Newest Review: ... captured the emotions of the people in hiding very well and the projection of those emotions was well delivered. Throughout the book, if P... more
Is Annexed Worth Buying?
Annexed - Sharon Dogar
Member Name: quackquack
Annexed - Sharon Dogar
Advantages: A promising concept
Disadvantages: Poorly executed
Imagine living in a confined space with seven other people for over two years. Imagine having your privacy shattered. Imagine that every breath, movement and thought is heard by everyone around you - yet the fear of being heard remains. That is what Anne Frank had to face every day. She dealt with this by writing in her world acclaimed diary. A diary that has been read by millions of people in 67 different languages. So how - and why - would anyone go and change that, by writing a new diary from the perspective of the boy who loved her, to use the book's slogan. Imaginably, it's a difficult task to go about. Not just in the sense of writing it, but, also in the sense of whether it is morally correct or even offensive.
Annexed follows the life of Peter van Pels, from the day he goes into hiding until the day of his death in Mauthausen concentration camp. Throughout the book, Peter deals with his emotions towards the others in hiding, ranging from anger, hatred and love. Peter also matures throughout the book, as would be expected from a 15 year old. This means that much of the book involves - and is centred around - detailed descriptions of common teenage issues.
Writing Anne Frank's diary from Peter's perspective is an interesting idea, especially as the amount of information existing about Peter is very limited. This approach might even be tactical as it might appeal to boys more than the original diary. Boys may feel more encouraged to read if they can identify with the main character. The book also captured the emotions of the people in hiding very well and the projection of those emotions was well delivered. Throughout the book, if Peter was feeling frustrated, claustrophobic or hopeless, you would feel his pain. Some paragraphs in the book are very well expressed, where the torment and anguish of the situation really comes through. This makes certain parts particularly engaging but I cannot say that it holds throughout the book.
One aspect that I did very much like in the book, was the interweaving chapters. Every few chapters which takes place in the annexe, the book reverts back to the opening, where Peter is in the concentration camp. The effect that this gives is a great addition. First of all, the reality of the situation really pushes through. It shows that however bad the annexe was, nothing was worse than the concentration camp. It also shows the contrast between Peter as a boy and Peter when he was forced to be a man. It highlights Peter's growing maturity, and difference between his character before and during his suffering. It also accentuates how throughout the book, Peter becomes more and more like his character in the concentration camp and leaves behind his childish and ungrateful self.
A frequent annoyance in the book is repetition. On many occasions, repeats sentences for effect. I think that it is a brilliant device when well used but Annexed worked it in too many times. Rather than portraying a sense of urgency and helplessness, it seems to drone on, and is quite tiresome to read. It turns paragraphs from being gripping into a task to read. Other grammar devices that were used were also exasperating. There were too many rhetorical questions to have the desired effect. Rhetorical questions were used in almost every chapter to the point where it cut the reader off from the character. By having a narrative, where the character acts as if no one is listening, the reader instantly feels isolated from the character. Any intimacy or connections between the reader and the character are insignificant and 'erased'. While having rhetorical question is always a clever device, it should only be used when it can be used correctly. Peter is portrayed as not very articulate, which counteracts with Anne, who is very much so. This inability to put his feelings into words disrupts descriptive paragraphs and you constantly have this feeling that Peter is holding back. Even in his narrative you were deprived of a description of his emotions. Short sentences were also irritating. Likewise, they should only be used when they can be used well. The short sentences left me wondering whether Peter was capable of articulating sentences that consisted of more than six words. Rather than these devices having an engaging affect on the reader, it actually did the opposite.
Another frustrating element was that there was nothing to work with. Each chapter seemed like a repeat of the last. After all, what was expected when they were in hiding for two years, doing the same things every day. After a while, it got difficult to differentiate between chapters, as they had all seemed to merge into one.
Annexed has also come under scrutiny for whether it is right to have written a book like it. Were there more information about Peter, and it were more accurate, I think it would have been more morally correct. However, as there is a lack of information, I don't think it is correct to assume he was a certain way. I also don't think that it is fair to judge Peter from Anne's perspective. Much of the background from Peter's character originated from Anne's diary. This isn't at all a just way of getting an accurate character, as Anne was a very selective and harsh person. Her descriptions of other people in the annexe are often stretched and exaggerated. Anne might have thought of Peter completely differently than how he was in reality. Of course, there is also the aspect of whether it is correct to put words into somebody's mouth - especially someone who died in such circumstances. Many people say that this book crossed the line of respect that should have been shown. They believe that an ordeal such as Peter's earns him a higher level of respect that should be regarded.
I think that Annexed set out to be a promising book, but the way it was written let it down. The idea was there, but the execution compromised on the quality. I feel that the book was just a re-telling of Anne Frank's diary and that nothing new was really added. I think that if someone were to read Annexed without having read the diary, they would enjoy it but for anyone who has previously read the diary it would be a disappointment. Certain sections were interesting and worth reading but many sections did not live up to the high standards of the original diary. All in all, it was quite a pointless read.
Summary: An average read but I wouldn't rave about it
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