Read the World: Italy

When the Red Fever came, it killed only the adults. On the island of Siciliy, young Anna and her little brother Astor are left orphaned. Before her death, their mother wrote The Book of Important things, with instructions on how to live without her, practical things like how to treat a fever, but also a request to teach her brother to read. In this world without adults, reading can be the key to survival.

The virus is perhaps a metaphor for the fear of growing up; the death of childhood is literally your death. It can go down on the fairly limited list of books that talk about periods, and that even after the apocalypse you might need to find sanitary products.

When Astor falls ill, Anna must leave him to find medicine which triggers a series of events which exposes them to the different ways children have adapted. Some roam feral, others form organised groups and a kind of new religion. There is the twin left running the local shop, trading good for what he needs most and then there’s the boy on a mission to find a certain pair of trainers.

Anna, in her lack of knowledge, sensed that all the creatures on this planet, from snails to swallows, and including human beings, must live. That is our mission; it has been written in our flesh. We must go on, without looking back, for the energy that pervades us is beyond our control.

I often felt a bit distanced from Anna, honestly the most emotional I felt was scenes concerning Fluffy the dog. I’d love to know the dog’s third name before translation as Fluffy seems a bit silly and unfitting, although I did look up Maremmas and they are indeed fluffy. I really liked how Fluffy, the dog with three names, had a back story too.

I think I liked it more in parts than as a whole. Pietro’s back story was really powerful and at times I was absorbed, but it was the kind of book I could easily put down. The plot is a bit roaming and the end was very sudden.

On the exchange market a watch was worth as much as a mobile phone, a computer or a Boeing 747. Less than a packet of Smarties.

Anna was originally written in Italian by Niccolรฒ Ammaniti and has been translated into English by Jonathan Hunt for Canongate. It will be available to buy in paperback and ebook editions from 3rd August 2017. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.