know what people who have similar tastes to me will be thinking. What?! Yes. I actually read this book.
Some advice for people when picking up the book: don't read the blurb! It's awful and horrendous and you certainly shouldn't judge the book on it. Also, don't judge this book by its cover! The cover is also terrible, and the content inside is just so good in comparison. And one last thing- PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE TITLE. Just read it, it's a super cutesy, laid back, easy read and I definitely recommend it if you've just read a fantasy epic and feel like a bit of a break.
This book is about a girl, who's unbelievably called Anna, who is sent to a boarding school in Paris. The story revolves around her and the way she develops new relationships and copes with the ones back at home that she's been severed from. There is obviously a quite important love story and it's pretty cute I gotta say...
Anyways go and read and come back here to discuss!
Okie dokie! Let's get started. This book was not something I would have picked up without being basically forced to by several of my book friends and real life friends. It is certainly something I've been putting off reading forever! And if you follow my goodreads, you'll know that I attempted to start Scarlet, the second book in the Lunar Chronicles, but I was struggling with it and thought I might just need something easy and cute. So I finally relented. And I'm kinda glad I did.
One of my favourite things in this book was the cafeteria, and the food. Gosh that sounds bad but every time they went out for lunch or even just had a school meal, I think I died from the descriptions of the food. GIVE ME THE DELICIOUS FOOD!
Now that's out of the way, let's start with the main part of the story- the relationship between Étienne and Anna. It was clear from the start where this book was going. We all knew that Étienne and Anna would end up together. But the way their relationship was dealt with was really quite sweet... It was clear they liked one another, but where there was opportunities for scandal and angsty love triangles, the author didn't take them. Their relationship was mainly "just friends" during this book, until towards the end, and I think that was a really good thing, although I was maybe yelling "JUST KISS!" through some of the more frustrating chapters.
Their relationship was always going to be problematic, with Anna's new best friend, Mer, liking Étienne. I wondered how this issue was going to be solved, and I was a little iffy about the solution. In my mind, Bridgette hooking up with Toph after Anna had kissed him was much worse than Anna kissing Étienne when all Mer had done was like him. Yes, Anna probably should have talked it through with Mer and been a bit more careful, but there was really no problem of cheating. However, Anna had kissed Toph, and there was clearly something going on between them. But then Anna leaves, Bridge steals Toph and they get together behind Anna's back. Although what Anna did probably wasn't fair on her friend, what Bridgette did was just plain sneaky and mean.
Whilst reading other reviews about this book, I came across a common trend- people hated that Anna thought moving to Paris was bad. Now, I do think this is a little unfair. Anna was forced to move to a foreign country she'd never been to without her family and attend a school with new people and face it all completely alone. If I was in her situation, I would be crying too. I would be furious, I would want to go home and I would resent the fact I was in Paris. Lots of people were complaining, "this girl gets sent to Paris and complains… first world problems much?", however I don't think it would've mattered where she was being sent… New York or Tokyo, Rome or Sydney, she still would've felt alone and unloved. Can you imagine being sent away, against your will, to somewhere unknown, alone, by the people who are meant to love you? Yeah, think that over for a second and imagine being a confused sixteen year old girl as well.
I think Anna and I are very similar, which is why I felt I had to speak up for her in the above paragraph. I felt that the ways she approached situations and the way she reacted reflected the ways I would also act, and I don't know about you guys, but this is why I really liked her character. Not to mention the fact that she loved movies. Normally, it's poetry or books that a main female character is obsessed with, but I found Anna really unique in her obsession with old (and new) movies and thought it was really cool how she ran a blog to help her with her future career… sounds like someone else I know.
I can't say I didn't like Étienne. I very much liked Étienne. Maybe it was the accent and the way he was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT, I'm not exactly sure. He was a little too perfect, and I didn't love him as much as I loved Kai, from Cinder, the book I read before this. But I loved him because Anna loved him, and when I saw him, I saw him through her eyes, and I have to say, that was pretty cute.
The scenes where they were doing the wishes, it was clear what Étienne was wishing, you could see his infatuation with Anna from the very start. I found it interesting how this time, there was a girlfriend thrown into the mix. Normally, in angsty teen romance novels, it starts off with the boy and girl being rivals, almost hating each other. Then they slowly fall in love and have to battle through their conflicting emotions until at the end everything falls apart and they end up together. That was interesting the first three times, but the five hundred thousand million after that were less impressive. That's why I found it so much more realistic that not only did Étienne have a girlfriend, Anna had a major crush. I was so much more excited to see how they would work around their current relationships to end up together.
I found that Étienne was using Ellie as a safety blanket very early on, which was definitely explored later on in the book. The way he knew he wasn't in love with her, but he kept her there for fear of change really annoyed me, however I am probably a lot like him in that respect. I hate change. But I don't know if I would be able to stay with someone who I know I didn't love. Anyways, I wasn't sure that he was no longer in love with her until a little further on, but once I did, I was waiting for the moment to strike where Ellie would be out of the picture. And I couldn't wait.
I also couldn't wait for Toph to run off with Bridge. That was one of the many things that was oh so predictable in this book, and everyone knew it was going to happen. What better way to kick Toph out of the scene to free up Anna for Étienne than to have her best friend hook up with him? It was perfect, and as I predicted, it came true.
During Anna's stay back in Atlanta, I loved her email conversations with Étienne. After there had been such coldness between them before (and the new coldness that was to come after), these emails brought me hope and were absolutely gorgeously cute. When they talked about wanting to visit one another I was just begging the universe to stop trying to pull this perfect couple apart. I loved that Anna could talk to him, and convince him out of his room when they were staying at school over Thanksgiving. Étienne's mother's cancer was something that confused me a bit. Maybe it was a plot device to draw Anna and Étienne closer through demonstration that Anna could help him when no one else can, or maybe it was there for some deep, metaphorical meaning that I missed, but it just kind of confused me… If anyone has any insight, please leave a comment I'd love to discuss!
One of my favourite things was Anna's father. Of course, I hated him, and he reminded me of several real life authors, but his character in the story was something I was so thankful for. He was something other than the typical YA dad stereotypes- either dead, divorced, not there, horrible or a complete push-over. He had a character, and I always find that parents in YA get overlooked easily. It makes things for a writer so much easier if the parents aren't around; there's less rules on your character and reason for hurt and angst. So even though he was a mean person, he was still a part of the story, and the way he was created, with the obnoxious books and the sweaters and fake tan, was just a really interesting side of it.
So you may just see this as another teen angst romance novel. And in some ways, from the outset, it is. From the outset, everything looks a lot vaguer. Hunger Games may look like an angsty love triangle set in a bad alternate future. BBC Sherlock may look like a bunch of normal people dealing with a crime-solving sociopath. But when you delve deeper, you realise that Hunger Games is actually about the problems in our society, and how the world could turn if we don't take control and think our actions through. We see that BBC Sherlock is about adrenaline addicted ex-army doctors, ex-CIA agents trying to cover their pasts, super smart landladies, sweet pathologists who can convince criminals to watch Glee and a broken man who shuts his feelings away to stop himself from being hurt.
So yeah, you may see AATFK as an angsty teen romance novel. You may think it's too "low-brow" for you. But please stop, think, pick up the book and think about it critically before you judge it. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a cute read.
Sorry for that life lesson in books there but I felt it was necessary to say that just because a book hasn't been released in a gold-embossed classics cover by Dymocks or Barnes and Noble doesn't mean it's not worth reading.
Anyways, I definitely recommend this book, and I really did like this, but I'm super happy to discuss in the comments! If you're leaving a comment, put your twitter name there as well and I can follow/shout you out :)
Have a lovely day,