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?
I have like the most basic grasp of what went down in the Tudor era, mostly thanks to YA historical novels (god knows my education never included European history) and if you ask me, Anne and Henry was a pretty good modern adaptation of Anne and Henry’s story. Now, I will also be honest, that though I knew how it ended I was looking for how this one would take it – and I was pleased with the symbolism and nod off to the original. It’s the good-girl-meets-bad-boy story, but with genders changed. Henry is the goody goody king of his town, poised to achieve ‘great’ things according to almost everyone, and Anne is the hellraiser, a newcomer who doesn’t give a damn about what people think of her, until it affects the people she cares about.
Naturally, he is attracted to her, because of course he would be. She is wild, and untamed and he is tired of what is expected of him; his inner rebelliousness comes out in a torrent. Also, he already has a queengirlfriend, and their relationship is basically arranged, as in the original, after his brother’s death. Anne and he get together, and they have crazy adventures, and all, until an accident puts the brake on their romance. Set apart, the others who were disapproving of her, have a chance to tear them apart, (view spoiler) All pretty much well adapted from history, including the incriminating trial, and her ‘beheading’.
So while, as an adaptation I was very satisfied with this book, it is also ultimately a contemporary YA novel, and I will critique it from that aspect too. There is a lot of angst and drama in this book, and sorry, but just adapting a historical story into a modern setting is not enough, considering the different societal norms. His whole town is against her, for some reason (except the mayor’s wife) – as if they have never seen a punk rock girl before. Do they have all Barbie princesses in Medina? Is Anne truly a snowflake? I got tired of all the ‘that girl will ruin you, she’s nothing but trouble’. But you don’t even know her? Next, I get Henry’s attraction to her – she is crazy hot, stuff of his fantasies,*yawn* but why does she like him? She did find him hot, but come on, the girl loses her dignity over him and that jealousy-filled-ass is not even worth it. Yes, I am upset about the original Anne Boleyn too, but this Anne goes from I-don’t-care-what-you-think, to be willing to mold into whatever form she needs to be, because ‘he is the only thing that matters’. A fierce, independent feminist being brought down as needing a man to save her (she does compare him to a knight in shining armor more than once) was too much for me. She gets along with his jerk friends for him, get set up, then even takes the fall with grace – maybe she is embodying the original Anne, but modern girl, yo – give her a spine! She even feels sorry for damaging his reputation (the horror!) and all he is doing is eyeing Jane Seymour, right after learning of her ‘betrayal’. Like dude wasn’t even hurt, just scoping out the next girl? For shame!
As you can see, I have mixed reactions to this book. On the level of an adaptation, I would probably give it 4.5 stars, but as a YA novel, I’m not feeling so generous with it’s regressive message. So, on the fence, I am going with a 3.
Received a free galley from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss; this does not affect my opinion or review.