Sunday, 3 October 2010

Review: Annexed - Sharon Dogar

AnnexedEveryone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex – but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?

In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter’s point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her? Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together. To know you’re being written about in Anne’s diary, day after day? What’s it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting.

As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them?

Anne’s diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter’s story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps. He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz – and ultimately the horrific fates of the Annex’s occupants.

Throughout reading Annexed and even now, I'm not sure how I feel about it. When I first heard of it, I initially liked the concept but then I was concerned about whether it would live up to The Diary of a Young Girl. Once I started, the book took me a while to get into and I'm not sure why. There wasn't anything that stood out, there just seemed to be something missing so it didn't quite grab me.

While the style of the writing was fine, one problem I had was there that a lot of it was about Peter's feelings but there wasn't much about what was actually happening. Obviously this was going to be a tough one for the author. Too much repetition of the original story would be pointless and put off readers but I felt it needed a little more. The book clearly assumes you've read Anne's account, which I have a number of times but it's been a while and I couldn't really relate what was happening in Peter's version to Anne's. One way to do this would have been to read them side by side but that seemed like a lot of effort.

It was the same with some of the characters. There was no real introduction to any of them and I found myself having to try and recall some of the lesser characters, such as those outside of the Annex who were helping them. The characterisation itself was good although there did seem to be some differences to the original book - I put this down to being written from a different view point though. Peter initially found Anne annoying but she was hardly going to describe herself that way.

There was definitely some poignant moments in the books, such as when Peter’s wondering what the point of them hiding is as he's feeling like they’re not doing their bit. Otto Frank tells him that their job is to survive, asking “How else will the world know what’s happened?”

I think Annexed is one of those books that some people will love. Like I said there was nothing that really stuck out to make me dislike it, there just wasn't that something that made me love it either.

Annexed is out now in the UK and released 4th October in the US

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