Anne & Henry – Dawn Ius
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?
Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.
Instead of breaking it down to what I liked/what I didn’t like, I wrote down some thoughts about it (some mild spoilers ahead):
- What the heck is the timeline for these events? When did Arthur/his dad die? How long has it been since Anne’s mom remarried? How long were Henry/Anne together? So many questions.
- When will YA books realize that a “different” piercing (i.e. not your ears) does not make you “bad”? I mean, yeah, Henry thought it was hot, but I think he said that in the same breath as “she looks like trouble” or something along those lines.
- There was a lot of emotion in the book but it seemed like it was just thrown in there without buildup: one minute Henry was worried. Then he was angry. Then he was drooling all over Anne. All in the span of two minutes.
- At the same time, most of their emotions felt superficial. If I had to read “s/he is hot” one more time, I was going to lose my
- Henry was such a dick. I’m sure Henry VIII was also a dick, but at least he was a king and you could understand why all the ladies were okay with being used by him. This Henry, though, is the school president, and too much of a tool to be attractive (sorry). I don’t know why Anne (or Catherine, for that matter), put up with him.
- I kinda liked the spin on Mary Boleyn, but it could have been really interesting if Henry had known her before (like in One Tree Hill when Nathan realizes how he knows Hayley’s sister Taylor *wink wink*).
- Key historical figures not included that could have made the book more scandalous: Mary and Elizabeth Tudor. Also George Boleyn.
- Anne was the most developed character but then she went from “badass who doesn’t care” to “falling all over herself for her toolbox of a boyfriend” when she could have been powerful. Everyone else felt two dimensional and disingenuous (like they were being forced to talk/act a certain way), plus some of them disappeared halfway through before being brought back for the culminating scene (Sam and Charles, I’m talking about you).
- The horse on the beach. I just…I don’t know what to say.
- I did like the way they dealt with Anne’s “beheading” and the introduction of Jane Seymour.
- Stylistically, there were some sentences that were
- broken up
- like this
- and I found it annoying. But that’s just me! Maybe other people think it’s fun or creates a certain emphasis or tone? I don’t know.
At the end of the day, when you take away the historical context, it’s nothing but a petty high school drama with a massive dose of insta-love. The stakes aren’t as high for teen-Henry as they were for his kingly counterpart (did teen-Henry have to leave the church and form his own church just to get out of a relationship? No, he just had to make up his mind).
Nevertheless, there’s something compulsively readable about Anne & Henry. I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters, but I still wanted to find out what happened next.
I imagine it will appeal to fans of Gossip Girl and the like (I’ve never read a Gossip Girl book, but I’ve watched the whole show). If it hadn’t been for the historical ties, it’s not something I would normally be into. And the more I think about it, the more annoyed I feel.