By: Leo Tolstoy & Ben H. Winters
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: June 2010
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 1, 2010
Quirk Classics is at it again, guys and gals. From the creators of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, as well as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, comes the next irreverent look at a classic story brought back to life.
As in the original version of this fantastic novel, we follow two love affairs of monumental proportions: Anna Karenina with Count Alexei Vronsky and Nikolai Levin with Princess Kitty Shcherbatskaya. These two unforgettable couples yearned and fought for true love in the 19th century. However, in the first telling of this brilliantly-crafted novel, neither couple had been in possession of copper-plated machines and robotic butlers.
In this new version, there’s a war brewing between machine and master. A covert group of scientific revolutionaries band together and go on the attack. Battling against Russian high society, the group tries with all their might to take the legs out from underneath the wealthy debutantes. Our brave and courageous couples must use everything they have available, including the sleek and mean ultra-human cyborgs, to beat back the enemy and re-gain control of their steampunk-inspired world.
Anna’s nightmare (which is a famous scene from the classic book) seems to have been the inspiration for this metallic world that the author has created. In her dream, the hammering of iron referred to Anna being crushed and beaten down. In addition, Tolstoy was very “into” the near future, where steam-powered engines and machines would ”take over” and change life as humans knew it back in the 1800’s. These specific ideas seemed to me to have been the building blocks for this new “Jetsons” version of the classic tale.
Ben Winters, who was the co-author of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, certainly – once again – did his homework. Sticking completely to Tolstoy’s story, as well as using hidden “points” Tolstoy made while writing the classic tale, he also used his overly creative imagination to bring the book into the 21st century and open the door for teenagers to enjoy one of the best writers ever known. I would hope that after a fun reading of Android Karenina, the reader will be inspired to pick up the original text.
Quill says: It's nice to see that these updated classics are introducing a whole new audience to some of the best known writers in the history of literature, and fans of previous books in this series should enjoy this newest offering. For devoted followers of the original classics, you may have a hard time accepting Anna, er, Android Karenina.