there will be a sequel.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Sauls

    CW: sexual and domestic violence Anna is a near future dystopia about a woman trying to survive alone in a world where society has completely fallen apart and people live in small, often brutal communities. It starts with Anna being taken captive by an unknown man, what she suffers at his hands and mostly centers on her escape and struggle to recover and reclaim her life and identity for herself. It is dark, thrilling, ultimately triumphant and kept me on the edge of my seat reading, and has sat CW: sexual and domestic violence Anna is a near future dystopia about a woman trying to survive alone in a world where society has completely fallen apart and people live in small, often brutal communities. It starts with Anna being taken captive by an unknown man, what she suffers at his hands and mostly centers on her escape and struggle to recover and reclaim her life and identity for herself. It is dark, thrilling, ultimately triumphant and kept me on the edge of my seat reading, and has sat heavy in my mind ever since. The depiction of Anna's trauma and especially her need to disassociate herself from it felt all too real, as well as her dread of talking about it and fear of being disbelieved. This book was a difficult one for me to read and really resonates with things I've experienced. Anna is a book that stays with you long after you finish reading.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Becca (Horners_book_corner)

    Rebellion publishing kindly gifted me a proof of Anna - I have been so keen to read this book. I am a psychologist in my day job. Whilst I primarily work with children and young people up to the age of 25, I am very interested in the longer term impact of trauma, abuse and manipulation. I see difficulties emerge in children and young people when their sense of autonomy and agency over their own lives has been limited and so reading Anna really struck home to me how important control over our own Rebellion publishing kindly gifted me a proof of Anna - I have been so keen to read this book. I am a psychologist in my day job. Whilst I primarily work with children and young people up to the age of 25, I am very interested in the longer term impact of trauma, abuse and manipulation. I see difficulties emerge in children and young people when their sense of autonomy and agency over their own lives has been limited and so reading Anna really struck home to me how important control over our own lives is. Anna is set in a scarily possible dystopian near future and is a gritty, dark and uncomfortable read. Themes include abuse, sexual assault (inc. rape), sexual slavery and violence. It is gripping in its shadows and, whilst not 'enjoyable', is relatable and understandable in the authentic and chilling expression of the worst of human emotions and behaviours. If you're interested in a book that will make you think, if you want to read more about why feminism is so important, if you want to understand better from a victims perspective, then add this to your TBR. 100 billion stars for writing about a really difficult topic in thoughtful, sensitive, gripping and relatable way.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steven Guscott

    Sammy HK Smiths first book, In Search of Gods and Heroes was a delectable treat of multiple plot lines and numerous intriguing characters. Anna’s style is very much the opposite, and is homage to Smith’s diverse writing skills. Smith keeps the plot very focused and tight, and the character pool small compared to her previous work. Yet, the journey is as rewarding with its in-depth look into a few characters. It’s a story that follows Anna through a savage world where society has broken down, and Sammy HK Smiths first book, In Search of Gods and Heroes was a delectable treat of multiple plot lines and numerous intriguing characters. Anna’s style is very much the opposite, and is homage to Smith’s diverse writing skills. Smith keeps the plot very focused and tight, and the character pool small compared to her previous work. Yet, the journey is as rewarding with its in-depth look into a few characters. It’s a story that follows Anna through a savage world where society has broken down, and brutally appears to be the only thing that has blossomed. Anna, as a character, is trying to cope with the lack of freedoms and the horrific abuse she faces. Her journey is a heart wrenching look into the feelings that occur under such tragic captivity. Smith does a great job of delving into the psychological effects of the abuse, and what it takes to live through such. The other characters are clever representation of how people can behave in this extreme environment. The difficulty with a story like this is that the topic has been explored a lot in recent years, mostly through post-apocalyptic scenarios. It’s certainly a challenge to make such a story feel fresh, but Smith does. Not through over the top narrative or environments, but by writing a very human and focused story. Anna, is captivating, both emotionally and intellectually, which makes the journey certainly worth reading.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Meicha Miller

    A strong dystopian novel concentrating on abuse and strength. There's a sense of disquietude in this novel that I find really unsettling and on reflection it makes me more uncomfortable. This is set in a near future but I feel it could happen right now to someone I know, which makes it harder to read. We go from starting in the forest, to horrific violence and darkness, to utopia then darkness, to the forest again. I loved that cycle. Pacing was unusual. Close and steady at the start as her abuser A strong dystopian novel concentrating on abuse and strength. There's a sense of disquietude in this novel that I find really unsettling and on reflection it makes me more uncomfortable. This is set in a near future but I feel it could happen right now to someone I know, which makes it harder to read. We go from starting in the forest, to horrific violence and darkness, to utopia then darkness, to the forest again. I loved that cycle. Pacing was unusual. Close and steady at the start as her abuser smothers her with his presence, slower and more chaotic in the middle with different characters coming at the MC like parasitic tendrils she bats away, and then solitude at the end, breaking her free. Great stuff.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jo McKenna-Aspell

    This is a spoiler-free review so at times it will seem vague! The book is set in the not too distant future, in our world following a global breakdown of society. Many people are nomadic, some live in small travelling groups and there are a few settled communities. As you'd expect, life has changed dramatically and for the worse. Women are owned by men, frequently branded and imprisoned. Smith creates a three part structure, in which we see the protagonist in different settings and learn differen This is a spoiler-free review so at times it will seem vague! The book is set in the not too distant future, in our world following a global breakdown of society. Many people are nomadic, some live in small travelling groups and there are a few settled communities. As you'd expect, life has changed dramatically and for the worse. Women are owned by men, frequently branded and imprisoned. Smith creates a three part structure, in which we see the protagonist in different settings and learn different things about her. We first meet The Woman (I won't name her as it could be a spoiler), who was nomadic for two years, just as she is trapped by The Man in the wild (unnamed for similar spoiler concerns). This first of three parts covers The Woman's imprisonment and abuse at the hands of The Man. It's viscerally grim and hard to stomach. The first person narrative means the reader is able to watch the impact of such abuse from a front row seat. Smith doesn't hold back: it's harrowing and authentic. The second section covers The Woman's escape and resettlement in a static community. There is hope here but Smith also deals with the impact of acute trauma. Unable to relax or let her guard down, The Woman remains cautious and careful. The other community members are brilliantly depicted by Smith - they're complicated, multi-faceted and never entirely innocent. Whilst reading, I couldn't help but reflect on my own morality. In a dystopian world, what parts of myself would I be willing to sacrifice to survive? The final section is taut. And that's pretty much all I can say without revealing narrative points which would spoil the book for the next reader. I was worried I'd be disappointed with how Smith wrapped up the tale but I was absolutely sated by it. Finishing the book, I was relieved and exhausted. My neck and jaw ached where I'd clearly been tensing as I read. I can't say I enjoyed it - it's not an enjoyable book - but I was utterly gripped by it. I read it across two days and the night in between was riddled with dreams of The Woman. If a book worms its way into your subconscious, the author is doing a lot of things right. There are difficult topics covered in the book but they would be obvious spoilers. So my warning is that it's not for the faint hearted and I'll also give you some genre clues: dystopian, crime, drama, psychological thriller.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: Anna Author: Sammy HK Smith Publisher: Rebellious/Solaris Publication Date: May 25, 2021 Review Date: March 5, 2021 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “A chilling feminist novel set in a near-future dystopia, Anna explores the conflicts between selfhood and expectations, safety and control, and the sacrifices we make for the sake of protection. Beaten. Branded. Defiant. Anna is a possession. She is owned by the man named Will Book Review: Anna Author: Sammy HK Smith Publisher: Rebellious/Solaris Publication Date: May 25, 2021 Review Date: March 5, 2021 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “A chilling feminist novel set in a near-future dystopia, Anna explores the conflicts between selfhood and expectations, safety and control, and the sacrifices we make for the sake of protection. Beaten. Branded. Defiant. Anna is a possession. She is owned by the man named Will, shielded from the world of struggles and possessions by his care. He loves her, protects her, and then breaks her. Anna is obedient, dutiful, and compliant. Anna does not know her place in the world. When she falls pregnant, Anna leaves her name behind, and finds the strength to run. But the past - and Will - catch up with her in an idyllic town with a dark secret, and this time, it’s not just Anna who is at risk.” This was an utterly dark, hateful, misogynistic book, much as the same type story as The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, though not as well written as Atwood’s book. I was filled with horror and disgust and had to stop reading this book at 40%. Just entirely too disturbing and I saw no reason to continue reading such a hateful book. I’m not sure why someone would even want to write this kind of book. I highly do NOT recommend that read this book. My wish is for the author to not write any more books. This review will be posted on NetGalley and Goodreads. #netgalley #anna #samnyhksmith #rebellionsolaris #misogyny

  25. 5 out of 5

    Simone

    A thrilling dystopian tale of feminine strength in the face of violence. We follow Anna's tale so closely that we experience all the emotion and hopelessness with her. It's far too visceral and real in places and as a woman I empathised so powerfully with Anna. The writing is smooth and the pace pleasing. Part two offers a different shift - we move from the story of abuse to one of healing and yet we see an idyllic town of dreams and supposed utopia is actually as dark and deadly as the world bef A thrilling dystopian tale of feminine strength in the face of violence. We follow Anna's tale so closely that we experience all the emotion and hopelessness with her. It's far too visceral and real in places and as a woman I empathised so powerfully with Anna. The writing is smooth and the pace pleasing. Part two offers a different shift - we move from the story of abuse to one of healing and yet we see an idyllic town of dreams and supposed utopia is actually as dark and deadly as the world before the war with adultery, violence, lies and manipulation. It's told in a very covert way and I think that's the downfall to this part. It's too subtle in places that I almost missed what the author was doing. I enjoyed every character. They were all so well developed and each had real gravitas. My personal favourites were Nikky, Rich, and the little boy, Philip, who help Anna heal in their own way. This is a quiet novel. It's violent and dark in places, but it's not a story that will burst through the pages and assault you. Instead it's slick and deceptive and leaves you thinking about it long after the last page has been turned. Solid 4/5

  26. 4 out of 5

    Traveling Cloak

    Read the full review here: https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/05/12/re... Anna is an upcoming release by veteran author Sammy H.K. Smith, and, wow, honestly it left me speechless. Which is a really interesting thing to say about a book that could really encourage a lot of dialogue. Anna’s story was a brutal read at times and joyful at others, but it was always enthralling. “He had captured me, and, by the rudimentary of the Unlands, I belonged to him.” This is a really hard review to write for a couple o Read the full review here: https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/05/12/re... Anna is an upcoming release by veteran author Sammy H.K. Smith, and, wow, honestly it left me speechless. Which is a really interesting thing to say about a book that could really encourage a lot of dialogue. Anna’s story was a brutal read at times and joyful at others, but it was always enthralling. “He had captured me, and, by the rudimentary of the Unlands, I belonged to him.” This is a really hard review to write for a couple of reasons. First, I do not want to reveal any more about the plot than the synopsis already does. I want to tell you everything about Anna, because I got utterly lost in the story and I want to talk about it. The problem with that is not only do you, the reader, deserve to experience the book for the first time on your own, but, even more importantly, this is Anna’s story tell. Not mine. I am not going to take that from her. “I had been the stupid, lazy and weak girl he caught. I never used to be weak.” The other problem I am having writing this review is that I cannot use the usual positive qualifiers I do for other books. I cannot say I “enjoyed” this book. Or that it was “entertaining” or “fun”. It is none of those things. This is not a book to be “enjoyed”. Isn’t that the point, though, or at least some of it? This is a journey that takes you out of your box, makes you uncomfortable. And writing the review should not be, and is not, any easier. I have plenty of good things to say about Anna, though. It is incredibly well-written. Smith really knows how to create with the purpose of building tension, in both the short- and long-term. And that tension stayed, even during the “good” times. I use the word “good” hesitantly, because in this post-dystopian world the author has built almost nothing is “good”. No matter the situation, there is always a cloud of suspense hovering in the air, omnipresent. That is not an easy thing to achieve, but Smith does it very well. “One need not be a chamber – to be haunted.” Though I think Anna’s story could take place at any time and place in any era, the setting adds to the drama, for sure. It is You meets The Walking Dead, but without the zombies. I mean that in the way the world-in-peril sets up its communities: some groups of people working together to accomplish the same goals, while others are full of people looking to grab as much power as they can. Power is the big, overarching theme in the book, and it permeates everything. This setup comes with its own built-in anxieties that contribute much to the story overall. Which, by the way, is what a good setting should do. Anna is a gripping, compelling, highly emotional, and oftentimes shocking story that will force you out of your comfort zone. It is not an easy read, and that is exactly why you should pick it up. Then find someone else who has also read it and talk about it. There is much to discuss.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lulu

    Rating: 4* Anna was not an easy read, dealing with topics of abuse and rape, and anyone planning to read this book should definitely check the trigger warnings beforehand. I genuinely found this book so hard to put down, simply because I was SO worried about Anna (the mc) and knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I’d gotten to the end of her story. It was so gripping and I think Sammy H.K. Smith did an great job with the writing because with a hard tale such as this, it was executed so well and Rating: 4* Anna was not an easy read, dealing with topics of abuse and rape, and anyone planning to read this book should definitely check the trigger warnings beforehand. I genuinely found this book so hard to put down, simply because I was SO worried about Anna (the mc) and knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I’d gotten to the end of her story. It was so gripping and I think Sammy H.K. Smith did an great job with the writing because with a hard tale such as this, it was executed so well and the constant state of dread I was feeling never left. The ending was so satisfying yet haunting, I had to process my thoughts for the next several hours after I’d finished. Anna is definitely a book that remains with you long after the last page. Trigger warnings: Sexual abuse, violence, domestic abuse, rape Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy Burt

    Anna isn’t an easy read, but from the synopsis and even the tag line on the cover: Beaten. Branded. Defiant, that is rather obvious and because of that, you can’t say you enjoyed it, in the sense that the emotional, physical and sexual abuse of both men and women in the book will outrage you. But it is a very good book, well written, compelling, tense and with a brilliant protagonist and worth sticking with. Anna essentially is broken into 3 acts: when she is caught, when she has escaped, and whe Anna isn’t an easy read, but from the synopsis and even the tag line on the cover: Beaten. Branded. Defiant, that is rather obvious and because of that, you can’t say you enjoyed it, in the sense that the emotional, physical and sexual abuse of both men and women in the book will outrage you. But it is a very good book, well written, compelling, tense and with a brilliant protagonist and worth sticking with. Anna essentially is broken into 3 acts: when she is caught, when she has escaped, and when he finds her again and what happens. In the first act, you mean ‘Anna’, a wanderer after the world has broken down, where society, economy and order has crashed and survival and basic want/needs prevails. Anna lost her husband 2 years earlier when he was conscripted and died in war, she is estranged from her family she feels betrayed by and living and hiding in the wilderness, not knowing she is his prey until he captures her. This first act is brutal, Anna is humiliated, beaten, raped by a man who goes by many names but I’ll settle with Will here. This book will be hugely triggering for many and I hope when the book is published this is explicitly clear. Will isn’t just physically abusive, he is is emotionally manipulative, he deprives Anna of food/water to punish her while also saying he is there to protect her, he sexually assaults her but is tender when it comes to her period, he turns his abuse around and blames her for making him do it. It’s a story that many women (and men) will identify with sadly and Anna isn’t the only victim to this abuse in this story.Anna remains defiant, clinging to herself while he tries to snatch it from her, vowing to escape and when she finds out she is pregnant, she seizes the opportunity to escape his grasp. In the 2nd act, Anna becomes ‘Kate’, found and accepted into a community and carrying Will’s baby. Kate is trying to rebuild her life with the trauma of her past, not just Will but of her family and marriage. The pacing slows down here, cold shower slow to be honest, there will be a lot of community meetings, council talks, it’s a little disorienting until finally, act 3, Will resurfaces and the life Kate has tried to build starts to tumble around her and she has to protect herself and her baby. It initially frustrates me how much was left unsaid by the end of the book. We don’t know Anna’s real name or what she wanted to name her baby or what happens to the community she found solace in. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. ‘Anna’ has everything taken from her but ultimately her name was only hers, Will never got to claim that and to the end, this part of Anna remains untouched, as does the identity of her son. When so much is taken from ‘Anna’, she has this final control. And then it made sense. Will is a brutal character and you will hate him and yet I appreciated the humanity teased into his character. There is so much we don’t know about him but we are shown that he isn’t a 2D villain but a man who was once good and loved and lost it all, leaving a man who now simply takes. It was just enough without trying to add excuses or sympathy into his character but it still had a powerful effect. Anna, or whoever she really is, is a wonderful creation and you constantly root for her, this woman determined to survive, strong yet hurting, a true hero. This is a brutal, tense read and I’m glad I read it. Thank you NetGalley for the review copy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    'Anna is a survivor. After society has broken down, her husband has been conscripted, she's fallen out with her parents, the bombs fell and everything went horribly wrong, she hid out in the wilds for two years, living on her wits and what she could find. Then suddenly she's lost her freedom, caught, shackled and branded by Will who is determined to make her love him. It could be worse. Other captives are used for sex, as a reward to those who help their captors or as an incentive for good behav 'Anna is a survivor. After society has broken down, her husband has been conscripted, she's fallen out with her parents, the bombs fell and everything went horribly wrong, she hid out in the wilds for two years, living on her wits and what she could find. Then suddenly she's lost her freedom, caught, shackled and branded by Will who is determined to make her love him. It could be worse. Other captives are used for sex, as a reward to those who help their captors or as an incentive for good behaviour. Will is violent, controlling and abusive and when she gets her chance, she runs to set herself up in a seemingly quite civilised community. As a post societal breakdown dystopia, Anna's world is sketched very lightly. We don't really get an insight into what happened or why - or at least, not a clear one. Many things work more or less as before; many others don't. Exploitation of women in times of conflict or short supply is not unusual; we see it all the time in our not yet dystopian world today. I felt often that I'd missed out on quite a bit chunk of society's backstory. I also found only the one clue that this particular world is the UK. This was when the protagonist puts a 50p piece into a telescope. I'd have liked a few more references to where she was supposed to be. The pace is good. We don't spend too long in any of Anna's worlds but we get the sense of menace that she can run but she can't hide. Her self-preservation tendencies reminded me of a Katniss Everdean character and I understood her reluctance to get too involved in her community. I'm not sure I understood her pursuer's ability to pass himself off as a half-decent human being whilst doing his utmost to win her back. On the whole, it's a pretty good book although the ending felt a bit rushed and one feature of the ending - let's just call it the 'grave' so as not to give too much away - seemed to defy the science of decay and left me a bit confused. As a small point of observation, Anna spends far more time sniffing everything and commenting to herself on smells than any creature who isn't a labrador could be expected to do. I'm often bugged by authors knocking on about people's eyes but in this case the over-obsession with smells got a bit irritating. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my copy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    James

    Anna is the story of a domestic violence victim set in an apocalyptical near future where centralized government authority has broken down and militias rule the towns. This first person narrative is intense. Ms. Smith's writing is concise, straightforward and excellent. I really like her writing style. Her description of Anna's sensory impressions, the touch, the smell and the sounds is remarkable. Her description of the hidden and not so hidden support that the abuser enjoys throughout the nove Anna is the story of a domestic violence victim set in an apocalyptical near future where centralized government authority has broken down and militias rule the towns. This first person narrative is intense. Ms. Smith's writing is concise, straightforward and excellent. I really like her writing style. Her description of Anna's sensory impressions, the touch, the smell and the sounds is remarkable. Her description of the hidden and not so hidden support that the abuser enjoys throughout the novel is very unsettling. Ms. Smith nailed the dynamics of players in a domestic violence situation - the abuser, the abused, friends and government officials. This is where science fiction is at its best, addressing a societal problem in a completely different setting. This is almost a parable about domestic violence hiding in a science fiction tale. It's disturbing and unpleasant but Anna should be read. I highly recommend this novel. Rebellion Publishing provided an ARC in exchange for a fair review.

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